The Gazette says goodbye to print, moves online-only

After 48 years, the Gazette at Memorial University has printed its last paper and has become an online-only publication, saving $50,000 a year in printing and distribution costs.

The paper, produced by MUN’s marketing department, printed 8,000 copies every three weeks for the last several years. It was distributed across all of MUN’s campuses and to dozens of coffee shops, grocery stores and other businesses in the St. John’s metro area.

Now MUN will only publish its “official newspaper” on a newly-developed website.

Mandy Cook, news editor at the Gazette, said the decision was “kind of a no-brainer.”

“Telling stories on paper every three weeks wasn’t working for us. We wanted to be able to respond to the news cycle and respond to the stories that were breaking here at the university,” said Cook.

Until now the Gazette has not had its own website. Cook says that moving online will give the paper much more flexibility in telling stories.

“Before it was just text and a photo. Now we want to include video and audio wherever we can, photo essays,” she said.

 

Meaghan Whelan and Mandy Cook, staff members at the Gazette.
Meaghan Whelan and Mandy Cook, staff members at the Gazette.

 

Online-only saves $50,000 a year

Moving online also comes with cost benefits: the change will save MUN more than $50,000 per year.

Printing the paper cost roughly $28,900 annually, and distribution cost more than $30,700 a year, which included nearly $24,000 to mail copies to other schools across Canada, according to documents obtained by the Muse.

The Gazette was also distributed to 50 off-campus locations in St. John’s and Mount Pearl.

Readership survey done in 2013

Gazette staff conducted a survey in 2013 in which many readers said they thought the print version was outdated and slow, according to Meaghan Whelan, director of digital communications and content management.

“They were questioning why a progressive university would have a print newspaper,” said Whelan.

A shot of the Gazette's very first edition in 1968 (note the reference to the Muse).
A shot of the Gazette’s very first edition in 1968 (note the reference to the Muse).

She said most other university papers have already made the switch to online.

“It’s going really well for them, it increased their readership and helped them tell stories in new ways,” she said.

Whelan said that while the paper may lose some readers by going online-only, she thinks it’ll benefit readership in the long run.

“When you look at coffee shops nowadays most people are invested in their phones and tablets. So we feel that if we put more effort into social media and sharing and engaging that way, it will still appear in people’s lives and newsfeeds as opposed to a print paper that they pick up,” she said.

“We just feel that this is the way that technology is going, this is the way people consume their news, so it just made sense for us.”

Cook and Whelan say they hope moving online will increase the number of stories they can tell and make room for more varied voices in the paper.

Whelan says the Gazette’s new website was designed by current staff in the Marketing and Communications department, thus did not incur any initial costs.