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Posts Tagged ‘Daily Reveille’

I was the keynote speaker last night for the Future of Student Media Summit hosted by the Post, the student print and digital news operation at Ohio University.

Below is the blog version of the prepared part of my session, interspersed with tweets from the participants and hyperlinked. It’s not exactly what I said because I wasn’t reading a script. At the end of the post, I’ll explain how I prepared the speech and post and why they’re not identical. (more…)

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As LSU’s Director of Student Media, I occasionally fire off messages to student editors and station managers with suggestions that I usually expect them to ignore. They are independent and they are rightly in charge of their newsrooms, and I didn’t follow a lot of faculty advice when I was their age either.

I sent this message to the editorial board of our newspaper, the Daily Reveille, on Oct. 1:

Message to students

I just checked. I didn’t carbon anyone from the New York Times on the message. But the Times ran a front-page editorial this morning, calling for an end to “the Gun Epidemic in America.”

My students sort of followed my advice (or moved that direction on their own), running some opinions on the front page but more frequently than I suggested. That’s OK, too: The Reveille’s front page and editorials should reflect their judgment, not mine. I’m proud of their work, which has included excellent opinion pieces by columnists and the editorial board on page-one this semester, about such topics as mental health and racial discrimination at bars near campus.

As Kristen Hare’s Poynter piece that I shared with the student editors indicated, newspapers are increasingly responding to important issues by stating opinions on newsprint once reserved for “straight news”: the front page. The New York Times is following this trend, not leading it (nor am I, obviously). Hare’s piece was prompted by this Chicago Sun-Times cover: (more…)

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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.

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reveille logoUpdate: The numbers used in this post were preliminary numbers. I will update after we get the final numbers.

The Daily Reveille and other LSU Student Media products need a new strategy and stronger revenues to continue producing excellent products and providing valuable experience to our students.

I blogged earlier today, in response to a story in the Advocate, about our process for developing a new strategy.

The Advocate’s reporter, Elizabeth Crisp, asked me for revenue figures for her story. I could not provide the figures in time for her story, but here’s what I emailed her this afternoon:

Total Student Media revenue for FY 2015 (all numbers are FYs): $1.4 M. Total operating loss for 2015: $128K. (The loss is covered by a rainy day fund whose name I do not remember, but this was a huge chunk of its balance.)

2014 total revenue for Reveille: $712K, including $219K in student fees. Total expenses: $854K. Loss: $142K

2015 total revenue for Reveille: $563K (a drop of 21 percent): Subtract the student fees, which were $219K both years, and the drop in advertising was 30 percent. Loss: $283K.

I am optimistic that we can turn that around with some new products and with a successful new professional leader for our advertising and marketing teams. And I had some pleasant news on the revenue front this week:

Our Tiger Survival Guide, a print product mailed to incoming freshmen and distributed in the dorms, brought in $14,759 in sales. Last year we got $7,303 for this product and we had budgeted $10,650 for the sales this year. We’re still down from $15,128 in 2013 and $21,671 in 2012, but we are celebrating a significant, if small, change in direction. (These are not fiscal years, since the product comes out in the first month of the fiscal year, the summer before; I had the fiscal-year numbers in my message to Elizabeth, but clarified them here.)

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Advocate storyLast week Elizabeth Crisp of the Advocate emailed me saying she wanted to write a “story about the direction things could be heading and your thoughts on the future of student media at LSU.”

I had four reactions in rather rapid succession:

  1. Why do I have to deal with this already?
  2. What took so long?
  3. For more than 20 years, I have said it’s an important experience for journalists to be the the subjects of journalism. I can’t complain (much) when it happens to me.
  4. It must be time to widen the conversations we’ve been having internally for more than two months.

Elizabeth’s story generated an immediate and strong reaction among alumni and staff of the Daily Reveille, because the focus of her story was our consideration of cutting back the frequency of print publication.

If you want to read Elizabeth’s story first, I hope you’ll come back and read my explanation of what’s going on and how LSU Student Media alumni can participate. But I’ll post the link again at the end if you’d rather hear from me first.

My student media consulting

I’ll start with some background: I have been advocating for years that professional journalists and news organizations need to move more swiftly to embrace and figure out their digital future. Because I harp a lot about linking, I thought about hyperlinking “advocating for years” to an earlier post. But that would just have to be my home page. More than anything else, this blog has been about the skills, tools, ethics, business and leadership of digital journalism. (more…)

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