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Don’t stop the presses: Students still read student newspapers!

Over at the Student Newspaper Survival Blog, Rachele Kanigel points to a new study showing that on college campuses, students still read the college paper. In print.

Kanigel writes:

“While professional newspapers are grappling with falling readership, particularly among Facebook-crazed college students, student newspapers are still widely read by their target audience.
That’s the word from Alloy Media + Marketing, which just announced results of a readership survey of more than 1,200 college students from 550 universities across 50 states.

The study found that more than three-quarters, or 76 percent, of college students surveyed had read their college newspaper in the past month. Readership was highest at campuses with daily papers, where 92 percent had read a student newspaper in the previous month. By comparison, just over one-third of students reported reading their daily community paper at least weekly.”

You can read the press release on the report here.

This really struck me last summer when I started working on this project. And in some ways, it’s a double-edge sword. On one hand, it really emphasizes something that I’ve tried to point out to so many digital guru types: People still love print. And the right print product, in the right community, can still be enormously successful. Print circulation in places like Europe is still rising, because they’ve found ways to adapt their print products to better fit the way readers live their lives. It’s intellectually lazy to just go around saying, “Why don’t you just kill your print version and go online only.” On the contrary, there is a lot of innovation that can be done around the print version of the paper.

On the other hand, I’ve found that in many college newsrooms, students see everyone on campus reading the print version, and they ask, “Why should I bother doing more online? Everyone still reads us in print.” Well, one answer is that people may be reading it, but advertisers either are or will migrate away from it. So if you depend on ad revenue to run your organization, you might get stuck.

But the better argument is that online represents an opportunity expand the scope of your journalism, your engagement with your community, and your impact. So it would be the wrong lesson to use the health of your print version to as an excuse to neglect your online journalism. Eventually, it will catch up with you.

One Response

  1. Chris is this survey evidence that the more niche a community is, then the greater the chances of success for a print publication? The other question this raises is whether online means web -based as is the case now, or perhaps some type of interim real-time site like a news feed in which readers contribute with microblogging tools like Twitter or other mobile technologies?I’m on a panel about the future of news today at 2:00 pm central time. Email or tweet me http://www.twitter/AlbertMaruggi – and I’ll mention the site and your comments during that panel. that would be a kick All the best, the pane information is below, it is sponsored by the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce as part of their community leadership programPanel Discussion – Changing Face of Media/Alternative Media Sources/Credibility vs. Sensationalism.Purpose: We are interested in exploring whether or not, how and why traditional media such as newspapers and television are being supplanted by internet resources and user generated media such as Youtube and Facebook. How are younger generations (Gen Y) using the new media and how they will gather news and information in the future.Moderator: Liz Bogut – Communications Director, Saint Paul Area Chamber of CommercePanelists: Joel Kramer, Editor and CEO of MinnPost.comKristin Henning, Publisher, The RakeBarbara Laskin, Media Relations Manager – Macalester CollegeThom Fladung – Editor – Pioneer PressAlbert Maruggi – Founder and president of Provident Partners

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