This is not an exit

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: A few words on the ‘death’ of The Oregon Daily Emerald

In Journalism on May 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm

The Oregon Daily Emerald is no more.

Take that claim at face value, and it’s technically true. Starting next year, the University of Oregon’s 92-year-old independent student newspaper will cease to publish Monday through Friday. But the outlet itself isn’t dead, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, if anything, it turns into the “24/7 digital news ticker,” as one of my journalism professors put it yesterday.

The newly established Emerald Media Group is entering the realm of digital news in order to maintain the Daily Emerald’s relevance as a journalistic institution. At least that’s what I garnered from the announcement.

As I’m sure the higher-ups in Suite 300 of the Erb Memorial Union anticipated, there were plenty of cries of “WTF?,” “Srsly?,” and other such incredulity from every corner of the web when that video went live. I wasn’t so surprised. Because, as Publisher Ryan Frank explains, the move wasn’t made as a reaction to the doom and gloom facing newspapers across the country or troubles at the paper itself. It’s an attempt to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the distribution of news.

Doom and gloom.

It’s funny: those three words get tossed around in newsrooms quite often. It’s usually when reporters and editors talk about political and economic forecasts. But the phrase is increasingly associated with the current state of journalism. Ask anyone who isn’t a fervent supporter, admirer or practitioner of the discipline about the prospects of landing a job as a reporter after college and you hear the same skeptic remarks:

“Newspapers are dying.”

“How do you compete with Twitter and Facebook?”

“Nobody trusts journalists anymore.”

These are considerations we make every day at the School of Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon. And guess what? Nobody quite knows the answer. That’s because there isn’t one.┬áThe landscape of journalism is changing and the Emerald Media Group just decided to pick up a shovel instead of waiting for other media organizations shape the way we consume news.

It’s not that people don’t value good journalism. It’s just that news is breaking faster than ever before and the people who know how to collect it are changing the way it’s distributed. I’ve always enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee and a copy of the paper in the morning. But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the most practical way to consume news these days, at least not if you want to follow a story as it develops.

Much like OR Magazine is an experiment in journalistic production for modern technology, The Emerald is taking a well-known product and tweaking it to fit the way its readers consume news. Good journalism is fueled by three words: for the reader.

And it looks like that’s what’s being considered on the third floor of the EMU. That said, I’ll leave you with my favorite Twitter reaction regarding The Oregon Daily Emerald’s announcement:

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  1. Sometimes, I evaluate news sources.

    “What conversations are you starting?”

    The individual consumes the news,

    a group of individuals engages the news.

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