Over the past few weeks, I heard a few people mention that The Concordian should become digital, much like SGA’s choice to let all students have digital access to the New York Times.
While there can be good arguments made to try and advocate for a digital Concordian, I think there are many people who don’t understand The Concordian and how we work.
Feel free to take a minute to read the letter to the editor by Justin Marquette published alongside this editorial to see how you feel. But at least for me, a multimedia journalism major who has worked for three print newspapers, I will advocate for print publications for as long as I live.
When I was handed the reigns of The Concordian at the end of last school year, I had one goal in mind: Get more people to read the paper.
I developed different goals throughout the summer and into the beginning of the school year, but I still was committed to promoting more readership.
I decided I wanted to increase the number of copies each week and took a gamble. Would students, staff and faculty here want to read more copies of the paper each week? If we wrote articles that were thought provoking and informative on the issues we face at Concordia, would the people be more receptive?
The results were better than I hoped for. I decided to increase the number of copies delivered last year, 1,200, to 1,500 this year. Last year, there were hundreds of copies of the paper left after each week. A majority of the papers sat in the Atrium and were read by no one.
This year, I personally delivered 1,500 copies around campus, and after the first issue, less than 100 remained across all of campus. This has been largely the same result from week to week throughout the year. Of course some weeks are better than others, but our readership is up more than 25 percent from last year.
But when I started hearing students say, “I wonder how many Concordians will go to waste this week?” I felt the need to defend the organization for which I have been on staff for four years.
I understand what SGA did when they decided to get rid of physical copies of the NYT and give a digital subscription to everyone on campus. And when I mean everyone, I mean everyone.
Before, when there were just physical copies of the NYT and other publications, only a select number of students, faculty and staff had access to those. Around 15 copies were available per day.
It doesn’t seem logical to me if you complain about not having access to physical copies of the NYT, when only 15 people could get a copy of the paper every day. Now more than 2,500 people have access to it every single day. This move by SGA seems like a no-brainer to me. Providing access to the entire campus seems preferable to almost no one having access.
Concordia College is not responsible for writing, editing or producing any copy of The Concordian. While it is true that President Craft is the publisher of the paper because he is the president of our college, he has never, at least during my time on staff, told us what or what not to do. I am grateful that, as a staff, we have full reign over what we can publish.
Our paper is a way to teach future journalists, and becoming solely digital would undermine that. Throughout the year, more than 30 students have worked for the paper. If we were a digital publication, that number would be much less.
Print newspapers aren’t dead, so why should we not teach our students how to work for one?
We sell ads, manage accounts, maintain business relationships and much more. Sure, we could become digital but many aspects we learn about print publications would be lost.
We also don’t just publish the same content online as in print. For instance, when we have weeks when there is no issue, we publish our work online. We also have a reviews blog, which regularly updates reviews for music, movies, food and other things.
Our budget is also not connected to Concordia’s. We are lucky enough to receive a small portion of every student’s activity fee to pay for our paper. The rest is made up through our advertising revenue.
Our printing revenues aren’t part of Concordia’s either. We pay The Forum to print our papers through our own budget.
I think our readership would decrease severely if we were a purely digital publication. It’s easy to toss aside emails which would read “Today’s Concordian Headlines” but it’s hard to deny the existence of a copy of The Concordian which exist all over campus.
What I am trying to say is we are not an enemy of Concordia’s sustainability and budget goals. We are an organization which exists almost as if it was independent from this institution. We are completely student-run, with student content. We exist for the students and to report on issues important to this college.
While we may have a website, I firmly believe The Concordian would be crippled if we weren’t able to have print copies.
The Concordian has existed as an organization for longer than almost every organization on campus. To deprive us, and campus, of a paper which has been a staple of Concordia for so long seems unsustainable.
Concordia is a sustainable college and works to promote it more every year. But to practice sustainability at the expense of the education of our students is unacceptable.
So, if you are unhappy with the amount of copies of the paper left over from each week, remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.
We are going to continue to print The Concordian week in and week out, inciting conversation, covering controversy and hopefully, continuing excellence.