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University of Denver brings back print version of its student newspaper after four years

DU The Clarion
Posted at 10:13 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 12:13:36-04

DENVER — The classics always find their way back. After four years, the University of Denver has brought back the print version of its student newspaper.

In 1984, the height of newspaper sales in the U.S., daily print circulation was 63.3 million, according to Pew Research. In 2022, the total U.S. daily newspaper circulation of both print and digital combined was 20.9 million, with print being a small fraction of that number.

The headline here is: Print is Not What it Was. But you might want to hold off on writing that obituary for print newspapers.

After four years of publishing online only, the University of Denver's (DU) student newspaper, The Clarion, has resurrected its print edition just in time for this election year.

"When you have the youth vote that is always hard to get out, it's great to have media you can trust, media that speaks to your perspective. And since we're run by students, we would hope we speak to students," said Clarion Editor-in-Chief Aubrey Cox.

The pre-election editions are heavy on candidate profiles and explanatory pieces on the voting process — basic stuff to get these young readers involved.

"I think a print edition is an incredibly helpful way to get news right in front of people," said Cox.

"You have to be more intentional with print. You have to be more intentional with messaging and your word count. I think with digital, you can be a little bit messy. You don't have to be as aware of what you're putting out there. But with print, we know that we only have a limited amount of space and we want to use that to the best of our ability," said Clarion Executive Editor Ambriel Speagle.

The Clarion's 12-person staff still publishes a weekly online edition but has added a print edition of 1,000 copies, twice a quarter.

"They've been received really well. Actually, it's been amazing. There are certain hot spots on campus where all the editions are gone. So we know people are reading them," said Cox.

That's right: The print edition of the Clarion is selling out (or whatever the equivalent of selling out is when a paper is free).

"I think there is a recognized value in people just wanting to get off their phones. Our nature is to click, is to scroll, is to get that dopamine, that quick news update. I think print works from a different perspective that I believe is more valuable, where you can really sit down and engage with a news brand as a community," said Cox.

"Strangely enough, our generation likes holding things and not having to follow a link to a story. And if anything, I think our readership has improved a whole lot since we've started this," said Speagle.

What's happening with the Clarion seems similar to what's happening in music sales. The most popular and highest-grossing format for music now is vinyl records. According to Billboard, vinyl sales have increased 17 years in a row.

DU's Clarion is celebrating its 125th year of publishing with ink and paper, just like it did in 1899.

"I think our generation has a desire to kind of rewind time and slow things down. Everything's so saturated now that it's nice to have something that's just limited and you can look at it and slow down and take time to consume it," said Speagle.

It feels like the future's in good hands with this generation, and there just might be jobs in print journalism for Cox and Speagle when they graduate this spring.