If you had been on the University of Minnesota campus in early March 2020, you might have picked up what might be considered a collectible today.
As the campus (and the rest of the world) closed and went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota Daily suspended print publication, announcing that there would be no physical edition of the student newspaper. until in-person classes resume.
Students have since returned to class, but not the ink-on-paper version of The Daily.
As previously reported in Racket, the newspaper’s management has decided not to resume regular print publication. As the Racket article put it, “The print edition of the Daily was quietly suppressed, never to return.”
This meant that the last regular issue of the Daily, which began publication in 1900, was published in early March 2020.
The last copy of the article collected by the Minnesota Historical Society is dated March 2, 2020. An article on the front page of this article – with an apparent typo in the title – announces “COVID-9 forces U to cancel programs abroad”.
The copy is somewhat of a rarity because at the time so few of them were printed.
The Daily was once printed five times a week, with a daily circulation at one point reaching nearly 30,000 copies. But the paper was not immune to the headwinds facing print media around the world.
In 2020, the newspaper was only published on Mondays and Thursdays. Only about 5,000 copies at a time were distributed to the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, and half or more of the newspapers printed were not picked up, according to Charlie Weaver, the newspaper’s executive director and co-publisher.
Weaver said the paper’s own market research showed more than 80% of campus didn’t know the Daily existed.
“There were loads of copies that weren’t touched, fairly regularly,” said JD Duggan, former reporter and editor of The Daily.
It cost $180,000 a year to print and distribute the newspaper, a cost not nearly covered by the advertisements sold in the print product. As the pandemic continued, the newspaper’s management decided that the Daily would continue to be a digital-only publication.
“Printing at a loss is irresponsible,” Weaver said. “The Minnesota Daily made the best budget decision at the time.”
Going online only meant that the money and staff time used to produce the printed paper could help improve the digital product, Weaver said. He said the paper’s online consumption is growing thanks to recent access to the university’s email directory, which means the paper can send out an email newsletter five days a week to thousands of students. , staff and even alumni.
“This is our new journal,” Weaver said. He said that on average, more than 20,000 of these daily email newsletters are opened every day.
“The Daily is on the edge of an upward trendline,” he said.
Weaver said the Daily will continue to produce special-edition print products. They provide for a printed electoral guide, an orientation edition and an end-of-studies edition.
Some former and current student journalists mourn the loss of a printed daily.
“I think we’ve lost some of the prestige and some of the legacy,” said Jasmine Snow, a student journalist at U.
“I think a lot of people are getting very nostalgic,” said Drew Geraets, a former Daily and current chairman of the newspaper’s board.
But many current students view the environmental cost of printing, delivering and then disposing of a printed product as wasteful when they would rather the information be sent to their phone, according to Maia Irvin, the current editor of the Daily.
“I think the future of the industry has to be digital,” Irvin said.