Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Daring to Research the Obvious

As a grad student we'd joke -- "in mass comm, we dare research the obvious."

It was a thinly veiled and not-so-clever criticism of studies we were assigned to read in such classes as mass comm theory or mass comm & society. I was reminded of this line today when I found the latest issue of Newspaper Research Journal in my mailbox and saw this article title:

    Reducing Publication Decreases
    U.S. College Newspaper Revenue

In other words, making and selling fewer widgets will result in less sales. To be fair, the study is nowhere as simple as the title suggests. In fact, it's a damn good study. The authors examined financial data of 198 college newspapers to find that cutting the days of print publication -- all the rage now -- leads to a substantial loss in advertising revenue. Even with an audience of so-called digital natives, college students are "more apt to prefer the print version over the digital version of their campus newspaper." The idea of print dollars turning into digital dimes, so often seen at the professional level, seems even more dramatic for college newspapers, especially if you look at the statistical models presented in the study.

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