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BYU's Daily Universe moves to weekly paper, focuses on 'digital first'

Brigham Young University's 55-year-old Daily Universe newspaper will turn into a weekly paper by the end of April 2012, with a focus on daily digital content instead of daily print media, announced the school's Department of Communications Jan. 12.

With a circulation as high as 18,500 in past years, a "digital-first" platform will enable the free paper, which serves as a voice for the campus as well as a laboratory for the department's students, "to make more information available to readers more quickly," Joel Campbell, managing editor of the paper and also a journalism faculty member, said in a department news release.

"We feel that this move will best prepare our students to work in multiple news platforms," he added.

Written by student and staff writers, The Daily Universe regularly reports on campus devotionals given by Church General Authorities as well as university professors and other distinguished guests; general conference proceedings; local and international news topics; and other news related to campus life at BYU and the Church as a whole.

With the paper's old model, news stories, such as articles covering campus devotionals, used to appear online — where many readers look first — later in the evening or the following day, said department chair and associate professor Dr. Brad Rawlins.

"Covering conference and devotionals are of great interest to us, and it will continue to be of utmost importance," he said, emphasizing that "going digital means the content will appear much quicker than it has."

The announcement to move away from a daily print publication comes as the entire newspaper industry is seeing a shift in how readers access and consume news media, with some readers ignoring print copies of publications in favor of online or portable device versions. Despite the Daily Universe's planned changes, however, Dr. Rawlins said he believes the student-produced paper will continue to be a "familiar face and a familiar friend" as it "matches the real news environment" today.

For some, the move away from a daily print publication is saddening. Kaye Nelson, who works as editorial lab manager and student mentor at the paper, is nostalgic.

"The DU is more than words on paper — it is a family of student reporters and staff, alumni, advisers, professional staff and more," she said. "Unlike some classes, this one, I'm told, changes lives."

Daryl Gibson, who works as the paper's director of systems and productions, first started at the Universe in 1976 as a student and has been with the paper since.

On the school's College of Fine Arts and Communications history website, he recalled: "Sometimes alumni come back to visit [and] look around at 'their' newspaper. It doesn't matter how long they've been gone— it's still their newspaper, every bit as much as it belongs to me or anyone else."

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