The Chronicle will print twice per week during the upcoming year.
For the past two years, The Chronicle produced three print publications per week. This reduction to two publications per week represents a shift toward the newspaper’s digital-first model as it enters its 114th volume. Student staff and the board of directors discussed this change throughout the past year.
The board voted in favor of cutting a day of print in June. Beginning in August, The Chronicle will print on Monday and Wednesday each week, and content will still be published online daily.
“I think our staff and board of directors have done an excellent job of navigating our move to primarily-digital—always with some print—and this is the natural next step,” said Chrissy Beck, general manager of The Chronicle.
Two years ago, The Chronicle reduced print production from four days per week to three days per week. Three years before that, print production was reduced from five days to four days per week. Beck explained that the move to digital has been in the works for a decade.
“Since 2008, we have continually evaluated our print and digital publication schedules based on readership, staff bandwidth and revenue,” Beck said. “In short, our move to digital has been slow and measured and based on our overall strategic plan that we crafted with the help of our board of directors. “
The Duke Student Publishing Company board of directors is responsible for setting broad policies of the newspaper. The Chronicle has operated under the DSPC since 1993, when the newspaper became financially and editorially independent from the University.
Board Chair Scott McCartney, Trinity '82 and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, explained that the Board spoke to current senior editors at The Chronicle, recent past editors and advertisers about the change. He said that their input was critical to the Board’s decision.
“What we saw was a declining interest in the print newspapers—both from advertisers and readers—and growing interest in the digital product—dukechronicle.com,” McCartney said. “The mission of The Chronicle hasn’t changed. What’s changing is how we deliver it.”
Lindsey Rupp, Trinity '12 and reporter at Bloomberg News, also noted that students, staff and Durham residents are not picking up print newspapers as they once were, even when she was editor-in-chief in 2010 to 2011.
Rupp, board member and co-chair of the strategic planning committee, added that The Chronicle has come a long way since her time as editor, but she thinks that the newspaper still has a long way to go.
“I think the goal is ultimately to be a publication that exists first online, where we can serve our readers fastest and with exactly what they’re looking for,” Rupp said.
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Several senior editors expressed the importance of moving toward a digital-first model.
“People today want to read the stories the second they happen, especially in sports. The story becomes obsolete by the time morning rolls around the night after a game,” Sports Editor Michael Model, a junior, said. “Switching to two days of print will allow us to grow faster and evolve digitally.”
Model added that the sports department is experimenting with videos, podcasts and other mediums in order to provide an enhanced experience for consumers.
Managing Editor Ben Leonard, a junior, noted that organizations need to adapt to the modern age and the modern consumer. However, he said, the print product will remain the same great content that readers have come to know and love.
“In today’s digital landscape, being the go-to source means meeting readers where they are and breaking news there—online. We’re excited about using this opportunity to build our digital presence, experiment with new initiatives and products and connect more directly with our audience,” Editor-in-Chief Bre Bradham, a junior, said.
New initiatives and products include an exclusive program guided by the Poynter Institute called Table Stakes. Beck explained that The Chronicle was chosen to be one of the first college newspapers in the country to participate in the program. She added that on the revenue side, The Chronicle is offering a variety of digital and social marketing options, in addition to print.
“We also added advertising agency services a little over a year ago–primarily video and content,” Beck said. “We continue to surpass our peers in digital sales and new product growth.”
Bradham said that the goal is to connect with today’s readers.
“We encourage readers to join us online for up-to-date campus news and pick us up in print for engaging content presented in creative ways,” she said.