In previous versions of this column, my predecessors have promised to improve the online presence of the ‘Prince’ in order to convert this daily newspaper into a true multiplatform news organization.
Thanks to their efforts, we are now there. The web is now just as crucial a destination for our stories as the printed page, and over the course of this year, our readers will notice an unprecedented emphasis on online-first and online-only content.
In some ways, this is a departure from the past, when the printed version represented the core of our identity. Nevertheless, both online and in print, our mission remains the same: to inform the University community on key campus issues and to provide the analysis that our readers cannot get anywhere else.
At this time of transition for the ‘Prince,’ a flip through the archives provides a telling look into how this paper’s role on campus has changed over its 136-year history.
In decades past, in addition to news and sports stories, editorials and advertisements, the pages of this newspaper frequently contained short announcements from the administration, academic departments and student groups with logistical information. Notices would inform students of the deadline to hand in their course preferences to the Registrar’s office, or tell members of the Glee Club where they were supposed to sit during the upcoming football game against Harvard.
On Sept. 21, 1954, the ‘Prince’ even ran a notice with information for freshmen and sophomores on how to apply to the University Press Club.
The prevalence of these announcements reflected the role that the ‘Prince’ played on campus as an efficient way to share and consume factual, often mundane information about day-to-day academic and extracurricular life. Students needed a way to learn about how to sign up for courses, and the administration needed a way to share that information with students. The ‘Prince’, in addition to its primary role of sharing the key stories of the day, was an effective solution.
Ever since the advent of Blackboard and listservs, students have no longer relied on the ‘Prince’ for this practical information. This leaves us with the challenge of giving you a reason to pick up our paper or visit our website, a challenge compounded by the fact that the likes of The New York Times and The Atlantic are also vying for attention on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
With announcements ranging from course enrollment deadlines to the planned retirement of the University president arriving directly in students’ inboxes, it can be tempting to think that everything one truly needs to know relating to life at Princeton can be found by simply checking your email.
This is not true. The University community needs the ‘Prince’ now as much as ever.
First of all, we will strive to be the first to report the hard news that impacts this campus, and we will do so with accuracy and integrity. When news breaks, we won’t wait until the next print edition to publish it. We’ll keep you updated with continual posts on Twitter (shameless plug: @princetonian) and online stories. By next fall, we will have unveiled a redesigned website that will help us accomplish this mission more effectively and provide a better user experience for our readers.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we will continue to be the only objective source of analysis explaining the stories behind the news affecting this campus every day. Our investigative and feature stories will detail the policies that govern this University and this town, and profile the people who make and enforce crucial decisions. We will cover news, uncover stories and provide insight and context on what it all means.
In addition, the columns and editorials on these Opinion pages will take bold stances that drive campus conversation. The Sports pages will provide in-depth stories about the numbers, the strategies, the teams and the players. The Street section will provide authoritative commentary on the campus arts scene and compassionate writing about student life at Princeton. Our photos, videos and graphics will both complement these stories and tell stories themselves. Our blogs will provide breaking updates, alternative perspectives and witty commentary.
Again, we must accomplish these goals in order to vie for your attention and keep your interest, both online and in print. If there’s something we can be doing better, let us know — leave a comment, send me an email, or submit a Letter to the Editor. If you think you can help us do better, join us — look out for recruiting announcements in the coming days.
Luc Cohen, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian, is a Wilson School major from New York, N.Y. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.