An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Contact Information
Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.
1401 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

[email protected]

The Texan: Crisis To Recovery in 12 Months

The Media Committee of Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc. has released a detailed approach outlining a path to profitability for The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media, both in the midst of a financial crisis.

The report outlines 66 specific revenue ideas that can be implemented for little or no cash outlay, plus a variety of additional changes suggested as The Texan attempts to build a viable business model for transitioning to digital delivery.


The cover page is immediately below, followed by text of the full report:

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 5.36.00 PM


  1. About This Report
  2. Before Proceeding, Ponder …
  3. Executive Summary
  4. Financial Summary
  5. Revenue Realities – Digital and Print
  6. Impact of Quality Reduction
  7. Impact of Print Cutbacks
  8. Audience – Digital and Print
  9. Marketing and Market
  10. State of the Website
  11. Feasibility of Success?
  12. Goals and Operating Principles
  13. Infrastructure / Vendors / The Student Experience
  14. Archives / Funding
  15. Training
  16. Immediate Revenue Opportunities
  17. Longer-Term Revenue Opportunities
  18. Collaboration and Roles
  19. Summary
  20. Authors and Contributors


About This Report

In 1900 there was no UT Tower, no gigantic football stadium, no crowds of students.

Just the Longhorn Band, and The Texan.

Within 13 years, the students demanded more from The Texan, and In April of 1913 voted 986-47 for The Texan to become The Daily Texan. On Sept. 24, 1913, The Daily Texan – a six-day-a-week newspaper – was born.

Proudly, The Daily Texan declared itself the first college daily in the South.

Through the years, it has turned out ten Pulitzer Prize winners and thousands of alumni who have had distinguished careers in the fields of media, law, politics, communications and many other disciplines.

People like Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, Willie Morris, Ronnie Dugger and Karen Elliott House made their mark at The Daily Texan, showing not just politicians, educators and University students the power of the written word, but learning first-hand, building their skills and confidence, and launching their careers from The Texan.

Today The Texan is in trouble, and its future in doubt.

A “fight for its life” may sound melodramatic.

Will The Texan die? Certainly not. For a part of UT Austin would die with it.

Will the Texan end up as just another website, “parked” on the web, with no revenue, no resources, no multi-platform strategy? But still “alive” as a shell of its former grandeur. Certainly that is one scenario.

The financial situation is grim, and getting worse because corrective actions have not been instituted.

The professional newspaper industry has dealt with sweeping changes since 2008, tens of thousands of job losses and free-falling profit margins.

Changing reader habits, particularly with the younger demographic, are at the core of the problem.

But The Texan and TSM crisis cannot simply be blamed on changes that have swept the newspaper industry. Professional papers, in fact, have faced even more challenging issues, such as legacy pension fund costs and debt driven by acquisitions that looked much better in a stronger economic climate. But the newspaper industry overall is solving its economic woes through hard work, innovation and persistence.

Today’s situation goes deeper than “industry trends.” The industry, in fact, is today more positive than any time in recent years about the outlook.

Professional publishers – 458 surveyed by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri – last week indicated in the just-released Publishers Confidence Index that 65 percent are confident about the future of the newspaper business, and 62 percent do not expect a time when they do not publish a print product.

And 90 percent expected year-over-year digital growth.

It may be argued that The Texan and TSM face a situation that is more desirable than the professional industry: a clearly defined audience base on the UT campus, therefore no need to fret and worry about who The Texan should try to reach; a clear understanding of media delivery wishes of the demographic on the campus; and a “free” circulation base that guarantees whatever print audience TSM defines. In addition, digital media provides a way to connect with a broader universe of readers.

And, due to the heritage of The Texan, there is a strong historical reputation. Not to mention a captive audience. Any industry newspaper would welcome that set of circumstances.

In this report, the only reason we will dissect any of the issues that placed The Texan in this dire situation is to suggest solutions.

The alumni group’s concern is that after The Texan’s financial challenges first became public a year ago, it is difficult to point to any tangible progress over the past 12 months. The situation continues to deteriorate.

A “sense of urgency,” a phrase that has been batted round the industry repeatedly in recent years, has been missing, but is clearly there now among all parties.

There is discussion of endowments, discussion of how much remains in the reserve fund.

But is there discussion about making The Texan profitable?  It can be done, in the coming 12 months. And it’s not rocket science.

Clearly the revolving door among professional management, with five directors in six years has been a challenge. Therefore, there’s not depth of either Texan experience or newspaper publishing expertise among the professional staff. This, too, adds to the issue.

So, what next, and what will we discuss in this report?

