U student newspaper to eliminate one daily edition

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2009 - 7:09 AM

The Minnesota Daily joins other media in trying to cope with a decline in advertising revenue.

The Minnesota Daily is about to become a little less ... daily.

Starting this month, the independent student newspaper at the University of Minnesota will cease publication on Fridays and expand its coverage online.

Advertising had been declining steadily, and in September, "everything blew up," said Vadim Lavrusik, the paper's editor-in-chief and one of three co-publishers.

Without cuts, the paper's revenues were headed 30 to 35 percent below budget for the year, said co-publisher John Scholz. So the team announced changes. Among them: slashing bonuses, paying per story rather than per hour, combining the sports and news sections, publishing four days a week instead of five.

Cutting Fridays -- the least-read and least-advertised day -- will save about $10,000 a month in printing costs, Scholz said.

"This was our way of thinking for the future and the sustainability of the Daily as a news organization, moving it online," Lavrusik said.

Newspapers around the country have struggled with hefty publication costs and plummeting ad revenue.

Some student newspapers, especially those run separate from their schools, have been hit by the same trends. This fall, the Daily Californian at University of California at Berkeley and the Daily Orange at Syracuse University cut publication from five to four days.

"College media, just like commercial media, are funded by advertising, so as the economy tanks, they're affected by that," said Logan Aimone, president of the National Scholastic Press Association.

But college newspapers don't negotiate with unions or have to provide pensions and health benefits so they can adapt more easily by cutting wages, publication days and more, Aimone said.

The Minnesota Daily has a staff of more than 150 and circulation of about 20,000. Its online readership ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 unique hits daily, Lavrsik said.

The staff plans to expand the amount and the display of sports and entertainment content throughout the weekend and create a "portal" for student groups to chat and announce their events.

"Some people would say, you're not going to be providing as much to the university community," Scholz said, "when actually, we're going from a five-day content source to a seven-day content source."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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