Letter from the Spring 2017 Managing Editor: Print is precocious, pertinent
The joke in the newsroom is that we have “tens of readers.”
Overall, the news and media industry is shrinking. The Editor & Publisher’s DataBook listed there were 126 fewer daily papers in 2014 than in 2004. For printed news in specific, the Pew Research Center reports a drop of 7 percent in weekday circulation.
When I took my introduction to public relations course, we discussed the difference between news mediums. Online is for immediacy, and print is for in-depth, comprehensive reporting. In the digital age, breaking news is a priority amongst organizations, rightfully so. However, I would be remiss in not discussing the importance of print and of the Kaleidoscope.
UAB is situated in the burgeoning city of Birmingham. With the rise of the city, one can expect a rise in attendance, importance and reach in regards to UAB. How do we, then, communicate relevant information to students?
The answer is obvious: their peers. The Kaleidoscope is UAB’s student-run newspaper available online every day and in print every Tuesday. Why am I explaining this? Why do I feel the need to include this in an article that is clearly going to be published both in print and online and will be exclusively available through the Kaleidoscope? The answer, simply, is that I hope this information is shared in such a way that when student journalists of Christmas future say they work for the Kaleidoscope, the follow-up question won’t be, “What is that?”
If I have learned anything in my year and a half with this paper, it’s the effort put in to finding the most interesting and relevant information.
I must commend my Editor-in-Chief and my fellow staff in particular this last semester. Not only did we completely overhaul the design and layout of the paper from a tabloid to a broadsheet, but we also made a concerted effort to expand our sections in order to give our readers greater access not only to their campus but to the community around them.
Almost every student knows Godfrey, the singing librarian. How many knew that he was formerly an opera singer? How many knew that he was a student at UAB in the first place? How many students would have known that information and would have been able to see Godfrey in a different light had the Kaleidoscope not made the effort to share that with readers?
How many students live off-campus in a situation where they pay a water bill to the Birmingham Water Works? How many students know about the alleged scandal regarding billing there? How many would know if they had not seen the headline where the newspaper sits in the library or the Hill Student Center?
How many people know the struggles and the background stories behind the players that make UAB Athletics? How many people know the names of the football players who are coming in or coming back to UAB after the long fight to bring football back? Who else is making this information available?
The information is online, yes. However, I can attest to the fact that when I see an online article, I am more prone to skimming through it than digesting the information.
Print is eye-catching; print is in-depth; print has the ability to present a package of the most relevant news in a however-many-page format that is bundled and put together in a way that is clear, concise and has a vision.
It makes you want to read it and it makes you want to pay attention. Our reporters and editors recognize this and they go above and beyond to make sure that what they are putting in the newspaper is information that is important.
There is always a story to tell. I feel as if I can speak for myself and my fellow Kaleidoscope staff in saying that we are honored to be the ones to help tell the story. We don’t give up our Sundays to read, edit and design a newspaper lightly. We do it because we recognize the importance of facts, truth and our fellow students.
In the future, I want to see readership grow and I want to see students engaged with the paper. We cannot accurately gauge the interest in certain things without help from the student body. We, student journalists, depend on you, our readers.
Like I said, there’s always a story to tell. Maybe it’s yours.
Tessa Case can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tessedup.