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By Matthew Le Blanc & Ashley Durk
The Satellite Newspaper is shedding some weight by decreasing the number of physical papers that will be printed next year.
With electronic media becoming more popular, The Mohawk Students’ Association is looking at new ways of distributing the student-run paper.
“Times are changing and less people, less students in the hallway are actually picking up the physical format of the paper,’ said Satellite Marketing Manager Steve Kosh. “So we’re going to retool, redesign it and put it in more of a digital format and it also falls in line with the sustainability initiatives of the MSA as well by reducing paper that we use as a business.”
Kosh also says that the funding is there to potentially develop a smartphone application so students can access Satellite content through their mobile devices.
MSA President Kat Cullen says the original plan for The Satellite was to move it completely online.
“We’re printing 2,000 papers and getting back 1,600 or some odd like that,” said Cullen. “It just seemed like we were being pretty wasteful and we wanted to make sure we were delivering news to students in the most sustainable way we could and most forward-thinking way we could.”
Although news delivery is moving to online formats, Mohawk Journalism Coordinator Kurt Muller would still like the program to have an actual physical paper.
“I can understand where they are coming from,” said Muller. “We’re actually talking now about possibly bringing back the newspaper in a limited run so that we have fewer copies because it’s true, people weren’t reading the newspaper. We have to do a better job of getting the publicity out there that this is our student newspaper and people should read it.”
The Satellite isn’t the first newspaper to pioneer the trend. The Hamilton Spectator has decreased the number of free copies it delivers to institutions such as Mohawk. The 2010 Newspaper Audience Databank results indicate that almost 8 in 10 Canadians read a newspaper every week and nearly half of one every day. It also revealed that in 2010 that The Spectator’s print readership increased by 2,900 readers, while online readership has risen by 18,200 readers, which is a 26.7 per cent increase.
“Research and experience points to the reality that younger college/university students prefer to receive their news and information electronically and they are used to, and demand, access when and where they want,” said The Hamilton Spectator’s Vice President of Circulation and Marketing, Gary Myers. “By providing access to our paper electronically, we can get it into the hands of more students, more often, and do so in a more timely fashion.”
Cullen says communication between the MSA and the college was an issue when first developing the format.
“It took a long time to get the school involved because it is the MSA’s paper at this point and yes, it is staffed by students who the MSA hires and pays their salaries,” said Cullen. “Right now the journalism program just assumes that the MSA is going to print the paper and the MSA just assumes the journalism program is going to help and provide the students to write for the paper. So yes, it absolutely was a blunder on both ends, but I think that moving forward it will open up a relationship that really allows for a lot more communication between the journalism program and the students’ association when it comes to running the paper.”
Despite the popularity of online news, Mohawk Journalism Professor Darryl Hartwick says even though the main strengths of online content is mobility and immediacy, he thinks there will always be a place for a printed version.
“When I pick up a paper, there’s a role for the print version of a newspaper and that is there is some context, there’s some depth,” said Hartwick. “There are some things in this paper that I can’t get anywhere else. Obviously we can link and all the great things the Internet does but still people like to hold something in their hands and find something in a magazine or paper. Maybe it’s not in the form that it’s in now, but there still is a role for print. Print is not going to go away.”
Although change is just around the corner, the MSA and the college are still unsure as to who will be footing the bill for print costs. Currently they are both undecided about the specifics that surround the printed version, including the number of copies and the company that will print the physical paper.