Campus print operations shouldn’t be quick to fold

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“Printed papers can’t be long for the world. Focus on the future.”

Upon seeking support for The Journal’s print operations, I received an email from a former journalist saying exactly that. 

But print journalism is every bit as much a part of journalism’s future as its expanse into the digital sphere.

Printed news—especially on post-secondary campuses—is vital if journalists are to continue to serve as purveyors of information and accountability.

Campus papers across Canada, from University of Ottawa’s The Fulcrum to University of Calgary’s The Gauntlet, have been transitioning to online-only publications in the face of declining ad revenue and looming budget cuts.

At The Journal, confronted by the same threats, we constantly receive suggestions to go completely digital as if we haven’t heard those arguments before.

These daily threats to print news mean the medium of print is no longer in fashion—but its lack of trendiness doesn’t make it any less important.

Student newspapers are often the only autonomous reporting mechanisms on campuses. They share what student politicians are doing, what campus artists are creating, what local initiatives are offering, and what your peers have to say.

When students waiting at CoGro or Student Wellness Services pick up the paper, they can flip to the Arts or Sports section that interests them—but to get there, they have to page through News, Opinions, and Features.

When the same content is reduced to a Facebook link or a Tweet, it enables readers to silo their interests without exposure to the other issues affecting them.

At a time of waning student engagement, a print paper exposes students to the topics shaping their lives, like OSAP changes impacting their peers or little-known sexual violence survey results.

Without the distractions of links and notifications, it’s easier to focus on and absorb the information on a printed page. This allows students to understand and weigh in on important issues they might otherwise scroll past.

Student newspapers are also often free and publicly available—they don’t require an expensive computer or phone to access. Their physical presence is trustworthy in an era of falsified information.

It’s essential that campus newspapers innovate digitally to stay relevant and financially sustainable, whether through podcasts, videos, or newsletters. Their digitization just often isn’t enough to stand alone.

Print student papers serve both campuses and the communities around them in a timely, focused, and accessible manner that websites can’t replicate. If campus outlets can stay on top of digital trends and prove themselves sustainable, they should be able to continue printing.

Physical newspapers give everyone a window into the stories impacting them. If they were to disappear, so would that opportunity.

Meredith is The Journal’s Editor in Chief. She’s a fourth-year Politics and English student.

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