College papers not immune to economic crunch
College newspapers are being hurt by the state of the economy, according to Bryan Murley in a PBS MediaShift article published today.
Some had assumed "college newspapers would weather the storms of the changing media environment better than their peers in the wider industry," according to Murley.
I've heard this assumption in the past as part of the campus newspaper staff at St. John Fisher College and now DePaul University. The thought is that college papers are so "niche" that they are more likely to succeed, and also that the young people running these newspapers are more likely to be plugged into social networks like Facebook to help promote their work.
The problem goes back to advertising. Like other print publications, college newspapers are now suffering from "a decline in advertising revenue" per the article. Free classifieds online and businesses' reluctance to transfer their print accounts to the Web are part of the problem.
General manager of the Daily Pennsylvanian Eric Jacobs said "the drop in national advertising was like falling off a cliff." He also expects declines in local advertising in the coming months.
Murley states that college papers are cutting back costs to deal with the advertising decline. For example, the Daily Orange at Syracuse University and Daily Californian at University of California at Berkeley both dropped a publication day last fall.
It will be interesting to monitor long-term affects of the economic crunch on college newspapers and how the conditions improve as the economy recovers.