Newspapers may change, but their value is undiminished

Erin Keck Inks

I was saddened, but not surprised, to learn from your web staff’s recent column that students have much less involvement in the management and design of the newspaper’s website than they should. To me, this is the key issue for The Daily Texan’s future — any discussion of cutting print runs (and the corresponding reduction in ad rates) must include a plan for improving the paper’s web tools and student staff’s engagement in online publishing. To settle for anything less is a great disservice to student journalists and the UT community that looks to the Texan for news it can’t get anywhere else.

For better or worse, Texas Student Media has mostly been a reactive organization focused on its bottom line. I’d urge the board to consider that this problem is about more than the budget — it’s about providing the support the Texan needs to extend its status as one of the best college newspapers into its online presence. I’d love to see the paper continue its strong tradition of print, but if cutting back is truly the answer after exploring alternative funding options, then a more robust website will help ease the transition. Pulling back on print now and figuring out a web solution “when we can” is not an acceptable solution for the students working there now.

By the way: The fact that newspapers are changing (notice I didn’t say “dead”) doesn’t diminish the value of working for one. The Texan will always have a captive audience at UT, and the skills that students learn in writing, editing and designing for a print publication are still relevant in a wide array of professions. Just look at how many alumni who started out in journalism went on to be successful in other fields.

Erin Keck Inks, former Daily Texan managing editor