The End of an Era: The Death of Paper Print


Violet Updike

A paper copy of Lafayette’s newspaper from the 1950s

The newspaper is a staple of American journalism, but at the turn of the century, paper versions have almost become extinct. Some Americans have yet to notice this change, prefering to use large news online sites such as CNN, Fox, or NBC to get their breaking news, and while this change is overall more economically feasible for journalists, this change is killing smaller newspapers.

Here at Lafayette, The Lafayette Times prints a physical copy for exiting seniors and their families at graduation. For all of the second semester, alongside publishing and writing, we contact local businesses to advertise online and in our paper. Last year the physical paper cost $1200 for 2000 full color copies. While this isn’t a terrible price, The Times receives no funding from the school other than our $25 fee from students at the beginning of the year. That fee doesn’t even cover the price for the site we use, so we have to fundraise for our paper copy of the Senior edition.

A print version of The Times is created by all of the staff. It’s a nice keepsake for any senior. Truth be told though, often when a senior receives a paper copy, it’s their first time reading from us. This wasn’t always the case, though. At one point, Lafayette had a thriving paper that produced a weekly physical copy. Now, the majority of Lafayette students don’t know we exist, so we rarely break 100 reads online. This is a major problem for a lot of other small papers. People don’t know they exist.

The main reason people don’t know they have a local paper is because there’s no print copy which, as Lafayette has experienced, is very expensive. We can barely afford our senior print edition for one day out of the school year, there’s no way we could do it every week. This is something the majority of the local press can’t do, which is tragic. Local papers are vital to communities. According to The Guardian, before hurricane Harvey wrecked Houston, The Tribune had investigated how climate change could affect the hurricane. The Tribune predicted where Harvey was most likely to devastate.

The Tribune’s work was vital, but it went largely unnoticed. While The Times has never had to report about something as high stakes as a hurricane, we also share the fate of our reporting being forgotten. Americans are so focused on national news that they forget people are reporting on their local towns. The local news is extremely important. I urge you to look at the local news around you. Our towns are changing, but if we only care about what major news corporations care about, we’ll miss those changes.