How to Breathe New Life Into a College Newspaper

How to Breathe New Life Into a College Newspaper
  • Opening Intro -

    College newspapers are still being produced, giving journalism majors a place where they can cut their teeth on all matters of reporting.

    Journalism today is, however, facing increasing pressures as other forms of news dissemination, such as blogs, have made it more difficult for newspapers to thrive.

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On the junior college level, some newspapers have ceased publication for lack of funds. If your newspaper is struggling to maintain relevance, the following tips can stir your local version of the fourth estate.

Review your content — What is it that your newspaper is telling its readers? Is the news current and is it original? A rehash of news already shared elsewhere simply won’t do. Your news must be relevant to your student body and be written from a perspective that students can understand. For instance, reporting on a multi-million cut to the state budget for higher education isn’t specific enough. Find out how these cuts will impact students such as raising their tuition by “X” amount, a move that would result in the layoff of faculty, increase class size or trim club funding. Find the correlation between the story and your readers, and then get very specific with your details.

Work those headlines — You can have the best stories, but if your headlines don’t pop, your readers may never notice. Keep your headlines brief and make every word count. Your journalism professor has likely stressed that you should use an active voice and avoid a hidden meaning such as double entendres. To learn additional ways of creating attention getting headlines, check out Copyblogger’s magnetic headlines series to practice this craft.

Give satire a try — Perhaps your student newspaper lacks relevance because it does not offer an entertainment component. Certainly, your paper may tell its readers about the next college play or sporting contest, but that information may not be enough. An angle that your newspaper might take is to abandon the straight news and go with the satirical. Here, you can still tell the same story, but employ satire. Much as The Onion offers tongue-in-cheek news, your school newspaper might do the same. Take a current events college topic and employ surrealism, irony or parody to make your point.

Save the trees, go digital — Of course, if your campus is all about sustainability and your college still produces hard copies of your daily, then you’re in conflict with what your school is all about. Abandon dead tree media once and for all and pour all of your resources into a truly 21st century digital publication. You still get to share your news, but instead of picking up ink-stained copies of your publication, your readers can get their daily news updated via an RSS feed, from an email link or by going directly to your online site. You will need to master social media to help your site maintain its relevance, keeping up a Facebook page, tweeting your news and making it easy for your readers to leave comments.

Fourth Estate Considerations

Bringing a college newspaper back from the dead can be more difficult than fixing one that simply needs a boost. Crossing the digital divide is possible and even preferable as this Read Write Web article notes. By going digital, your editors can concentrate more on their journalism than spending their time laying out pages.

College Financing reference:

finding money for college guide

 
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