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I have recommended digital-first approaches recently to faculty and student media leaders at my alma mater, Texas Christian University, and the University of Oregon.

I am delighted that Emerald Media in Oregon has announced that it will be digital-first next year, stopping Monday-Friday daily newspaper publication in favor of a timely digital news approach and two weekly print magazines. The University of Georgia’s Red and Black shifted to digital first with its move to weekly print production last fall (I played no role there).

TCU will continue publishing the Daily Skiff (I am a former Skiff editor, spring semesters of 1975 and ’76) four days a week, but will produce all content first and primarily for digital platforms. “We are moving from some of the news being produced and distributed first on a digital platform to all of the news being produced digitally with the intent of distributing it first in real-time via a digital platform,” Schieffer School of Journalism Director John Lumpkin told me in an email.

Even where the changes involve cutting the frequency of print production, we should not regard these moves as cutbacks but as moving forward. “This step is critical to expanding news coverage for our audience, in addition to preparing students for the changes in our profession,” John said.

The Schieffer School set the stage for this move by launching a news website, tcu360, that operated largely independently of the Skiff and TCU News Now, the student TV operation. “We made the philosophical decision to go ‘digital first’ in the spring of 2011 by creating tcu360,” John said.

This is the direction student media need to go. Journalism students must prepare to work and compete in the digital news marketplace and journalism schools and student media must do a better job of preparing them. (more…)

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