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Shah: The future of the Independent Collegian

April 11, 2018

 

For years, the death of print newspapers has been predicted, and while newspapers nationwide are struggling, print journalism is not dead.

 

Rather, it’s moved online and transitioned into long-form or narrative journalism. In most cases, newspapers have started to transition into a multimedia platform where journalists share their stories through podcasts and videos alongside their writing.

 

This is the future I see for the Independent Collegian; the newspaper that’s served the community for 99 years has the potential to change how individuals see our campus and the world.

 

While people make comments about print journalism dying and suggesting that we take our troubles elsewhere, what they fail to understand is our commitment to this paper. The hours of work we put into developing our stories, the obsession we have with the work we do and the hours of sleep we lose over perfecting our writing has to count for something.

 

We simply cannot lose this paper. This is where students develop their skills, establish a sense of community, grow as thinkers, challenge each other as writers and fight for what we believe is right.

 

Every week, our staff gathers in the office to debate on ideas for stories. On a daily basis, I struggle with thinking about anything but the newspaper. It’s actually kind of sad, really.

 

This obsession, although unhealthy, is fueled by our desire to be great journalists. While we’re only college students starting our careers, the Independent Collegian is our foundation for doing something great.

 

The staff is so deeply committed to the paper that after being hit hard this year with a steep decline in advertising revenue, we agreed to stop being paid on March 9, saving us almost $4,000 and cutting pay for 10 stipends for the rest of the academic year.

 

Granted, our editors weren’t making much to begin with, but we have 50 students working for our newspaper who aren’t paid. There is nothing here but an obsession to share stories, a commitment to doing our jobs and a promise to uphold to our responsibilities as truth-seeking journalists.

 

This passion that runs so deep is stimulated by our desire to provide a platform for individuals to use our newspaper to address issues affecting our communities. While everyone has a voice, not everyone has the privilege of their voice being heard.

 

If we were to transition online completely, we would lose sense of everything we stand for. Newspapers have the power to deliver the world each day.

 

We would lose our sense of community that encourages us to think critically and work with different kinds of individuals.

 

There is art in the way newspapers are composed and delivered. An entire thought process goes behind evaluating content worthy of making the front page.

 

It’s truly an experience that challenges editors to format their pages, place photos in an orderly fashion and adjust content to look appealing, yet interesting to read.

 

When this content is delivered online, the purpose gets lost. The sense of community gets lost. The journalistic integrity gets lost.

 

What readers instead end up with is a mass of photos, videos and comments diminished in value, much like a personal blog.

 

Readers, on the other hand, lose the experience of flipping through pages and happening upon content they wouldn’t normally read.

 

Newspapers are the foundation of journalism and are critical even for students pursuing a degree in broadcasting, as they teach individuals the true essence of journalism. It reminds us time and time again that we have a responsibility to uphold and a purpose to serve the public.

 

For these reasons, keeping the print paper is a priority for us. We have already cut $15,000 from our budget for 2017-18 and, this year, launched a fundraising campaign, something never done before.

 

We are taking the necessary steps in making sure we survive. As of next year, we will be printing biweekly, totaling 16 issues instead of our usual 30. This alone cuts $10,000 from our budget.

 

Moving forward, our fundraising goals for each year include raising $35,000. While this goal may seem a little ambitious, it is well thought out, and a plan we have already started putting in place.

 

The funds we raise from the Day of Giving and through the annual fundraising campaign will help cover operational expenses and replenish our foundation account. Additionally, they will help keep us afloat in years with lower ad revenue.

 

The grants that we apply for cannot be used for administrative costs like salaries but can instead be used to upgrade our technology, build a new website and increase training for our students and faculty.

 

Our fundraising plan includes everything from small campaigns, phone banks and Chipotle fundraisers to special events.

 

As the editor-in-chief, my plans for next year involve fundraising, applying for grants and transitioning into a multimedia platform. We want to be more involved in the community by bringing attention to issues that challenge our culture today.

 

When it comes to expanding our presence online, we have already taken steps to build our standing on social media. From posting videos to put a face to the names behind bylines to immediately posting time-sensitive content, we’re slowly building ourselves.

 

We’re not asking you to throw your money at a failing organization. We’re asking you to take a chance and share our vision. We have the potential to change this campus.

 

We have struggled through this year with limited finances yet continued to deliver high quality content. Imagine what we could do if we have your support.

 

Individuals who want to support the paper can make donations to our PayPal account or donate a specific item to our Amazon Wish List through our website.

 

Supporters of the Collegian can also help us spread the word, like and share our social media pages and publicize our fundraising events. The support starts from our readers: We need you now more than ever.

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