Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Editorial: Moving online despite hard times for journalism

< before have fears about the American newspaper industry been more pronounced than on December 8, 2008, when the Tribune Company, the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher, filed for Bankruptcy. Owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and other prominent American newspapers, the Tribune Company was faced with a piling debt load of over $13 billion.

This is the landscape in which The Carletonian exists. As a student newspaper, The Carletonian does not face some of the same financial restraints as professional newspapers (our staff is comprised entirely of volunteers who give their valuable time in the name of journalism), but The Carletonian still faces some of the same questions and concerns faced by professional newspapers, especially the pressure to move content online. With this in mind, The Carletonian proudly announces the Grand Opening of its website – The website will have much of the same content as the print version, but will also have expanded blogs and columns. At the same time, the print version will offer more news in general, although this balance will still be worked out over the coming year.

The idea for The Carletonian’s website originated roughly a year and a half ago, and was at first approached with hesitation. The majority of The Carletonian’s funds come through the subscriptions of its readers, and the fear was that if The Carletonian opened up the website for everyone to see, readers would not subscribe. This is the dilemma that so many newspapers have struggled with over the past decade as online newspapers have become the norm; subscriptions have gone down steadily, and online advertising has been unable to make up for that loss. This was the risk that The Carletonian has taken in deciding to open up the website. It was not an easy decision, but one The Carletonian staff made in the name of providing our community with quality information.

Despite the risks and fears that The Carletonian, too, will be adversely affected by taking its information online, the end benefit is too great to remain a solely paper-based publication. The Carleton community has become global, from study-abroad trips across the oceans to alumni spread throughout the world, and with an open and free website news important to the Carleton community is accessible by all. This website is designed to serve you, our readers.

Ultimately, this also means that the paper is going to rely more significantly than before on your subscription in the fall. Because The Carletonian represents more than just the news and happening of campus; it represents the hard work, in-depth reporting, thought-provoking opinions, photos, lay-out, and other contributions by your sons, daughters, nieces and nephews. And although you can now access that hard work online every week, the fact remains that the print version always represents something more. It represents the work of students like the staff of The Carletonian that has worked on making this publication as effective and in-depth as possible since 1877.

Next fall, when you receive a letter from next year’s Editor-in-Chief asking for you to subscribe, we hope that you will still do so, because that payment will be an investment in your faith in student journalism, even as newspapers become owned by fewer and fewer corporations, and more and more publishers declare bankruptcy.

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