My journalism students have been publishing an online edition for five years now, and it’s only in the last two years that they’ve really figured out how to do it right. When we first launched our website, it was a novelty, an afterthought, a place where we deposited our stories after they were printed, hoping they might get a few more readers. Even after several years, the print edition’s needs continued to dominate almost every aspect of our work and production.
It makes sense that the print edition maintained this central role––it offers a tangible, real experience that can’t be replaced by a website. There’s a physical presence to the newspaper: students feel its heft in their hands as they walk around the school, handing it to their readers and seeing their immediate reactions. They return from distribution with ink-stained hands and begin to flip through the final product themselves with a sense of accomplishment and pride.