The times they are a-changin’

The Manitoban is preparing to bring students daily online content

Graphic by Jondell Coombs.

The Manitoban was first published in Nov. 1914 and has been chugging along in some form or another for over 101 years. It’s one of the largest and oldest student papers in Western Canada.

Eminent writers, journalists, artists, and community leaders including Marhsall McLuhan, Andrew Coyne, Nahlah Ayed, and Graham Spry, among others, have contributed to the paper. We’re student-run, student-funded, and have been a place for debate and engagement for decades.

The paper has run our own independent website since 2009 and while it may have had a novel charm in its first few years, we’ve seen its appeal go up drastically over the last couple of years through a massive uptick in online readership. As people – particularly young people – have changed the medium they use to get their news, our website and online presence has gone from a side feature to an integral part of what we do.

In 2015, we had to upgrade our web hosting due to the amount of traffic we were receiving and made a move to a more mobile-friendly web-design. But we have a lot more to do.

In order to better meet our mandate of informing and entertaining the U of M community and serving as a training grounds for aspiring journalists, we’ll be making a major change in our logistical model: we’re shifting to an online-first mode of production.

Since Jan. 1 we’ve been testing the release of daily online content with our arts & culture section. This process will continue as we begin to incorporate the news, comment, features, editorial, and science & technology sections into daily weekday release in the coming weeks. Additionally, you can also expect post-game recaps of Bisons games from our sports section on weekends.

While the Manitoban has experimented with breaking news in an online format in the past, this represents a more structural shift in how we operate. Rather than occasional major news stories representing the entirety of our online-first content and a break from our traditional model, you can expect to see new content on our website (and promoted through our social media accounts) every weekday during the school year. This is the new standard.

The media landscape has changed drastically in recent years, with increasingly easy access to high-speed Internet and the proliferation of mobile phones and devices, and we have to change with it in order to stay relevant and meet students’ needs.

We’ll continue to print our weekly physical paper, but under the online-first system the print issue will serve as a bound version of the previous 7 days of online content. You won’t see a weekly drop of content on our website every Tuesday, but a steady stream that encourages students to take a look at what’s new every day.

Part of the shift to online-first means redoubling our efforts through social media, to ensure the channels are there to connect readers with our content. While we do use major social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, and have made major efforts to expand our reach through those sites already this year, in 2016 we’ll be dedicating even more resources to online distribution.

The Manitoban has an amazingly talented and dedicated staff who are committed to providing the best content possible. Our reporters, editors, and associates scrutinize every sentence, every graphic, and every photo to make sure the paper is as good as it can be every week. And now we’re hoping to put that same level of effort into getting our stories into your hands.

For us, the change will be a major undertaking, but we believe it will be well worth the effort. We hope that you continue to read the Manitoban in whichever form best suits your needs.