Since the industry went into free-fall in 2008, most newspapers have turned their attention to digital to focus on building a new base of revenue. Very, very few have made significant print cuts. And almost none rely solely on digital for all revenue, and generally those newspapers are new, web-only creations.

Even if TSM made a viable argument to cut print, we believe it is fatal in the scenario that has evolved in recent years at UT.

While print continues to decline at The Texan, digital is not yet capable of filling the gap, even in a small way. Audience and revenue for the website are poor.

For those of us who have worked in the digital news business for a decade or longer, even a cursory review of digital business opportunities at The Texan and the site overall indicates a site and business model more akin to 2004 – when digital was an afterthought, with no focus or goals because print was king. No blame for anyone on this; this is typical of what happened in the industry overall. But The Texan needs to catch up.

The focus on print was logical in 2004, but after the crash of 2008 in the industry, digital began to get more than just minimal notice from most media companies. Today, most newspapers – but not all – are taking digital seriously, and benefitting financially.

However, today at The Texan there is not a clear business path to digital. That can be resolved with planning, and we are willing to assist.

At The Texan, over the last five years, digital ad revenue has fluctuated between 2 and 4 percent of total ad revenue, with real-dollar decreases several of those years. Almost all newspapers are working toward a 20 percent digital ad revenue figure today, and some newspapers are at 50 percent or more ad revenue from digital.

At The Texan digital revenue combined with a weekly Texan is not a viable option.

For those of us on this committee who work to transition media sites to a strong digital future, it is counter to every bone in our body to argue to preserve print at all costs, at least for the foreseeable future. But we do because cutting print at this time when digital is unprepared to truly assist is a death sentence for The Texan.

In this environment, the Texas Student Media board is now discussing what to do – cut to weekly print, cut more salaries, or other options.

The Texan and TSM face two critical issues – rebuilding its lagging print base which should be producing more revenue than it currently produces; and building a solid digital product that can step forward and provide much-needed revenue.

A year ago the Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc. was formed to assist. It is made up of Texan alumni and other supporters. Only recently has TSM started to respond to offers of help. We’d like TSM to be even more open to a dialogue to the alumni group, made up of many individuals who work in the media industry daily.

This report is intended to provide real world, actionable suggestions and guidance to assist The Texan in becoming profitable within the next 12 months.

The alumni group will work with TSM as desired, with the only requirement be that the work be approached with a true sense of urgency that befits the situation, and that deliverables be defined, committed to and all-out efforts be taken to meet those goals.

This report will explain the value of a true multi-platform publishing approach.

It will reiterate and explain the reality of what newspapers have learned in recent years:  you can’t cut your way to success.

The Friends group stands ready to assist in working to rebuild print dollars, building a digital operation that is profitable and reliable and helping The Daily Texan become profitable in 2015.

Too much time has been lost.

There is no more time to waste.


“The Daily Texan: From Crisis To Recovery in 12 Months”

Prepared by the Media Committee

Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.


Submitted / Published March 7, 2014

Copyright, Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc. – 2014



Before Proceeding, Ponder …

Today TSM is in the midst of a changing media landscape for which it is not prepared. There is no shame in that; the industry itself went through that situation just six years ago.

Today, most newspapers are once again profitable.

In most cases, they are not the profits recorded in those last solid years – 2005-2007 – when publishers were either returning or striving for 30 percent-plus margins.

Today, a high single-digit profit margin is considered more than acceptable, though high teens and above are not uncommon.

Those profits were gained on the back of overwhelming disruption in the industry – layoffs, cutbacks, closings and unpleasant but necessary cuts made because most publishers were not accustomed to operating in crisis mode.

As the industry recovers from those situations, the “smart” papers are looking for the silver lining, and building for the future, remembering the not-too-distant past, vowing not to be caught off guard again.

The ability to cut expenses is what saved many papers after the collapse of 2008. Now the cuts have been made everywhere – including The Daily Texan – and further cuts at newspapers, and TSM, simply damage the product and offend readers and drive away site visitors. Readers have too many choices to linger with a product that does not serve their needs.

Cutting expenses is not a path to success; making money is a path to success.

Making money is not just possible, but expected, in today’s industry.

We hear lot about when the reserve runs out and how an endowment would keep things going.

We propose a different discussion: “Let’s work hard, do things differently, get focused, learn what we can about the industry from others who have successfully implemented change. Let’s set two key goals. First, let’s create and implement a digital strategy that leads to a viable digital product. Second, let’s commit to making The Texan profitable within 12 months.”

Those two items can take place side by side over the next 12 months, and we are ready to help.
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”    – Andy Warhol

“Change before you have to.”   – Jack Welch

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”    – George Santayana

“In the end, everybody survives (to some degree).  – Media industry analyst Gordon Borrell


Executive Summary

This section of the report is provided as an overview, with key items listed in bullet form. To understand the issues facing The Daily Texan  – and understanding is the first step to turning around the situation – it is essential that you read this entire document. All of the items covered in the list below are backed up and supported in detail elsewhere in this document.

