Some changes in both the format and the distribution of The Rocket in the upcoming school year will help the paper transition more into the digital age.
For the past few years, the Rocket has featured an electronic edition on Thursday nights and a print edition on Friday, publishing an average of 24 to 26 issues a year. Next year will feature only 10 print issues a year, with five print issues each semester. The print issues will consist of special themed issues.
Mark Zeltner, faculty adviser for The Rocket, said this was due to changes in advertising revenue and wanting to provide a different kind of product for the readers.
“This has been coming for a couple of years, other newspapers have lessened how many times they print and I think it’s a good thing to do, so we are going to try it,” Zeltner said.
“It’s going to be a big change,” Zeltner said. “The newspaper has been weekly for, as far as I know, since the 1920’s, so it’s a change in terms of our focus. It’s going to be tricky, so we’re just going to play it by ear and see how it goes.”
Zeltner said that next year’s paper will have a much larger focus on the website.
“We’re going to have more video content and interactive content and put our energies toward that so we’re still going to have a weekly product, it’s just not always going to be printed,” Zeltner said.
Janelle Wilson, Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of The Rocket for the past year and graduating journalism major, said that throughout the year the staff prepared for next year’s version of the paper and said that the transition has largely been driven by where the new staff wants to take the paper.
“This year we played a lot more with design and interacting with people via social media and now we’re moving toward an online format and opening ourselves into that idea so it’s faster deadlines and more design,” Wilson said.
Zeltner said that switching the focus of the paper to the online version will make the paper more accessible to readers.
“I would say 90 percent of our readership now is online, it’s just the way things are now,” Zeltner said. “People don’t like to read print newspapers as much and I think people will react well to it.”
Ryan Barlow, public relations major, will be the EIC for the upcoming year and will guide the new staff with the new changes, and said the new design will help to preserve the paper in the future.
“Since we’re not going to be a weekly publication anymore, we get to focus on making the few printed editions special and feature-oriented,” Barlow said. “I’m excited to work with those people and have different versions of the Rocket coming out every month with different covers so I’m excited to see how that works out.”