Our Opinion: We’re mixing it up online and off

Just last week, a United States Senator tossed a snowball on the Senate floor to “disprove” the theory of global warming. Given the fact that we’re putting out this edition of The Chart on a snow day when campus, except for us, is virtually empty, the snowball seems pretty funny.

Funny, a little bit inappropriate, and maybe a little bit wrong, since what we’re talking about isn’t so much global warming as global climate change.

A lot of people claim that the newspaper is dying, but, like the label “global warming,” that’s not quite accurate. What’s happening is the newspaper industry is changing, dramatically, and in ways which aren’t always clear, but it’s not true that newspapers are dying.

In fact, a recent article by Jim Conaghan of the American Newspaper Association reports that newspaper reading among millennials is actually up. Maybe it’s that hipster thing – it’s cool to be retro, and what’s more retro than print these days? But the report says “some 57 percent of those ages 18-34 read newspapers, in print or online, during the course of an average week.”

The key phrase there is “in print or online.”

Here at Southern, print has a proud tradition in The Chart, a student-operated and produced print paper which appears 12 times a semester. The Chart staff learns much of what they’ll need when they graduate and get jobs in the field, because most of the community newspapers in our region still need people who can create a print product.

But the students also need those online skills, so The Chart has a website, www.thechartonline.com.

When the Internet first began impacting the news business, many papers just stuck their print content online, either as PDFs of the page itself, or as stories and photos. The current thinking pushes for an attitude of “online first, print second.”

That means a weekly paper like The Chart should be posting new content online as the news happens – gamers popping up on your screen shortly after – or even during – the game, and breaking news scrolling across your iPad screen as it happens.

Because we’re student-run, that doesn’t always happen. The Chart is perennially short staffed by students who have classes, internships, jobs and lives. But it’s a change we’re working toward.

You may have noticed above that The Chart publishes a print edition 12 times a semester, but there are 15 weeks each semester. In the past, that has meant no news for those three weeks, usually around the time of Thanksgiving break or spring break. No point in publishing papers on weeks when no one will be around to read them, after all.

But with the website, content can be updated whether campus is closed or not, and readers around the world can check in to see what’s up.

This year, The Chart is trying to make sure the website is updated throughout the next three weeks, even though the next print edition won’t hit the stands until April, so we encourage you to check in from wherever your spring break takes you.

In fact, send us photos of your spring break – if you have a MOSO lion somewhere in that photo, we’ll try to post it online or on Facebook. Be sure to give us your name, year and major, and where in the world you are.