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Editorial

Student Voice seeks involvement, support in transition to online format

April 26, 2018

The world of news media, as a whole, has been faced with some interesting challenges in recent years. The model for journalism has changed with the coming of the internet, for starters; it’s more difficult to get subscribers and advertisers to pay, the twenty-four-hour news cycle has changed the pace at which news is disseminated and journalists have to work twice as hard to ensure that they are heard amidst the online rabble that competes for audience’s attention.

Newsrooms around the country have been shrinking as a result of these changes. More is demanded of them – journalists have to be reporters, editors, photographers, social media experts and graphic designers – even as funding is shrinking and fewer people are hired to do these jobs.

UW-River Falls campus media, sadly, is no exception. Participation in clubs like Prologue and the WRFW radio station has been on the decline; people in leadership positions often graduate without replacement, leaving their responsibilities to inexperienced freshmen who are then burdened with keeping the club afloat.

The Student Voice is going through a particularly rough transition. This year, there’s eight members on staff, and most of them are doing triple-duty as editors, photographers and reporters. The work is also completely volunteer-based, as very few advertisers still want to invest in printed ads.

The majority of our staff will be leaving next year, including the editor and assistant editor. This has led us to the decision to move to an online format in the hopes that going digital-only will encourage better reporting and increased readership. Most audiences have transitioned to reading their news online, and the Student Voice already has an established webpage at uwrfvoice.com that can be updated to meet the needs of readers.

We think this paper is important to keep alive for the same reason major news outlets are important. We keep an eye on student government and university administration, which is the main goal of any news outlet. Being this “watchdog” ensures that people in power cannot make decisions behind closed doors, and allows audiences to potentially step in when they see something they don’t like. We also inform students of events and issues that are ongoing across the university.

We would like to take this time to encourage our readers to get involved with the Student Voice. For those who are journalism or communications majors, working at the paper is an opportunity that should not be wasted. Having this experience on your resume is a massive point in your favor when trying to forge a communications career, and this valuable job experience won’t be around in the future if students allow it to die off. Being a journalism major isn’t a requirement, either; having a diverse group of majors and opinions on staff will only enhance the quality of the paper.

There are no other news sources that cover the campus like we do, but we can’t keep doing our job without people. We hope you continue on this journey with us as we move to an online format after over 100 years in print, and we encourage you to be involved in the transition.

Comments

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2 responses to Student Voice seeks involvement, support in transition to online format

  1. Michael McLaren says:

    As a former Voice editor (1989), it’s hard to see the printed Voice go away. On the other hand, stasis isn’t good if the craft is to evolve, and this is simply an evolutionary step in the journey. In my era, we shifted the production technology from Compugraphics to Mac computers and won design awards. Future Voice staffs moved the paper into the digital age with websites, blogs and social media and reached new audiences. The technology will always change, reader’s needs and expectations change, and the delivery medium changes, but the need for good writing, reportage, story telling will always be the same. In fact, the sharing, social circle-centric internet has made it so we prefer to connect through stories now; to read and share things that matter and relate specifically to us. So, in that sense, you guys are right on track, and will likely be better prepared for life as real-time-centric journalists in an all-digital world.

  2. Rob Bignell says:

    As a former Voice editor (86-87), seeing the print edition disappear marks a sad day, like the loss of a long-time friend. The death of a paper edition doesn’t mean the death of journalism, though; indeed, readership of news actually is at an all-time high as the Internet has made reporting from many different outlets accessible. Digital storytelling is part of the evolution of this storytelling; indeed, during my time there, the rising popularity of USA Today with its shorter stories and graphic-oriented presentations caused us to redesign the paper and reapproach the way we presented information to readers. Regardless of how the news is presented, a thirst for information existed then, exists now, and will exist in the future. Best of wishes to the staff and the Voice as it transitions to its new format.