No decisions have been made about the future of the Daily Reveille or any other product of LSU Student Media, and all decisions will be made in extensive consultation with the students working in our various media products.
A recent story in the Advocate, mentioning the possibility of cutting the Reveille from five days a week to one or two, generated a strong reaction among alumni and students, which we understand and welcome. Our driving concern in pursuing a new strategy for LSU Student Media is to continue providing an experience that will create such strong and passionate livelong connections.
Some of the reaction has understandably focused on the possibility of print frequency and has incorrectly presumed that this would be a decision made unilaterally by administrators. To ensure that everyone in this discussion knows all the facts, we want to clarify this situation:
- The most important factors in whatever decisions we make will be serving the university community’s needs and providing relevant experience for our students to help them prepare for media careers. Our community’s heavy digital use is clear, and the importance of digital media will only grow during the careers of our students. We need to provide more and better digital products and more and better opportunities for today’s and tomorrow’s students to practice journalism and sales in digital media.
- We have not decided to reduce the print frequency of the Daily Reveille, and we won’t in the fall semester at least. In fact, we are considering increasing the frequency this fall with Saturday editions, to be distributed at tailgate parties across campus, for every home game. While no final decision has been made in either matter, the game-day Reveille decision will come first, since we have to prepare quickly if we are going to launch that product.
- Any changes to the Student Media leadership structure must be approved by the Student Media Board, which has student government, university and professional representation. We have informed the board about the discussions already taking place. We welcome board input on all matters we are considering and will submit all required matters to the board for approval.
- Students have been involved in our discussions about the future from before Dean Jerry Ceppos hired me as director of Student Media. I explained my vision for a prosperous future for LSU Student Media in detail in the interview process, including at two meetings with students. Immediately on being hired in mid-May, I shared that vision in writing and in personal and telephone discussions with student leaders in the organization.
- The timing of my hire, right as students were scattering for the summer, did not allow for a large meeting of all student leaders, but I continued the discussions by email, telephone, in individual meetings and on collaborative Google documents. In all of those conversations, I made clear that students would be involved at every step, and they have.
- The only decision to change any existing product was initiated by Akeem Muhammad, the student editor of Legacy magazine. He proposed cutting print publication from four issues a year to two, with a stronger digital presence using Tumblr. I encouraged him to get started on those changes right away, and they have been incorporated into the 2015-16 budget.
- Financial challenges facing LSU Student Media are serious, and we cannot continue to draw on our reserve fund at the rate we have the past two years. In trying to balance this year’s budget, we gave serious consideration to cutting the print frequency of the Reveille as early as the spring semester as a matter of necessity. We rejected that measure, for now, specifically because we wanted this decision, if it happens, to come only after discussions with the students and as part of an overall strategy to aggressively pursue digital opportunities. If we do not succeed in generating more revenue for LSU Student Media, finances may force such a decision in the future. But the only decision that has been made about the Reveille’s printing schedule is that it will continue at five days a week for the fall, unless we add a sixth day for home football games.
- Our new advertising and marketing director, Molly Holmgren, just started Monday. We are confident that she will lead our sales and marketing teams to improved revenue performance. But in a time when newspaper ad revenue has been plunging nationally for nearly a decade, we cannot assume a return to our peak advertising levels. Our strategic discussions also include possible new products that could provide a healthier, diverse revenue stream to support Student Media.
We welcome the interest and passion about the Daily Reveille and the journalism experience and education we provide in LSU Student Media. All discussions and decisions about our future strategy will involve the students and will be made to provide the best experience and education for current and future students.