The Rambler Rolls with the Times

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At universities across the country, advisers, educators and student journalists are witnessing or participating in the biggest transition in college media since campus newspapers appeared in modern form in the mid-to-late 1800s.

The University of Georgia’s student newspaper, The Red and Black, was one of the first student newspapers to change to a web-first approach in 2011, according to PBS MediaShift. The Red and Black was closely followed by the Emerald of the University of Oregon, which started planning to overhaul its model in early 2012 and has since expanded to include extra elements such as a separate humor website known as Quackd.

The American Journalism Review reports that college newspaper editors across the country have since been following suit.

The time has arrived for the Transylvania Rambler to join them in this historic shift from print to digital.

In our nation’s history never has there been greater urgency in acquiring media literacy. Until only very recently, the information technologies that have so rapidly become pervasive in our daily lives did not exist.

Now, difficult as it is for many of us to accept, the audience for digital media has far surpassed that of print and there is no reason to anticipate that this trend will plateau or end.

These conditions make it imperative that we redirect our focus to our digital audience.

Tuck this edition away for safekeeping. It’s a piece of Transy history, for it is the final print issue of the Rambler.

Our move from the print to the digital-mobile medium reflects dynamics now occurring in the larger media industry. Our goal is to more closely align the experiences of the Rambler staff with new and emerging technologies of 21st century media. And to prepare students for a world in which journalism is digital first.

The Rambler has been a part of the life and culture of Transylvania University for many generations. With this change, we are concentrating our focus on delivering information about campus and community life via the digital means a majority of our student body prefers.

In January of this year, Business Administration major Edward Yang completed a campus marketing study commissioned by the Rambler to discover how students and faculty are accessing news content.

What we’re hearing from the Transylvania campus community is not a localized, passing trend. It is a permanent change that has swept much of the world.

48 percent of respondents to our survey said they prefer to read news via social media. 39 percent go online to get their news and information. 5 percent prefer print.

In addition, vast majorities of those surveyed said they want to see their campus publication concentrate more on matters of relevance to university life. And there is a desire for more news about the community surrounding the campus.

We look forward to collaborating with our Writing, Rhetoric and Communication and Computer Science colleagues in the development of technology and compelling content characterized by a dynamism that simply is not possible on the printed page.

Online content lives on beyond its initial publication. As events develop, copy can be updated, or corrected, accordingly. Digital articles can contain links to relevant sources of information. And, in addition to photography, print’s only alternative to text, video and audio are expected assets of an enjoyable online experience.

Content can be archived for quick and easy access.

And if all goes as planned, our Computer Science friends will work during winter term to develop a Rambler app so that beginning with the Fall term you will be able to receive notifications that fresh information has just been posted to the website.

We believe that our limited time and resources can best be applied to serving your interests and information needs by concentrating our work in the digital realm.

Beginning with the Winter Term, we look forward to building the transyrambler.com platform into a vital campus resource. We hope to become more engaged in campus events and to discover new ways to facilitate the communication that is so vital to any thriving community.

Editor in Chief Tristan Reynolds is currently engaged in an exciting and interesting process of working with the Rambler staff to explore new ways to share information, determine coverage priorities, and reorganize the production process.

We hope to make our web-based platform welcoming to guest articles by Transy alumni reporting back to campus on the world they’ve discovered following graduation.

And we look forward to exploring the possibilities presented by video and audio.

Now, in place of expending energies in the tedium of a print layout as the next paper edition is prepared to be sent to the printer. The Rambler staff will now enjoy more flexibility and will present content for publication free of the deadline pressures and stress that can too often result in oversights and mistakes. This is especially important as finals approach and time becomes limited.

There is discussion among the staff about becoming more engaged in campus events and even sponsoring a few.

You’ll hear more about all of this soon after the holiday break.

In the meantime, as we navigate this transition, your support, encouragement and ideas are most appreciated.

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