I just tweeted a link to Dan Reimold's piece in Mediashift about a student's research into the future of student newspapers. It's well worth a read for anyone involved in The Orion, and worth a summary here.
The student, former University of Virginia Cavalier Editor-in-Chief Matthew Cameron, comes to three basic conclusions, according to Reimold:
• Student newspapers have to wake up to the the reality that the economics of publishing have already changed. "At this point, daily printing is not necessarily the best way to reach the student audience and certainly not the most cost-effective way on a lot of campuses," Cameron told Reimold.
• Student publications should be conducting market research to determine the right mix of digital and traditional media for their campuses.
• It's a good idea to have some professionals in student media organizations to provide continuity, expertise and institutional memory.
The historical sections of Cameron's paper, particularly the recent changes at The Daily Emerald at Oregon and The Red and Black at Georgia, are interesting reading and provide evidence that seismic changes are taking place in campus newsrooms across the country.
There's lots to consider here for The Orion. The newspaper is past due for a readership survey, and the rest of Cameron's recommendations for the continued health of student media organizations would be a great starting point for a conversation about the future.