The student newspaper at Fort Hays State University -- The University Leader -- published its last issue Thursday, falling victim to a trend that has seen the failure of newspapers from coast to coast.
In just the past five years, some of the most notable daily newspapers that have ceased to publish a print edition or completely shut down include The Tucson Citizen, The Rocky Mountain News, The Baltimore Examiner, The Cincinnati Post, The Albuquerque Tribune, The San Juan Star and The Honolulu Advertiser. Most recently, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, which was founded in 1837, announced that it would cease daily publication and print just three times a week. It also offers the news online.
"We see this as a great opportunity for our students, the university and the journalism profession," said Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. "We were not surprised that The Leader is ceasing publication. This is a national trend driven by the changing economies of the newspaper business, and the editor and Student Publication Board have kept us informed of The Leader's ongoing difficulties."
President Hammond declined a request for the university to bail out The Leader by funding it through the remainder of this school year, instead opting to devote the spring semester to studying the news and information needs of the campus community.
"I will appoint a task force, chaired by Dr. Paul Faber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to work with the FHSU administration in designing a multi-media model to meet news and information needs," he said. "We have given independent support to the four delivery modalities for news and information -- print, radio, television and the Internet -- but the time has come to develop an integrated model."
He said the university provost, Dr. Larry Gould, and the faculty want the new model to include academic linkage so that the new multi-media news source will have synergy to strengthen both the education of FHSU students and the delivery of news and information. The goal is to implement the new model at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester.
"To assist in the process, FHSU will sponsor and fund a campus-wide symposium of regional and possibly national experts who understand the challenges and solutions of an integrated, multi-media news and information model," Dr. Hammond said. That public symposium will probably be scheduled for sometime in March.
"I am not locked into any specific outcome at this point because I do not want to prejudge the work of the task force," he added.