I serve as faculty adviser for the student newspaper on campus. It’s a small one – monthly with about eight pages. I have been approached by the school administrator asking if we could move the newspaper online thus saving some costs for the school – I said no, that it would kill this paper, as I doubt how many students would proactively follow the online edition.
My concern grows out of the pros and cons of push vs. pull media. Dictionary.com has an entry on push/pull media. Broadcast is a typical push media – audiences wait for the contents to be pushed to them; online media is pull media – audiences need to take the action to request something to be sent over. If a person has a choice between picking up a newspaper at the doorstep vs. logging on to their computer, typing in web address and clicking links around, many people would choose the easy or, lazy way, out.
In the case of a small campus newspaper, unless the contents are compelling enough, it is difficult to think positive of the possible online following.
A recent trend is for college newspapers to develop iPhone applications, such as Texas Student Media, a free iPhone app created solely for the student newspaper at University of Texas. Like a regular commercial media app, this app brings contents of the regular newspaper to students’ phones – a new form of “push” media, or maybe a mixture of both.
No statistics are available as to how apps like this are perceived by their target audiences – the students.
What holds true is this: only for truly compelling contents, audiences (students) will follow – anywhere they go.