In December of 1885, The Daily Pennsylvanian published Vol. 1, No. 1. For $2 a year, readers could receive what our founders referred to as “essentially and thoroughly, the college paper.” Since then, remaining “essential” and “thorough” has demanded that the definition of “college paper” change. Today, the DP is a multi-million dollar media organization and is completely independent editorially from the University.
We have grown since the 19th century, and we continue to grow now. This past year, we have been working harder than ever to engage with campus leaders to ensure that our coverage captures the diverse array of perspectives on campus — and while we have a long way to go, I’m proud of the work our staff has done thus far. On top of that, our website is fresher, our social media updates more frequently and our three publications produce more content, including podcasts and videos. Our readers are spending more time online, and so are we.
Next academic year, we will take another leap toward improving our journalism and reaching our readers. Beginning in the fall, The Daily Pennsylvanian will be printed on Mondays and Thursdays, and 34th Street Magazine will be printed on Wednesdays. By printing the newspaper two days a week, we will be able to accomplish three huge goals: freeing up time for our staff to pursue better journalism, expanding our digital content and enabling us to make each newspaper something special and dynamic.
Given the current state of the media industry, we believe in dedicating the majority of our energy and resources to bettering the stories we tell. Our editors and award-winning design team dedicate an incredible amount of time to crafting the print edition most nights a week. While our newspaper is a great resource for our readers, we plan to reallocate much of that time to improving the quality and depth of our reporting.
Yet, our print presence conveys the power, credibility and timelessness of the DP’s journalists. Our readers deserve thorough and relevant print editions, and we are making changes to all of our products to make sure we are delivering quality newspapers. The DP’s front page will get a makeover: Our opinion section will expand to reflect the diversity of viewpoints on campus.
The most exciting upgrades will come to 34th Street. Nearly 50 years ago, 34th Street was founded as a weekly insert in the DP. Now, the magazine has its own day and will be printing more issues than before. These shifts are part of a year-long effort to bolster the journalistic quality and visibility of 34th Street, and we believe that the standards for the magazine will be higher than ever next semester.
Digital media has become a major focus of any journalistic organization. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 50 percent of adults age 18-29 said they often get their news online, while only five percent said the same of print newspapers. Even when considering all age groups — taking into account the preferences of Penn’s faculty, staff, alumni and parents — the numbers still show that readers are almost twice as likely to choose the internet than they are print newspapers.
No matter how we deliver our news, the DP’s success will depend on deep engagement with our readers. The most important way we can do that, of course, is through our journalism. We are committed to upgrading our content, training and standards, but as I wrote last month, our improvement in all these areas is dependent on feedback from you, our readers. Now more than ever, we need your help to ensure that the journalists of our generation are prepared to produce quality work in the modern media era.
At the end of the day, our simple mission drives us: inform our community in a credible way, and prepare our staff to excel beyond Penn. Online and in print, we will continue to reinvent what it means to be the essential and thorough college paper.
CARTER COUDRIET is a College junior from Franklin Park, N.J., studying political science. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the president of the 133rd board of The Daily Pennsylvanian.