Like print media everywhere, UT’s beloved Daily Texan is struggling to stay afloat. Meanwhile, alternative sources of campus news are thriving—and giving students a crash course in the future of journalism.
Where are the Eyes of Texas? Since 1900, the Daily Texan has been the easy answer to that question. Its 13,000 copies at 400 campus locations make the Daily Texan the essential fold and crinkle for any bus ride around the Forty Acres.
But like print media everywhere, the Daily Texan is hemorrhaging money. Falling advertising revenues and funding cuts have taken the paper from a $45,054 profit in 2007 to a $224,203 deficit budgeted for 2011. Even the 18,000 printed copies of the newspaper represent a 25 percent drop from 2005.
“The Texan is from this very old guard that is much in the guise of the New York Times,” managing editor Aleksander Chan says. “That doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the way people have gotten used to reading on the Internet.”
With change comes opportunity. While behemoth traditional print newspapers struggle to keep their readers, upstart alternative media outlets are thriving online. Because online publications minimize overhead, campus media sites like The Horn, Her Campus Texas, and Black Ink are free to cater to audiences much smaller than that of the Daily Texan and still turn a profit.
Here’s a look at the new faces of journalism on the Forty Acres.
Her Campus Texas
FOUNDED: Spring 2010
In the vein of Glamour and Marie Claire, Her Campus Texas caters to trendy “collegiettes” with articles on style, health, and relationships. Her Campus Texas is just one of more than 200 Her Campus chapters throughout the United States and garners close to 3,000 page views per week. The Texas chapter operates using funds from the national Her Campus organization, which reportedly brought in $1 million last year.
SECRET WEAPON: Sharp marketing. Her Campus Texas has nabbed sponsorships with local businesses and big names like Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret. The magazine also promotes its brand through events. After the Bastrop wildfires, Her Campus Texas held a charity drive for feminine products, which often get overlooked during relief efforts.
FOUNDED: Fall 2012
A reincarnation of “The Griot,” a 1980s-era UT African-American publication, Black Ink hopes to channel the strong community and camaraderie of UT’s black community. With a team of 15 committed writers and fundraising well underway, the publication will launch this fall.
SECRET WEAPON: Filling a void. Editor-in-chief Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman says the need for a unified voice is apparent when the African-American student community is tested by controversies like the Daily Texan’s cartoon about the Trayvon Martin shooting. Matthews-Hoffman admits, “There was kind of a disconnect. Everybody was way mad, but there was really no way to go about it in an organized fashion.” Black Ink hopes to right that.
FOUNDED: Spring 2010
The Horn is a UT-Austin focused blog in direct competition with the Daily Texan, getting about one-quarter of the newspaper’s online traffic. Sections include news, opinion, sports, and music.
SECRET WEAPON: Style. News editor Jessica Huff describes the Horn as the Daily Texan “but more hip,” a Slate to the New York Times. The site’s most popular piece is a recurring column called “The Gentleman’s Glass,” which features a fraternity brother’s guide to fine spirits. The buzz is so good that the Horn plans to hire a columnist devoted to chronicling Greek life for the fall.
Photo courtesy Flickr user NS Newsflash.