Maneater shifts to once-a-week print publication

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 | 9:45 p.m. CDT; updated 6:40 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 22, 2013

COLUMBIA — For the first time in 43 years, MU's independent campus newspaper, The Maneater, is going to start publishing a little differently.

The newspaper will now publish once a week on Wednesdays, rather than twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays as it has since 1969. The newspaper will keep its continual online presence.

"We were spending time chasing our tails," Ted Noelker, editor-in-chief, said. "We wanted to be timely, but we would still be a day or two behind when we actually published. There was a lot of effort and resources being wasted."

The Maneater is being printed on the same size paper as previous volumes, but the look of the publication has changed. According to a news release, the new model has "greater visuals and content variation."

The first issue of the publication's 80th volume, published Wednesday, boasts a three-part infographic on crime patterns in Columbia along with feature-sized photos.

Noelker first presented the idea in his platform to run for editor-in-chief during the 2013 spring semester.

Noelker said he made the decision with both editorial and financial factors in mind. He said publishing once a week will give writers more time to delve into issues, allowing them to use resources more efficiently.

He said the financial success of the paper, though not the sole purpose of Noelker's vision, was a major consideration in the decision-making process.

"Print revenue couldn't keep up," Noelker said. "If we didn't decline, we definitely stagnated. We started looking at a way to get more revenue."

Print ads generate more revenue, but a printed newspaper, with all of its physical pages, is more expensive to produce, Noelker said. Online content is cheaper to maintain but struggles to catch up with the revenue gap of advertisements.

Noelker said last year's online and print readership of The Maneater were similar.

The newspaper sells advertising space in the form of both print and online advertisements. Noelker said he sees it as a new challenge for the advertising team to work on sponsored content and online ads.

"Most of our ads are combination print and online,"  The Maneater's publications coordinator Becky Diehl said. "We have both banner ads and cubed ads, which rotate. Our online page has more hits, more traffic. It will lead to more revenue."

The Maneater is still a campus-centric, student-focused paper, and local Columbia businesses that target students will be on the radar for advertising.

"The future is bright," Diehl said. "Advertisers are excited. Staff is ready for a change, and it's just part of moving with the times."

Noelker previously served as the online development editor, a position now held by Tim Tai.

Tai said he wants to help bring the newspaper's online presence even further forward by focusing on special Web features and packages, which would be available both exclusively online and in conjunction with print packages.

"Our goal is to provide more quality content in print as well as online," Tai said. "A risk would be not getting enough revenue to sustain ourselves as a paper. The success would be in finding this is a sustainable model."

Noelker said for better or for worse, The Maneater keeps changing.

"It's a little bit of a leap of faith," Noelker said. "We want to jump with a bit of a safety net — to get ahead of the curve."

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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