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Are College News Editors Ready for Digital Age?

Yesterday I gave a talk to some 50 college student newspaper editors and managers about Reinventing Newspapers. Most had not heard of citizen journalism projects like OhmyNews, Northwest Voice or MyMissourian. The editors, from small colleges to major universities, were at the annual Management Seminar for College Newspaper Editors hosted by Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies at the University of Georgia’s Grady College.

I would say their colleges, journalism schools, communication departments and advisors have some catching up to do. These are tomorrow’s newsroom leaders. They are not under the gun because one advisor told me that college newspapers are doing incredibly well. They are free. They have a captive audience.

Nonetheless, the 2006 College Newspaper Readership Survey, reports:

One troubling statistic for campus newspaper advertising and classified managers is the reduction in the percentage of respondents who use online classifieds. In 2005, 31% of respondents said they used their online campus newspaper’s classified listings. However, in 2006, only 26% of respondents made the same statement. Presumably, this reduction is the result of the expansion and adoption of free online classifieds sites, such as

So there is encroachment even in the campus cocoon. The bigger point, of course, is that these students are their campus newsrooms’ leaders. They should be better versed in the digital revolution than almost anyone else on their campuses. I don’t want to make an grand pronouncements after one hour, but it seems they need to hear more about and join the discussion of the future of media, and especially, the newspapers.

The blog Reinventing College Media is an excellent start. In fact, I was invited to make the presentation based on an interview entitled Open Source Reinvention conducted by Bryan Murley at Reinventing College Media.

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