Revamping student media

The digital age has turned journalism inside out, but not until recently has it had much of an impact on student media. College media at the University of Oregon, Arizona State University and the University of Virginia (just to name a few), have cut down frequency of their print newspapers and focused on innovative, economically efficient ways to serve their communities.

Focusing on one example: between April 2011 and May 2012, the University of Oregon’s Daily Emerald transformed itself into a new student media operation, cutting publication frequency from daily to twice a week, switching to a more magazine-style format and focusing on real-time digital delivery of news. (Read more about the transformation from College Media Matters.) The rebirth of student media at Oregon started with its publisher challenging students to forget their 112-year history and pretend they’re starting from scratch.

A task for your students:
Do the same thing. Create a plan for rebuilding a student news organization from the ground up. Given the lessons from Oregon, what would you do differently? How would you go about understanding what the campus community needed and shape a journalistically sound mission around that? Each student should draw up a plan with at least 20 steps. Discuss in class. Are there common themes? Now, imagine you’ve done all the community research and engagement and are ready to write the mission statement. Prepare your proposal carefully, including the business model that would sustain the organization.