There are plans to stop production of your university newspaper. You feel that the newspaper should be saved. You decide to write a proposal to the university suggesting a digital version of the paper.
A proposal for a digital version of the university newspaper
This proposal intends to outline how a digital version of the university newspaper, The Scallion, could function and aims to show that an online paper is viable for the future of the newspaper. It draws on the views of 3,000 students surveyed in May.
The Scallion is printed weekly and distributed free in faculty buildings, with a readership of approximately 10,000 students. It is written and produced entirely by students. The survey shows that the newspaper is highly valued by university students and staff for entertainment, cultural enrichment and work experience.
The cost of printing newspapers is significant. Furthermore, some students do not have easy access to the paper, since the only way to obtain a copy is to physically go to university. An additional environmental issue is that a large number of copies end up as litter on campus.
It is proposed that the newspaper could shift to an online format. An overwhelming majority (95 per cent) of survey respondents were 'keen' or 'very keen' on this.
The key benefits would be:
- Lower costs. Electronic publication is much cheaper than printing, and the website would require minimal maintenance. Although there are considerable initial costs of developing a website, these would be offset over time.
- Improved accessibility. Students unable to collect a copy and those with visual impairments would be able to read the paper online.
- Eco-friendliness. A website would reduce paper usage and produce no litter.
- Digital media experience. For student journalists, gaining experience in running a web-based news site would be invaluable for any job which involves digital communication.
One issue is information management. The site would have to comply with data protection and privacy laws. Advice should be sought from the IT department.
Another drawback may be personal preference. Twenty-five per cent of survey respondents liked having a physical paper to flick through in a café. However, as this is a minority view, I would suggest that the benefits of the online paper outweigh the inconvenience on this issue.
The results of the consultation suggest that moving the paper online is the best option given that it would reduce costs, be more environmentally-friendly and reach a larger audience. A change to a digital format is therefore recommended to maintain the benefits of the newspaper while addressing its current difficulties.