By Kayla Fritz –
Who needs paper? Not The J-TAC. The J-TAC, Tarleton’s 92-year-old newspaper, will transition from a printed product to online-only this spring semester.
Student Publications Director Jim Looby said he has anticipated change for the newspaper for the past couple years — since budget cuts began.
Looby stressed that this transition is not another loss of a tradition, but a smart step in making news more easily available for the readers.
“The tradition is the news and its quality, not the actual paper,” Looby said.
The spring 2011 printed issues will continue until the end of April. During the final semester, Looby said readers will see more promotion for The J-TAC’s website.
The current website views have increased this semester with the change of the front page design, according to Looby. He said the increase in online readership will help make the transition easier.
A J-TAC staff member will have to adjust to change.
Freshman staff member Clifford Jones said, “I had always heard about other newspapers doing it, but I never thought that I would ever be a part of a newspaper that wasn’t on paper.”
When Student Body President Alycia Pruitt heard the news, she said she understood the technological need for the change, but was sad at the same time.
“I will certainly miss the Thursday afternoon deliveries and smiling faces when students go to pick up the new issue from the newsstands,” Pruitt said.
Looby is gathering information and said he hopes to launch a J-TAC smart phone application to co-exist with the new website. News updates can be done daily, no longer printing seven-day-old news, he said.
Looby said he is most excited about viewer participation. He wants the Tarleton community to submit stories, story ideas, photos, and adding comments to enhance stories and the communication on the site. The website will appeal to a larger audience for the whole university.
Other advantages benefit student writers and advertisers. Editors will no longer have to omit or trim stories or photos due to a lack of space. Advertisements would provide readers with hyperlinks to advertisers’ websites.
Looby said he has researched other publications making changes to online-only publications. Looby wanted his student editors and writers to know the latest methods of news communication so they can leave college with the hands-on experience and secure a job at a news publication.
The new J-TAC will use its current budget more productively cutting costs on printing and distribution, according to Looby.
Looby said the paper and ink used, even recycled, is expensive for the poor quality received. Portable is cheaper, and money saved can be used for the innovation of the website and phone application, along with adding a cushion for any future budget cuts in the publication department.
More copies of the final printed version of The J-TAC will be published than normal. They are looking at printing the final issue on a higher quality of paper for a cleaner look and archival quality.
Reporter Kayla Fritz also works for the Tarleton Grassburr yearbook, under the direction of Student Publications Director Jim Looby.