Collegiate Times shifts to new digital medium

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Blacksburg, May 3 – AN EXTRA ISSUE: A recent issue of the Collegiate Times commemorating the senior class. Photo: Ricky Lam.

by Ricky Lam and Megan Newhard–

As more users are getting their news online, many publications are forced to learn and adapt to the digital age, including college publications like the Collegiate Times.

“In a nutshell, our focus has really changed to where we’re putting stories online and sometimes we put them in print,” said Matthew Jones, former editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times.

According to The Atlantic, print newspaper advertising revenue dropped from $60 billion to $20 billion between 2000 and 2015. USA Today reports that advertising and subscription revenue has been steadily dropping as digital media is becoming more prominent for readers. Major news publications have responded to this issue by stepping into the online world.

The Collegiate Times is one example where the daily newspaper format has been switched to one issue per week. The college newspaper has shifted more towards a digital approach where news stories are posted on a 24-hour basis, while the print version reflects on the greatest hits of the week.

“This year we’ve been really focusing on making our print products something really special. It’s more timeless content; content that’s extremely relevant to students,” Jones said. “Content that will still make sense in a week and we try to make it the best of what we publish online.”

One of the major reasons why the Collegiate Times shifted their focus to a more digital approach was because their printing facility was shut down. Printing expenses spiked up which prompted the newspaper to allocate their resources elsewhere.

Many news stories that readers consume have become more than the standard image and text. Reporters are now able to utilize various mediums and create multimedia content that best fits the context of the news story.

One of the major stories that the Collegiate Times was able to cover was creating a digital experience by providing updates to William Morva’s execution. While the print industry is slowly declining, some believe that the medium will not completely die off due to the prominence of digital news.

“With print, you have a documentation in your hand of what happened. And that’s something you can’t change. It’s just something cool and tangible that keeps you updated on what’s going on,” said Jessica Brady, the current editor-in-chief of the Collegiate Times.

“I think there’s still something really special about holding a newspaper. Your newspaper is never going to have live updates or 3-D interactive experiences,” Johns said. “There’s definitely some drawbacks on print, but I think people still appreciate having a newspaper. I think there will continue to be a niche market for it.”

As more newspapers are moving towards an online subscription-based model and a more digital experience, journalists are becoming aware of new ways to catch readers’ attention in the rapidly growing technological age.