The Daily to cancel summer papers, become online-only in July
The Oklahoma Daily's summer content will be online-only beginning in July. The final weekly summer paper will be published June 27, six weeks earlier than scheduled.
OU Student Media leaders discussed The Daily becoming a digital-only product for the remainder of the summer semester during a meeting with the OU Publications Board executive committee Wednesday in Copeland Hall, Room 146. The Publication Board is the governing body for The Daily and Sooner yearbook.
The decision to quit publishing the weekly summer paper was unanimous, and The Daily will resume printing Aug 16.
AT A GLANCE
• Lynn Crussel, Staff Senate appointee
• Joe Foote, ex-officio member
• Joe Sangirardi, UOSA appointee
AT A GLANCE
OU Student Media leaders in attendance
It will be the first time The Daily will not appear in print during a full semester, faculty adviser Judy Gibbs Robinson said. The newspaper has served as the university's independent student voice since 1916.
Cutting the weekly paper will allow the department to save money. Advertising revenues traditionally drop in the summer months when not as many students are on campus, and the department loses money because of printing costs, said Anne Richard, Student Media associate director.
But the financial motivation to become digital-only was not the only reason discussed at the meeting.
As people's news-consumption habits change, The Daily must evolve to better serve its readers, editor in chief Chris Lusk said.
"To survive and be sustainable, we need to be a Web-first organization," Lusk said. "That doesn't necessarily mean a print product can't coexist with OUDaily.com, but we need to change how we think about our approach."
The move is a good decision, said Joe Foote, dean of Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Foote is an ex-officio member of the Publications Board.
“Journalism has changed profoundly in the last decade, and The Daily is changing along with it, “ Foote said.
To draw students in, The Daily needs to produce strong Web content that will increase their desire for a digital product rather than focusing on the loss of the print product, Foote said.
“Good journalism shouldn’t go away even if the print newspaper does,” he said.
Lusk told the committee members that the summer semester is typically a good time for the organization to try new things and experiment, but this summer is perfect because of the department's upcoming initiative.
In the fall, Student Media leaders will launch a yearlong study to learn how they can improve The Daily's services. The project will include focus groups, surveys and panels, said Brian Ringer, Student Media director. The objective is to determine if The Daily should remain a five-day-a-week publication, switch to a digital-only organization or something in between.
"At the end of everything, we might decide printing five days a week is what is best for our community," Ringer said. "But going all-digital this summer will help us learn some things."
Student Media leaders need to improve The Daily's services by redesigning OUDaily.com, creating new advertising opportunities and more. By dropping the paper now, the department can spend the rest of the summer learning more about the needs readers and advertisers have online, Lusk said.
"If we're digital-only, we're forced to pay attention to what the audience says is working online and what's not," he said. "This is just the first step that will lead us to a new and improved Daily."