Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
I still remember my first front-page byline in The Diamondback. After I covered a breaking story about a Residence Hall Association proposal, I realized the article I’d written had made it into the print edition — and it was thrilling.
A lot has changed since I was a freshman, and the three years I’ve worked at this paper have certainly been eventful. We’ve been at the forefront for the coverage of many national stories, including the death of a Maryland football player and the scandal that followed, without losing sight of the smaller, day-to-day happenings on the campus and the city of College Park. We’ve also published a slew of special projects, launched a new podcast and revamped our website and social media presence.
And over time, the way our audience interacts with our content has changed as well. In the late 1970s, our print circulation was at a high at just over 20,000 per day, a number that held steady into the ‘90s. Now, we’re at a weekly distribution of 5,000 — not bad, but far from the reach that our digital presence has. Our website has had more than 160,000 unique visitors in September alone, which is over eight times the number of people our weekly print paper reaches per month.
Our readers have shown us that this is how they consume news, so we’re meeting them where they are. By the end of this academic year, The Diamondback will cease publishing its weekly print edition while continuing its digital focus.
Like other college and professional publications, maintaining advertising revenue is a challenge. But this change is driven by much more than financial considerations.
We’re a student-run newspaper with two key goals: teaching student journalists the skills they’ll use in the field, and reporting well on our community. We don’t have unlimited resources to accomplish those goals, so we have to decide the best ways to reach our audience and capitalize on them. We could continue to print a weekly paper, but given that’s not where we’re seeing most of our readership, it doesn’t make the most sense.
So, we’re doing what does. In addition to our new podcast, we’re planning to feature our content on TVs across the campus, develop an app, put more resources into our investigative work and more. We’ll keep covering the news that we’ve always covered — sitting in the back rows of crowded City Council and student government meetings, chasing down interviews with sources across campus — all while finding new ways to tell stories.
Those are just a few of the ways we’re staying in step with the digital focus we’ve been cultivating for years — and as we move forward, your voices will continue to be important to us. If you have ideas, want to share your thoughts or be part of the work we’re doing here, feel free to reach out on social media or via email.
We’re excited to see what comes out of this transition. For 110 years, The Diamondback has published award-winning journalism that’s adapted to its audience. We started as a daily print paper, cut the Friday edition, became a weekly, and by the end of this academic year, we’ll be all-online.
Throughout it all, our vision has remained consistent: We believe in telling the stories of our community. So that’s what we’re going to keep on doing.
Leah Brennan is the editor in chief of The Diamondback. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.