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Ohio State contract to reduce The Lantern print editions

June 26, 2014

young.1693@osu.edu

There will be some changes to the look and distribution of Ohio State’s student newspaper The Lantern this fall.

OSU signed a one-year contract this week with Media Network of Central Ohio, a subsidiary of Gannett Company Inc. that has managed The Lantern’s advertising and business operations since 2012.

As part of the terms of that new contract, which goes into effect Tuesday, The Lantern will be reducing its print frequency to two days per week, typically Mondays and Thursdays, with an additional Friday issue when there’s a football game scheduled at Ohio Stadium that weekend.

The Lantern, however,will continue to publish online content Monday through Friday each week of classes.

The Columbus Dispatch’s printing presses in Columbus will print The Lantern starting this fall as part of a deal between Gannett and The Dispatch, meaning the paper itself will shrink to 21-inches from 23-inches.

Nine-thousand copies will be distributed to about 300 on- and off-campus locations on the days The Lantern is printed, down from the 14,000 copies available of each print edition under the previous contract.

OSU will receive a total payment of $245,070 from MNCO as part of the contract, while MNCO will retain all advertising sales revenue.

Rick Szabrak, general manager for The Lantern business operations and MNCO territory sales director, said a decrease in advertising revenue contributed to the reduced number of print editions.

“It contributes to it for the immediacy of it,” he said, “but long-term, this is what all parties felt” was the right move. He also noted national advertising has fallen across the country.

Szabrak would not provide details about ad sales this past year or whether local ad sales were up or down, saying that Gannett doesn’t discuss detailed revenue performance of individual newspapers. He did comment more generally, though.

“Although some national advertisers may have adjusted their marketing efforts away from college newspapers, we are talking to more local businesses that see the value in reaching Ohio State students through The Lantern,” he said in an email.

Szabrak said the decision to decrease print copies was influenced by looking at the pickup rates.

“We thought we could be a little more strategic with where we (place) copies,” he said.

This is not the first time The Lantern’s print frequency has been reduced. Most recently, in 2009, the paper went from being printed Monday through Friday to being printed Monday through Thursday with occasional Friday editions.

Other college and professional papers across the country have made cutbacks to their print schedules as well. That includes the Daily Kent Stater, Kent State University’s student newspaper, which will print three times per week this coming year after previously printing five days each week.

The editorial side of The Lantern Media Group, which consists of The Lantern and BuckeyeTV, employs 22 students. The business side typically employs about 10 students, though it fluctuates. None of those positions are set to be cut as a result of the new contract, Szabrak said.

School of Communication director Daniel McDonald said the changes make for a good learning experience for the students involved with the paper, giving them the chance to focus on online and multimedia work.

“The trick is we’re investing more and more into sort of alternative formats, which is really the way the industry is kind of going,” McDonald said. “I wish things were the way they were five to 10 years ago, but that’s not going to happen.

“For the students, they’re going to have a lot more opportunities to interact with different (formats) … It’s going to make them more flexible.”

McDonald also noted that The Lantern’s newsroom in the Journalism Building is being renovated this summer to include a space for BuckeyeTV, which used to be based in the Drake Performance and Event Center.

Szabrak said it’s important to push online content, as there’s been a growth in web traffic over the last two years. During that time frame, he said he’s also noticed The Lantern breaking more stories online and posting more videos.

“On the business side, we have to make sure we align our advertisers with the readers and more of the readers are moving digital,” he said. “By evolving into more of a digital-first product, it’s going to be better for our students … It’s giving them the experience that is necessary in that industry.”


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Comments (7)

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  1. Michael Citro says:

    As a former Lantern sports editor, I can only say…
    :(

  2. Concerned says:

    June of 2012, The Lantern signed a 3-year contract with MNCO. The goal of that was to “assure two things: the viability of The Lantern as a university newspaper and our focus on the academic programming to support the journalism major.”

    Two years into that three-year contract, it looks like at least one of these assurances are in question.

    What happened to the third year of the existing contract? Is the $245k part of a contract buy-out? In that initial contract Joseph Steinmetz said that there was no trial period. He said, “it’s our hope that it will work out and we’ll renew for many years to come, but … let it run and see what happens three years from now.”

    Not even three years later. They seem to be pumping the brakes.

    Is there a concern amongst editors/advisers that a relationship with The Dispatch, seen as a competitor to The Lantern, could be troublesome down the road?

    I’m concerned about the future of The Lantern. I have seen it grown from an average college daily, to an award-winning, reliable news source. I fear this is a turn in the wrong direction.

  3. Mike Harny says:

    Students should be working online primarily. Sounds like good news.

  4. Bob Sheppard says:

    Working on The Lantern many, many nights in the mid 60′s I was proud to say that we were publishing 5 days a week. So sad that has to change. :-(

  5. Zane says:

    It’s just the changing times. There is less and less need of a physical paper and this makes sense as far as making the publishing of the paper more cost effective. I know where I work, a large bundle of papers is (was?) brought in the morning. Maybe a few people read a paper but a large majority of them get thrown in the recycle bin (hopefully) unread in a couple days. I haven’t read a physical Lantern in over a year or two.

  6. OSU Student says:

    Yea, because everyone knows online journalism is just as good if not better than the real deal. If our Lantern journalists can learn anything from the great pillars of online journalism we should be seeing headlines like:

    “You won’t BELIEVE what new President Drake said to Brutus!!!”

    and

    “Scarlet and Gray Cheerleaders love when men do this one little trick!!!”

    This is a startling embarrassment for our university.

  7. Relieved says:

    This is a relief. To print 14K copies EVERY DAY just to boost the egos of Lantern staff is not only inefficient but incredibly, disgustingly wasteful. No student will suffer from this, beyond those that can’t list the #s printed on their resume. Working at a front desk my freshman year, I recall throwing away literally every single copy we were delivered (yes, I counted daily, because I was upset with the wastefulness of it) daily. Recycling is great, but it isn’t remotely efficient enough to justify what we were doing.
    Sorry, Lantern staff. Now you’ll have to count on #s of clicks to justify your greatness, which will hold you accountable to producing material that interests students. It doesn’t have to be “You won’t BELIEVE what new President Drake said to Brutus” to grab attention– don’t insult the intelligence of OSU students. I just recommend avoiding a boring piece about Pelotonia’s new starting location. Enjoy the challenge, good luck.

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