Are you reading this ? The Prospectus changing ways to remain a relevant news source
It is without a doubt that printed news is going out of style in the 21st century. Modern day newspapers that did not already have a massive fan base are going out of business and those who are still around are making adjustments to appear on social media free of charge.
A large majority of students at Parkland do not realize The Prospectus exists even though there is not only print, but also a website and a Facebook page.
Anthony Weddle, a freshman, knew nothing about The Prospectus, but he remembers at Central High School in Champaign there was a student publication called The Chronicle.
“We had a newspaper called The Chronicle…I think every month a new issue would come out and the English teachers would just pass it out to everybody and high schoolers aren’t usually that interested…but because people get bored they’d read it because they didn’t have anything else to do, after a while they started gaining interest in it,” Weddle said.
Partnering with the English department could reach out to a lot of students since English is a required class to graduate.
“I think a lot more people would be interested in the newspaper if they didn’t have to go out of their way to get it. If it’s right there [in front of them] and it’s convenient a bunch of people might like it,” Weddle continued.
The Prospectus is free and spread out around as much of the school’s hallways as possible, but it is not enough.
Networking is important too; currently The Prospectus has their articles on a small tab in everyone’s my.parkland.edu account. Weddle recommends The Prospectus get in touch with the Cobra creators to display their articles and websites on there.
At the end of the day, Weddle remarked, some students just may not be interested in events related to Parkland. However, there are still plenty of students, staff and faculty at Parkland College that would take an interest if they could just be reached.
Fine and Applied Arts Instructor Adam Porter shares a memory of newspapers before the Internet was around,
“I grew up remembering my dad reading the paper every night when he got home from work; the newspaper was like a physical tangible thing that was just part of our everyday lives,” Porter reflected.
These days social media is replacing the paper and becoming more a part of student’s everyday life.
“I always ask the students; raise your hand if your primary source for news is the nightly news. No hands go up. Raise your hand if your primary source for news is a physical newspaper. Maybe one hand goes up. Raise your hand if your primary sources for news is your mobile device or the Internet. All the hands go up,” Porter said.
Porter teaches a communications class and a class that interacts with Parkland’s radio station. Radio has had its popularity decrease substantially over the years similar to print newspapers. Since the invention of television, talk radio has become nearly nonexistent. Today, the Spotify and Pandora app are competitors to radio stations.
“You know people have been talking doom and gloom for terrestrial radio, and newspapers, and printed books… and none of them are truly dead yet. I hope they will all find a way to reinvent themselves. I think they will,” Porter remarked.
The future of journalism may require a more interactive news experience that includes interactive ads “instead of just a 2D page in a magazine you could actually have an advertisement for say a car where the user can not just look at the car but they could spin it around, they can open a door go inside of it, can see a video of the test driving,” Porter said.
Although it is a unique concept, Parkland is obviously on a budget, the students working for the newspaper also have other priorities such as schooling, so what can The Prospectus do instead?
Associate Fine and Applied Arts Professor Kendra McClure suggests understanding the readers. Her students in introduction to advertising are conducting a research project this year to help the Prospectus promote,
“One of the things that we found in our survey [a couple of years ago] is that students on campus site flyers and posters as their number one promotional tool… Interestingly enough the second answer was none. Meaning that students who took this survey just tend to not pay attention to a lot of different kinds of campus promotion so that’s a barrier that we have to try to overcome,” McClure explained.
McClure also describes a situation where a small portion of students knew about the paper,
“I’ve taken two sections of COM 101 on a field trip to The Prospectus to learn about how the newspaper operates here and very few read The Prospectus on a regular basis,” McClure said.
Currently, the small staff working on the newspaper have multiple responsibilities, they may do a combination of writing, editing, taking pictures, managing media websites, etc. which is very different from how it was in the past when a person had a single job to be done. Compared to larger publications that are able to dedicate specific people to each task, students on The Prospectus has a huge amount of responsibility to take on each week in order to get a publication out to the racks.
McClure agrees with Porter that The Prospectus should make an even bigger social media presence that develops personal relationships with the readers while also gaining their insight.
Several Prospectus staff members have volunteered to take on the extra responsibility to update the social media platforms and increase our readership online. And while it may be a slow improvement, each new idea brings the newspaper that much closer to becoming a relevant source of information for the readers at Parkland College.
If you’d like to provide feedback on how to make your reading experience of The Prospectus more fulfilling, please email TheProspectusNewspaper@gmail.com