College newspapers, a subset of the print media world that seemed relatively unscathed in the recent newspaper crisis, may not be so safe after all. At Penn State, the battle between the school's 112-year-old newspaper The Daily Collegian and the months-old campus blog Onward State is heating up -- and putting the print daily in jeopardy.
"The old/new media rivalry might not be generational, but ideological," writes Greg Ferenstein in his Mashable report about the way Onward State -- without a newsroom, a large staff, or a set team of reporters -- is giving the Daily Collegian a run for its money.
So what is Onward State's secret? A robust Twitter following for one, as well as a growing newsroom that exists entirely online. Through social media and a link-happy approach, they're able to make breaking news readily accessible, and have found that they are able to harness technology in order to ensure a steady flow of timely tips.
As for keeping tabs on campus activity, because there is no formal workplace, Onward State writers are already situated throughout the university. For instance, when the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile came to Penn State, Onward State reporters were already sprinkled throughout campus, and a writer in the vicinity could have been tapped to snag a quick photo. As silly as it may seem to give priority to something like the Wiener Mobile, hyper-local news is still about competitive advantage, and speedy reporting gives Onward State an upper-hand.
In the report, Daily Collegian Editor-in-Chief Rossilynne Skena argues that the paper has the advantage of obtaining more in-depth information through its trained staff. But the apparent lag in the daily's approach to social media mirrors that of newspapers across the country who, for various reasons, are at a disadvantage if they maintain their seemingly superior print product apart from technology that could allow them to better compete against new media outlets. And especially on college campuses -- the ideal places for experimentation -- the daily newspapers should perhaps take a few hints from the rising popularity of campus blogs.