The Daily Texan is not a newspaper

Bobby Blanchard

Editor’s note: Per the TSM election code Section 7.45B, Daily Texan editor-in-chief candidates have the opportunity to publish two columns during their campaigns. The candidates were asked to write one column on the topic specified below and another on a topic of their choice. The columns had to be between 580-620 words. The candidates were responsible for writing their own headlines. For their first columns below, the candidates were asked to answer the following questions: The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media confront financial challenges due in part to major, uncharted changes in the publishing industry with the growth of the web. How should The Daily Texan address the changing habits of its readers? How will you, as editor-in-chief, ensure it remains a relevant platform for student voices?  

I will be honest — that feels strange to say. But it is true. Newspapers do not exist anymore in the traditional sense. Instead, The Daily Texan is a media organization that publishes on multiple platforms. We publish in print and we publish online. We write articles and we shoot video. We record podcasts and we review movies. We investigate corruption and we blog about Ryan Gosling. 

If we are to stay relevant to students and if we are to continue expressing the voices of the entire student body, then we must treat our digital and print enterprises with equal dedication. We must remember that we are living in the year 2013, a time when the best media organizations have newspapers and websites that tango together and not alone.

It would be foolish to treat our website as a supplement to the print product. We must treat the two as equals. At the same time, it would be equally foolish to reduce our respect and regard for the print product. The paper represents our image, our credibility and our history. 

If we are to remain relevant to students then we have to keep our print product a priority. Some would argue that our print production is a diseased appendage that we need to sever off before it destroys the rest of our enterprise. But reductions in print may be detrimental to our image, credibility and advertising revenue. The print product is crucial to our future.

At the same time, we must also adapt to new technologies. These are tools students use and tools older generations are rapidly picking up as well. We cannot treat the website as a simple dumping site for the content we run in print. Reporters need to tweet first and then write. Articles need to have multiple components and mediums of storytelling. Written words are not enough by themselves.

We cannot dawdle our thumbs and hope readers will come flocking to us. We have to bring The Daily Texan to students. This means increasing our online presence, which translates to invading Twitter feeds. This means becoming more digital-savvy and reconsidering how we write our website’s headlines in order to take full advantage of search engine optimization (SEO). This means doing more with the multimedia tools that are available to us. This means more collaboration with our sisters and brothers in Texas Student Media.

We also have to remember that The Daily Texan is for students. We must stay as student-focused and student-oriented as possible. This is something we cannot achieve alone. With a staff that is composed of less than 200 people, The Daily Texan is trying the impossible task of representing and covering a student body of more than 50,000. The Daily Texan and its editor must focus on outreach and reaching more student groups and student leaders. We cannot remain in our basement-office forever. Not only is the lack of sunlight detrimental to our health, but a lack of correspondence to students outside The Daily Texan is harmful to our mission to maintain a medium for student voices.

The Daily Texan is a 113-year-old media organization that reports on student issues and concerns at this University unlike any other enterprise. We are a media organization that takes students seriously. This is student news and student opinion produced by students for students.

But The Daily Texan is not a newspaper. We are something much better. And if we are going to remain relevant to the student body, then we will have to remember this going forward.

Blanchard is a journalism sophomore from Pearland, Texas.