The Bulletin is no more.
After 77 years of disseminating University of Manitoba news in print, the school has decided to publish its goings-on in digital form only.
According to the U of M, the decision to switch to an online-only news format was largely in response to feedback from the university community.
U of M marketing communications director John Danakas told the Manitoban that recent survey results indicated that participants “overwhelmingly” prefer to read news either on mobile devices or through another electronic format.
Furthermore, according to Danakas, people had been contacting the university independent of that survey for years, asking the school to cease printing paper copies of its “newspaper of record.”
“Especially over the past five years, we’ve been getting numerous phone calls and letters asking us to please consider not continuing to print the Bulletin, and to send it out electronically,” said Danakas.
Other reasons for ending the print version of the Bulletin included the environmental impact of printing and a desire to keep pace with other schools.
“A lot of universities across Canada have stopped printing a community newspaper,” noted Danakas.
In the current and final issue of the newspaper, a note from U of M president David Barnard summarizes the administration’s reasoning: “The Bulletin is no longer the most immediate or sustainable way to communicate with each other in an electronic age,” it reads.
The U of M will now deliver news to faculty, staff, alumni, and students via an electronic news site, UM Today. The U of M News Room, which circulates the school’s press releases, will continue to stand as a separate entity.
Danakas says that because UM Today can be updated anytime, it will enable the university to provide news in a timely fashion – a challenge that the Bulletin sometimes struggled with due to its biweekly publishing schedule.
Switching to an online format will also allow readers to engage more with published content, the U of M hopes.
“We are able to offer more comprehensive news because we can add video and many more visuals,” said Danakas. “We are also able to add an interactive component. UM Today has the capacity to invite comments from readers, and people can respond.”
UM Today was launched on Oct. 23, one day before the final issue of the Bulletin hit stands. The website is configured to allow ease of use on smartphones and tablets.
No staff members were let go as a result of the switchover from the Bulletin to UM Today, according to the U of M. Bulletin editor Mariianne Mays Wiebe will now hold one of two editorial position at UM Today.
“The staff resources that went into publishing the Bulletin are now going into UM Today,” explained Danakas. “No one has had to leave the university.”
Mays Wiebe told the Manitoban that working with an electronic format will enable the paper to continue exploring new ways to interact with the U of M community.
“As Bulletin editor, one of the things I was (and continue to be) interested in is the possibility of community building in interesting, diverse ways,” she said.
“That will continue in the new forum. Personally I don’t feel much like I’m ‘looking back at something,’ so much as continuing on and looking forward to the new possibilities with the different format.”
A special commemorative issue of the Bulletin is currently available on stands across campus. The issue features reprinted covers, headlines, and photos from the 77-year history of the paper.
While the paper will no longer be an everyday sight on campus, the university will continue to hold an archive of the Bulletin’s back issues.
The Bulletin first appeared at the U of M in 1936 as the University Bulletin, under the direction of then-president and vice-chancellor Sidney Smith. It became the University Bulletin & Alumni Journal in 1947, the Alumni Journal in 1952, and finally the Bulletin (following a brief hiatus) in 1966.
“We’re very proud of the Bulletin and the work that we’ve been able to put into it, but we’re looking forward to taking a lot of that and directing it into UM Today,” John Danakas told the Manitoban. “UM Today will include a lot of the same features as the Bulletin [ . . . ] but it also opens up so many possibilities as well.”
The Bulletin is no more.