Recap: College Newspaper Business and Web Conference at Yale
The Yale Daily News hosted the “Conference for Newspaper Business at Yale” Friday and Saturday, gathering the student leaders of the business sides of a bunch of college newspapers. Representatives from Yale, Brown, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Tufts, Duke, Georgetown, Boston College gathered, including myself representing CoPress and Penn.
Over the two days, we heard from speakers working in the media and marketing industries. But the most valuable part of the conference was the roundtable discussions and workshops discussing the common problems and solutions that college newspapers face. Far too little communication happens between different college newspapers, and that means that the practices and strategies that work well at one place aren’t passed on to other papers.
That’s why conferences that bring together people from different publications are so valuable, and that’s part of what CoPress is trying to do by connecting people from different schools to share their questions and solutions.
As it turns out, we all face a lot of similar problems.
Ideas and topics discussed at Yale
Chief among the topics of discussion was how to make more money and how to make more money online. In the sessions I went to we explored alternative sources of revenue, ways of improving local advertising and website projects.
Among the alternative sources of revenue, many schools explored raising funds from alumni donations and selling subscriptions to parents and alumni of students. This allows many of them to maintain an endowment which can provide steady funding even when the advertising market suffers. Several were exploring a store selling branded merchandise and prints of photos and the paper. Another popular feature is graduation announcements, where parents can buy something similar to a yearbook announcement in the final issue of the paper.
But of course, advertising is still the core source of funding for any newspaper. Roger Lee, a co-founder of PaperG, gave a presentation on how to engage local advertisers. One of the key points of his presentation was to bundle print and online ads together. Since print ads still command higher rates, this prevents online advertising from cannibalizing print revenue.
Online, papers are looking to expand in several ways. Many want to move beyond news and multimedia to providing more types of information to students. Among those ideas include:
- Creating guides to local restaurants and businesses
- Listings of campus events
- Professor ratings
- Selling prints and licenses of photos (with this though, it’s careful to avoid running afoul of NCAA rules for photos.)
What other ideas do you have to make your student publication more profitable and more successful? Or what do you want to know about how other student papers operate? Let us know in the comments!