Letter from the Editor: Journalism in transition
Published: Monday, August 25, 2008
Updated: Saturday, August 23, 2008 21:08
I never thought Nelson, the cutoffs-and-vest-wearing bully from The Simpsons, would point his finger in my direction, delivering his famous guffaw. But there he was, in all his celluloid glory, mocking my very future.
"Ha ha, your medium is dying!" he shouted at a print journalist from The Washington Post.
Compound that 10-second clip with the layoffs and voluntary buyouts at such media conglomerates as Media General — the Tampa Tribune's parent company — and McClatchy, Gannett and Cox newspapers, and it would appear that the chortling cartoon fourth grader was right.
But he's wrong.
Print journalism isn't dying — it's evolving. I know you're probably thinking, "So says the delusional print journalist," but I believe it to be true. That's why I'm doing everything I can to place the Oracle at the forefront of that change. It will not be an easy transition; I'm sure we'll have more than a few bumps along the way, but I'm confident that we can transform the Oracle into a new kind of news source.
One of the biggest changes involves our gradual transition to a continuous news cycle. That means that we'll no longer be just a daily newspaper. We're going to supply up-to-the-second information on University news, because let's face it: We were raised in an age where information has always been at our fingertips. We can hardly remember a world without Google searches and putting off till tomorrow what you can find out today is no longer an option.
This is part of the reason why the absence of a Friday paper won't be a problem. For a variety of reasons, including lower ad sales and the reduced readership of the Friday issue since fewer students are on campus, we have decided to print the Oracle four times a week instead of five.
Should something happen on campus — whether it's Friday, Saturday or Sunday — expect the full scoop at usforacle.com. Just because we're not printing that day doesn't mean we're not working. We're just publishing it online instead of in the newspaper, with continuous updates as we receive more information and links embedded right into the stories, so everything you need is only a mouse click — or less — away.
Additionally, the Web site will feature even more videos than the past school year, including a weekly Web cast that will act as a supplement to the print edition of the Oracle. It will offer the sort of visuals we can't quite reproduce in the newspaper, no matter how many flowery words we use — the hoarse, booming voice of USF football coach Jim Leavitt as he discusses what that night's win meant for the team or the jumping, jiving and wailing of students swing dancing at the Grotto.
And then, sometimes a story isn't a story. It's just a bunch of bulky, complex information that needs to be disseminated quickly and concisely. We recognize that, and as a result you can expect to find more ‘explainers' and other alternative story formats that tackle tricky issues — like USF's recent budget woes — and break them down into easy-to-understand chunks of information. No nonsense, no unnecessary words — just the facts.
This is just the beginning of our evolution. Be on the lookout for an Oracle Facebook application and a mobile version of our Web site (so you can access the Web from that sleek new iPhone, Blackberry or other smart phone), among other things. What won't be changing, however, is our commitment to revealing the truth about what's going on at your University.
Expect the truth, and expect it here first. If something seems amiss, call us on it in a letter to the editor. If you know of something going on in the University community that we haven't covered, e-mail us at email@example.com.
As the Oracle endeavors to represent the future of multimedia journalism, we're strengthening our commitment to you guys — our audience.
That, and we refuse let that little punk Nelson have the last laugh.
Candace Braun is a senior majoring in mass communications and business.