Print journalism still important in age of digital media

Physical papers offer packaged, in-depth reporting in ways digital journalism cannot

Jessica Zhou, Guest columnist

As you might know from our Facebook ads and Student Media staff trying to make eye contact with you on the mall, the proposed fall and spring semester $5 Student Media fee is up for vote.

I hope you exercise your right to participate in school elections as an engaged member of the campus community, but most importantly, I hope you vote yes on the Student Media fee.

Students make up a large portion of Pullman, so our coverage extends beyond campus and into the Pullman community and surrounding Palouse. The only other professional paper in the area, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, is based in Moscow, Idaho.

As a computer science major and this semester’s social media manager, I’m excited to see how the media industry, especially The Daily Evergreen, will evolve with emerging technologies and platforms.

My earliest memory of reading the news is from elementary school, sitting at the family desktop computer and scrolling through the carousel of news stories on the Yahoo homepage. Like most students, I never quite had an attachment to print newspapers growing up.

Yet for some reason, after the first night of newspaper production as the Evergreen’s assistant news editor last fall, there was something so electric about holding a physical copy of the print edition the day after, to see a story I helped write on the front page of the news section I helped design.

Putting out a print paper Monday through Friday serves as a valuable professional daily news experience for students, a collegiate experience parallel to that of our professional counterparts at publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Our goal isn’t just to gain experience but to provide engaging content for the Pullman community.

In the past school year alone, we were there for the underrepresented student activists’ sit-in at the French admin building, the bomb threats in Stimson Hall and when The Pullman Regional Hospital made the historic decision to offer gender reassignment surgery. We followed up on the closure of the Performing Arts department, the reopening of Cougar Safe Rides, the sophomore who mooned national audiences at the Stanford game during Dad’s Weekend and everyone’s favorite thing to argue about, changes to parking rates on campus.

The importance of passing the Student Media fee is twofold — to sustain our daily print paper, the largest circulating print product in the area and maintain the level of quality for the next generation of journalists.

On top of producing a daily print paper, in the past two semesters The Daily Evergreen staff has been striving toward a more digital-first newsroom. We livestream ASWSU meetings, publish breaking news as it happens, produce stunning photo and video stories and address every message we get in our Facebook inbox.

Maintaining the duality of print and digital experience is important. Amid the clutter of social media news feeds, print news products offer a reprieve from heated political debate, excessive vacation photo albums and racist memes from your uncle.

You won’t notice a $5 fee, but you will notice a lack of expansive coverage and in-depth reporting.