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Keeping the Record in print

Hello, I’m Daniel Bornstein, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, New York who is new to this blog.  There’s been a lot of discussion here about the Record going fully online, and I’d like to weigh in.

I think the loss of the print edition would mean a crushing blow to a vital part of campus culture. With the newspaper being the only student organization that is independently financed at many colleges, the paper is symbolic of the student voice. And in this dire time for newspapers–as metro dailies fall deeper into a hole–I’ve been hearing that local weekly papers are the ones filling the void. To me, that suggests a greater role for papers like the Record.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes an excellent post on his blog explaining how the loss of the print newspaper would mean the loss of a community watchdog. What Kristof writes is also applicable to college newspapers, whose editorial boards expect accountability from the school administration.

Check it out: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/the-pain-in-the-papers-and-the-search-for-a-business-model/

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#1 Comment By JeffZ On May 15, 2009 @ 9:35 am

Welcome to Ephblog! And you raise good pionts. I am really on the fence on this one, keep going back and forth. ON the one hand, from an environmental and cost perspective, limiting printing of papers makes a lot of sense. But on the other, I do think a lot of people read papers when they are handy / lying around who would not otherwise bother to go online to read them. Also, they can serve as a campus conversation piece of sort. overall, I think reducing the print volume, but not eliminating it, makes the most sense. And I echo those who have called for the Record to revamp their online site and archives — hopefully they will take Ken up on his offer! Another thing I’d like to see is the Record to begin including a local / regional news section. As you note, more and more newspapers are going to become marginalized, so it would be a nice opportunity for college students / aspiring journalists to step into the void by expanding their coverage a little bit beyond campus to the surrounding areas. Also a great way for the college and local communities to engage with one another.

#2 Comment By Larry George On May 15, 2009 @ 10:26 am

Welcome to Ephblog. I hope you’ll kep posting.

I like Jeff’s idea of having a local section, for the reasons he sets forth.

#3 Comment By rory On May 15, 2009 @ 10:53 am

Kristof’s reasoning, he even seems to admit, is flawed in that his defense of newspapers is “investigative journalism” yet very little of that happens, and only from big papers.

Besides, it isn’t little websites that are attempting to replace newspapers…it’s big ones. fivethirtyeight and tpm, for example, are legitimately involved in in-deth analysis and investigations.

Living in Philadelphia–where the Inquirer is horribly mismanaged, bankrupt, and grossly incompetent (they signed John Yoo as a columnist in a liberal city/area! WTF ARE THEY THINKING?!?)–has made this into a real issue. The Inky isn’t really much of a paper anymore and its defenders rest their defense on the investigative journalism side (to be fair, that’s about the only thing it does have on its side…local investigative scoops every once in a while). It doesn’t seem like that is only feasible under the large newspaper model, just that we haven’t yet figured out how to do it under a different model. Once we do, what happens next? then the newspaper truly will be obsolete.

heck, the Philly Metro–a free daily–recently stopped using AP reporting and is expanding its local reporting in response to the Inquirer’s troubles. the newspaper is a somewhat nostalgic entity…it’s time to accept that role for the paper copy and figure out a new means of reporting.

For example, Kristof uses the 2000 bush vs. gore recount in the Miami Herald. True, that took a lot of leg work, but fivethirtyeight and other bloggers have done a superb job, i think, in following the Franken/Coleman fight…better, in many respects, than what the papers are doing.

I do like the local area idea. Especially williamstown issues…as long as they don’t take a college-oriented slant, i think that’d be great (and I wonder, constantly, why Penn’s paper doesn’t do a similar thing with West Philly. I know why, in all likelihood, but its a shame).

#4 Comment By rory On May 15, 2009 @ 10:54 am

also, a tangential question (and welcome): how’d you find ephblog? family members? interested in williams as a possible college destination? a teacher?

#5 Comment By Daniel Bornstein On May 15, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

@rory: Rory–I am interested in applying to Williams, and I came across this blog when I was researching the school.

#6 Comment By Larry George On May 15, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

[My apologies for hijacking this thread a bit to tell Daniel how to find out more about Williams. It isn’t on point to the thread topic, but my goal in talking with any high school student is always to tell him or her a bit about Williams. I’ll set this up as a separate thread if it seems appropriate.]

Daniel, there’s a lot of information here on Ephblog, but be a critical reader.

There are a lot of great ways to learn about Williams. It’s hard to use the Record website, but try to be patient with it, as there’s a good bit to find there. One good, but probably underused, approach to Williams would be to type subjects that interest you into the search box on the main Williams web page — that’s a great portal to a lot of serendipitous encounters. From time to time, look at the Daily Messages (available only during term, I think) for a glimpse into what’s happening on campus (there are too many interesting lectures, concerts, and other events for any one person to hit even a fraction of them). I don’t know whether you are interested in athletics; even if you aren’t, look around the sports PR people’s site (written largely by students, and linked through the main Williams webpage) for some fascinating historical stories and “up close and personal” pieces on individual athletes. The very, very best way to get to know Williams is to visit. If you go during the term, you can stay with a student (contact the Purple Key Society to arrange that). And you can ask us questions (just put them up on the Speak Up function — the portal’s on the top left of the main EB page — if they aren’t major enough to merit a stand alone thread).

As the students sometimes call out to tour groups of prospective students and their parents: “Come to Williams!”

Do any other readers have other suggestions for how a high school student might learn more about Williams?

#7 Comment By PTC On May 15, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

Daniel- Congratulations, you now hold the record as the youngest poster ever on Ephlbog. Not only that, but your post is far more mature than most of what I have posted on this site. Good stuff!

As far as keeping the news in print… especially a school newspaper like the record… I am for it.

Best luck, and keep posting.

#8 Comment By Parent ’12 On May 15, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

Ways to learn about Williams-

On the Williams website check the “events” link. I believe you could look at what was happening on campus month-by-month.

Also, some of the departments have good websites, which include information about faculty & what alumni are doing. To get to dept. websites, go the the “academic” link on the Williams website.

If you want to get a glimpse of what’s on students’ minds during their down time, you could check wso.williams.edu. Related to the site, there’s also willipedia. At the bottom of the WSO page are links that might interest you.

Lastly, I would guess there are alumni near where you live who would be happy to talk with you.

#9 Comment By Mike On May 15, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

I’ve always felt that visiting schools is actually the worst way to learn about them. The big questions that differentiate schools — big vs. small, urban vs. not, climate, frats vs not — can all be figured out on the internet, in books, etc. One of my friends at Williams transferred after a year at Swarthmore which he originally went to because he had a great time during his visit. He ended up hating it. I fell in love with Williams, but didn’t like the vibe at Amherst. In reality, either place would’ve been great.

There is certainly information on the margin that can be learned by a visit that can help a pre-frosh make a decision, but that’s just color that can help you fine-tune your choices after you’ve decided a small, liberal arts, cold weather college with a great community is where you want. I think too many people make their decisions based on the anecdotal evidence you pick up during a visit (ie your tour guide).

In years past, we’ve had a bunch of conversations on ephblog about Williams v. Yale. As has been said, that should be an easy decision if you’ve thought about what you want out of your college experience.