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BYU's student newspaper transitions to monthly printing with plans for a magazine

Allison McArthur via The Daily Universe

BYU's student newspaper transitions to monthly printing with plans for a magazine

By Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Posted - Apr. 12, 2021 at 7:02 p.m.



PROVO — The Daily Universe, Brigham Young University's laboratory news outlet, is updating its product lineup with plans to transition its weekly print edition to a magazine.

The Daily Universe has been a part of BYU since 1956 and was a daily newspaper until 2012, when it switched to weekly printing.

The last weekly publication of the paper will be printed on Tuesday; after that, editions will be monthly. For the spring and summer semesters, The Daily Universe's monthly edition will look the same as its weekly editions, and it will be rebranded starting in fall semester.

"The basic idea is to give students more time to dive into a topic and become, sort of, experts on it and be able to write with some authority and some interpretation, some substantive knowledge about it," explained Ed Carter, director of BYU's school of communications.

The school is in the process of replacing newspaper stands with magazine stands, and looking into potential new names for the publication — like "Universe Magazine" — and printing it on high-quality glossy paper like traditional magazines. Carter noted, however, those details aren't yet finalized. But he said the hope is the magazine will be ready and on the racks by the first day of the fall semester later this year.

"We want it to be engaging and interesting — I mean, obviously, nobody wants to put out a magazine that's boring; but we want it to appeal to students," he said.

The Daily Universe, however, will continue to publish daily and breaking news stories on its website, universe.byu.edu.

"Mostly the content for The Daily University is primarily digital-first, so in the long run it's not going to make too much of a difference for students and staff members at The Daily Universe," explained Editor-in-Chief Lisi Merkley. "If anything, we'll be able to focus on that digital content more and do more innovative stuff with our website."

In theory, the new model will bring flexibility to the school's journalism program and allow students to have the opportunity of writing in-depth and long-form news stories for the magazine without being weighed down by the work of a weekly publication, Carter said. Additionally, students will still be able to gain experience in writing daily news stories for the website.

"The Daily Universe has an amazing legacy and a very robust and loyal readership both online and on campus," said Steve Fidel, the former director of the student newspaper and new general manager for KSL.com. "My hope is that the journalism students in the future will continue to have an opportunity to learn how to write daily news that's important to the BYU community while they develop the skills for more in-depth and analytical reporting."

The student paper's transition mirrors recent trends seen in Salt Lake's media market as the two largest newspapers in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune and The Deseret News, recently switched from a daily publication to a weekly print edition.

The Deseret News, which is also owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently launched a monthly magazine focused on in-depth news coverage.

The decision to transition The Daily Universe came after a task force of three journalism school faculty members, including Carter, examined academic and instruct research to look at how best to incorporate the print medium into the program.

Carter is confident the transition will help meet important goals of the journalism program's curriculum and introduce students to new learning opportunities. The program was also recently awarded the BYU President's Innovation Grant, which led to the task force and will hopefully help expand the journalism school's teaching opportunities through travel and a guest lecture series.

As for the celebration plans to commemorate the printing of the final weekly paper, Merkley said this week has pretty much been business as usual and focused on getting the news out. The final weekly edition will include some highlights from the last nine years of weekly papers as well.

However, in August the students are hoping to create a more in-depth and celebratory edition for the final printing of The Daily Universe newspaper.

"It is kind of a nostalgic thing for a lot of students," Merkley said. "I do think that's kind of the future of journalism is this digital platform. So, hopefully it will go well. The students will be the ones who benefit from the change in the end."

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