Oklahoma college newspapers experiment with web ventures, advertising

State college newspaper advisers discuss how student publications are following commercial newspapers by experimenting with online content and advertising.
by Tiffany Gibson Published: June 24, 2012
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Much like commercial newspapers, college newsrooms are facing obstacles when it comes to covering print costs and venturing into the digital world.

Earlier this month, University of Oklahoma officials announced The Oklahoma Daily would stop printing a paper during the summer and focus on its website.

The last summer break print edition will be published June 27, but the paper will resume printing in August.

“We have been talking about going to more of a digital first philosophy for awhile. Summer is just a really great time for us to try new things,” said Anne Richard, OU associate director for student media.

Richard said it costs $300 per issue to print the paper in the summer, and the university hopes to save money by scaling back.

“It is costly to print during the summer, and there are fewer students on campus,” she said. “I definitely think the goal is always to save money and do what makes sense for both our readers and advertisers.”

Yearlong study

Richard said the university plans to conduct a yearlong study to generate reader feedback and recommendations.

The study will consist of focus groups that will have a chance to discuss new digital products and how to improve the paper.

“Often times, those people are the ones who can offer the best recommendations for what they'd like to see, what we should be offering,” she said.

The study will include discussions about social media and mobile news consumption, she said.

Web-focused

The staff also will work on the newspaper's website, OUDaily.com, and possibly redesign the site, Richard said. She said the staff has noticed a steady increase in online advertising and will continue to explore that option.

As more analytics become available and people begin to understand the measurements, Richard thinks online advertising will continue to grow.

Daily Editor Chris Lusk, 27, said he hopes the digital initiative will get staff into the rhythm of a constant news cycle and find a better way to tell stories in print.

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by Tiffany Gibson
News Online Editor
Tiffany Gibson has worked for the Oklahoman since August 2011 and is a member of the digital news team. In addition to writing and web editing, she also creates multimedia features for the website and maintains social media accounts. A Tennessee...
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