London Student is closing down due to funding, but should they try and save it?By Editor
The ongoing concern in the journalism world has, for a good while now, centered on the future of the printed word. Over the past few years, for instance, national broadsheets and tabloids alike there has been a steady decline in physical sales.
Looking to student publications, it was recently revealed that London Student, a paper that can be traced back to its inception in 1923, is set to come to end. Unless the union can raise an estimated £54,000 it appears this closure will actually be an eventuality.
The paper began in 1923, when it was called Vincula
Depressing as this may be to the hardworking writers on the team, especially as it’s the most widely read student rag in Europe, this could be a blessing in disguise. A waste of paper is a waste of paper, but journalism when placed in an updated context has helped revamp previous papers successfully before. So perhaps this should be what the London Student team should be considering right now.
In a report published in The Guardian, it was revealed that from August 2013 to January 2014 The Independent experienced a decreased rate of sales by 14.37% in their physical output, whereas its little brother paper the i had increased trade by 1.24%.
From this, one could argue that in the current climate short and concise news articles are preferable – especially to those on the move. Lest we forget 17- year-old Nick D’Aloisio who sold his news summarising app, Summly, to Yahoo! for $30 Million last year.
Teenage millionare, Nick D'Aliosio
So perhaps one way in which London Student could survive could be to release an edition of their brand that contains smaller, bitesize chunks of news and comment, creating a more accessible read to someone busy like a commuter.
Furthermore, the paper boasts an alleged 120,000 strong reach, which makes one ask: Why aren’t they branching out to as many people as possible? News comes in many forms, and LS’s website appears to be principally aimed at the more serious of affairs.
Whilst this is obviously acceptable, perhaps there is a section of their readership or potential readership that would enjoy shades of light. The latest in popular culture may be not to everyone’s taste, but it unquestionably popular, which explains why the Mail Online is presently the most popular internet-based news source.
Lastly, looking to Leeds University’s student rag, Leeds Student, it is clear why they are still going strong. They have the option to download their website as an iPad app, which has helped the team tap into a whole different audience, one which resides within a newer technological framework.
And as for the presentation of the content itself, Leeds Student has the appearance of The Guardian with its attractive layout and bright visuals. London Student by comparison has the feel of a blog, a good blog nevertheless, but not a professional outlet that has the audience it claims to have.
Speaking to the University of London’s Union, London Student’s editor, Oscar Webb said: “London Student has been a necessary and valuable asset to the University for the past 60 years”. This is of course true; it has helped break news stories and been a good informative force for London students. But whilst the union and reporters begin their campaign to raise money to save the paper, they should also be considering ways in which they can revamp it. That way, they can return stronger than ever.