In response to industry changes the Indiana Daily Student will alter its news distribution model. Starting this fall, instead of printing five days a week, the IDS will print twice weekly, Mondays and Thursdays, while continuing to expand its digital presence.
In a press release, IU Student Media Director Ron Johnson said the move will facilitate plans to “get content where readers and advertisers need it.”
As the current IDS editor, I say kudos to our professional staff for making this leap.
When IU fired Tom Crean, our sports, photo and web editors immediately convened and planned holistic and comprehensive digital coverage, which included a photo gallery, Periscope video and Snapchat stories. In this instance, because news broke during spring break, there was no choice but to be strong and effective storytellers on the Internet.
Most days, however, our efforts to be more digitally-focused are stifled by the demands of a print-focused work day. Yes, we are on social media, but the practice of tweet writing is an afterthought. Yes, we produce multimedia through podcasts and Facebook Live videos, but we do not have a rigid workflow system in place for planning and publishing video content. Yes, we have a web editor who oversees digital storytelling forms, such as Storify, but he cannot access our content until around midnight, after a print designer has sent the print page off to the printer.
I do not know the percentage of IU students who read the IDS in print versus online.
I do know what I see: thousands of students roving campus, eyes glued to their phone screens.
In Friday’s press release, Media School dean James Shanahan said students “need to be experienced not only with the traditional principles of writing, reporting and editing, but also with the rapidly changing business structures of news and its digital distribution.”
This move, he said, will help the IDS “re-find” its audience.
He’s correct. Our mission to serve campus is more important than ever, and reporters and editors need to learn to balance traditional journalistic principles and ethics with meeting readers where they are — online. Two senior editors are finishing up a full redesign of our website. Their work involved early input from our advertising staff and I believe the new site will engage with our audience and welcome more advertisers.
We need not completely abandon the past. The fall staff will be proud to serve our print readers through two twice-weekly and our special sections, including the fall and spring housing & living guides, the campus visitor's guide and Inside magazine. The print IDS will continue to be a cherished source for well-reported and well-designed content.
Reporters and editors will need to seek innovative news gathering and storytelling forms in an effort to engage more with you, our readers. Some of these ideas will work better than others. The IDS invites you to contact us with feedback and ideas for how we can better serve you.
We celebrated the newspaper’s 150th birthday Feb. 22. Alumni and friends will gather Oct. 7 to celebrate the anniversary, and they have been contributing to the Indiana Daily Student Legacy Fund. I will return to campus in the fall to celebrate the IDS and I hope to see you there, too.
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