Today is the last printed Friday edition of the Mustang Daily.
The change ends a long period of the Daily being one of the few student-run and student-printed five-day papers, and the decision was not made quickly or easily. The idea has been floating around for a few years, and the launch of the new mustangdaily.net Web site in April gave us confidence that we could still be a productive news source for the Cal Poly campus and community without our Friday print issue.
While our mission is to provide news, the Daily is also a business. In keeping with trends in the news industry, we can no longer sustain a five-day a week printed edition. Advertisers don’t want to buy space in Friday editions, assuming that there is less readership since there are fewer people on campus, and printing costs are also going up. In actuality, the number of unused issues on Fridays is only slightly higher than on other days, but advertising revenue is how the Mustang Daily supports itself, and since demand for Friday advertising is less, we must react accordingly.
The Mustang Daily is however still considered a daily paper within college media organizations, and not just because of our name. Four days a week or more qualify as daily when referring to student newspapers, and in fact we will still produce the same amount of content — Friday will just be online-only.
The silver lining is that we’ll be able to concentrate that much more effort on our already award-winning Web site. Online journalism offers opportunities for innovation and timeliness that print does not.
Unlike the stagnant pages of a newspaper, our Web site is almost limitless — we can publish all the content we produce and diversify the way we present that information without the constraints of pages. The Internet has allowed journalism to grow beyond words and pictures on a page into stories accompanied by video, audio slideshows and interactive Flash presentations.
Like any media organization, the student newspaper of Cal Poly has changed a lot since its creation as The Polygram in 1916, but regardless of how information looks, the Daily is dedicated to quality content.
When I started working at the Daily in 2006, it was mostly a print organization. The Web site was still brand new and the journalism department curriculum had no mention of computers being used beyond design, word processing and “shovel-ware” (copying and pasting all print content online).
We used Quark, red pens and point-and-shoot cameras. In copy editing class, we learned to write headlines of pre-determined length by counting out the spaces that each letter would take. A large M would take more space than a small i, and so on. Font size, leading and kerning were not taken into consideration.
Now, both the Daily and department have branched out to embrace online journalism. We launched our new Web site that’s more interactive, branched out into new kinds of multimedia and started a Web-first production schedule.
The Daily’s transformation over such a small period of four years signifies the rapid changes in the rest of the industry. Though its processes and scheduling are moving to optimize the Web site, we are not neglecting our print product. Instead, as young journalists we’re learning to work with the new media innovations that are shaping the industry and our future job market.
I’m excited to see what the Daily can do with the new schedule; with one less day to design and one exclusively online day, editors and designers can put more time and effort into improving the week’s print product while thinking of innovative ways to use the Web.
Unlike our faculty adviser, professor Teresa Allen, who left journalism school knowing she would be a print journalist for her entire career, the graduates of today do not (or should not) know what their jobs will be in five years.
Convention is being turned on its head, with traditional newspapers cutting staffs, using more wire content and trying to make money online. Meanwhile, startup online-only news sites are funneling all their resources into reporting and many of them have high readership in their communities.
Most newspapers are cutting down on staff, but the Mustang Daily staff is particularly small, especially when compared to other daily college papers such as the Daily Bruin at University of California, Los Angeles and Daily Aztec at San Diego State.
Since we have fewer journalism majors available to write on staff, we encourage the entire campus to get involved, from freelance reporting, to sending photographs or guest commentaries, to commenting in a letter to the editor or on our Web site. The Daily can only improve with more perspectives.
Journalism is an interesting, albeit poorly-paying, industry to be in, in which a “good” job out of college would be almost anything that pays and offers some potential for experience.
As a graduating senior, I don’t know what kind of job I’ll have in three weeks, years or decades. A lot of college journalists are intimidated by this and are jumping ship, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to be part of this industry in the middle of a major transformation.
Giana Magnoli is a journalism senior and the managing editor of the Mustang Daily.