End of Print

This year, we moved our school news newspaper from a printed tabloid to an all-online magazine. And it wasn’t that hard.

OK, first some background. The school has never had a strong newspaper. The paper has changed it’s masthead more than most people change clothes in a week. Advertiser support was almost none and the school’s journalism budget covered technology and supplies, but not printing.

So, for the last 11 years the newspaper was at the mercy of the ad manager. A student ad manager. We had about three good ones in 11 years. So, we had about six good years. In bad years, we had choices to make. The yearbook often had extra money and would buy “in-house” ads to cover printing costs. Other years we cut issues or pages, meaning that some student work never was published. Often it was deserving of publication, but space limited our ability to publish it. And finally, a few times we actually had a budget surplus in travel money or something and used it to cover printing costs. None of these solutions were good or permanent.

So, this year we went 100% digital. Plus, the newspaper (now a magazine) is designed by the yearbook class. In 2002, the newspaper took a total nosedive in recruiting – only three kids signed up. So, I folded the newspaper staff into the yearbook class. That was not a popular decision. But in the long run it worked. The yearbook staff needed to improved their journalism skills anyway. In three years the kids didn’t know the difference anyway. I waited them out.

But the yearbook kids still hated newspaper design – it was boring. Too rigid and just not interesting. So, we ditched the newspaper format last year and moved to a magazine. But printing costs were still eating us up. We couldn’t come out on a regular basis. Plus the students wanted a full color magazine. They said kids want color. They were right. So we got rid of paper.

Our magazine is now a PDF file online. Anyone with a computer can read or print it out. It is definitely worth the effort, but we are still working on getting the kids to move to the online idea. I think we will get there, but it will take time.

Let me know what you think about it.

Mr. C

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