• At its core, this crisis is primarily a revenue problem. Advertising revenue has been declining at least 15-20 percent a year for the past few years. (See page 8.)

• The TSM/Texan advertising revenue drops far outpace the newspaper industry overall, which is at 6 percent, a quarter of the TSM decline. (See page 9.)

• Even with the bleak picture facing TSM and The Texan, this committee feels it is possible within a year to generate new revenues of $300,000 from ideas in this report, including:

• additional digital products (See pages 19 to 22.)

• creative print advertising approaches (See pages 19 to 22, 23 to 29.)

• audience-building circulation ideas. (See pages 22 to 29.)

bridge funding from Friends of The Daily Texan (See pages 17 to 18.)

• With an enhanced five-day-a-week Daily Texan providing the bulk of TSM’s revenues, TSM can better prepare for its inevitable digital future without a sense of panic.

• Improved digital tools and training and improvements to infrastructure are essential. The positive aspect of this statement is that digital improvements can be made for very little cost, and in some cases via partnerships and revenue-sharing arrangements. (See pages 16 and 18.)

• All options to increase revenue should be reviewed and specifically implemented, modified or set aside for further consideration in the future. Strategic alliances with other media outlets to increase advertising sales should be prioritized.

• With an increased sense of urgency and quick response in dealing with this crisis, TSM can effect a smooth transfer of supervision from the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs to the Moody College of Communication. (See pages 11 to 12, 30 to 31.)

• This committee believes that with application of ideas from this report – in an intense and focused effort – that TSM and The Texan can be profitable by March 1, 2015.


Financial Summary

To better understand what must occur, it is necessary to at least have a general understanding of the financial challenges facing the TSM and The Daily Texan.

Remembering that this document is prepared without TSM participation, it is best to direct those who want to dig deeper to TSM minutes or other sources.

But for the purpose of this report, here are a few over-arching items obtained from TSM discussions and documents reviewed at board meetings:

• TSM is projected to lose about $239,000 this year.

• Approximately $600,000 remains at this point in the TSM Reserve, minus a committed $50,000 for a broadcast project, so the reserve is $550,000.

• Cutting student wages and reducing to weekly publication are under consideration though many alumni and others question whether cutting print is wise because the digital product is weak business-wise, and a print cut would also be a revenue cut. Real-world experiences show that advertisers will not migrate to the remaining publication day option that is proposed.

• Industry studies show that small/medium business owners – which should be the bread and butter of Texan revenue – are besieged by 35-40 advertising pitches a month. Texan advertisers will accept those competitors’ offers before allowing TSM to tell them when they must advertise.

• Filling two vacant professional positions is included in the budget.  Filling any vacant position is generally a “no” in the industry until papers regain their footing.

• Advertising revenue for 2011-2012 was $1,414,577. It declined by $279,582 to $1,134,995 in 2012-2013, a drop of 20 percent in actuals. Budget was $1,501,000, and actuals were about $400,000 off budget.

• Advertising revenue is budgeted to be $1,280,600 in 2013-2014.  Current projection is $960,450. That is a drop of $320,000 from budget in one year.

• Advertising revenue projection for 2014-2015 is $900,000.

• Digital clearly gets little attention, either in the budget or in actual sales.  The 2 to 4 percent digital revenue total is likely walk-in or agency business, not local sales emphasis.

• With all due respect to TSM professionals, a budget approach that accepts such a rapid and precipitous decline of continuing revenue goals would be rejected by any newspaper publisher, and the vice president, director or manager who advocated the idea would be told to come back with a plan to increase revenue. To operate with substantial scheduled and budgeted revenue declines lowers the bar for success, and hastens the decline of a paper. Newspapers are not digging their way out of their economic crisis by accepting lower revenue standards.


Revenue Realities – Digital and Print

At TSM, advertising revenue decline is at a 20 percent rate year over year.

In the industry overall, advertising revenue is at a 6 percent rate of decline, year over year, looking at latest figures at end of 2012, from the Newspaper Association of America.

Overall, total revenue for U.S. newspapers declined by 2 percent in 2012 from a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Newspaper Association of America.

The industry is close to break-even in stemming the decline; TSM is still challenged with 20 percent plus annual revenue declines.

Print advertising still accounts for 85 percent of ad revenue at newspapers nationally.

The 15 percent digital ad revenue figure grows each year, with most newspapers setting goals of 20 percent or higher, and attaining those goals. In the past five years, The Texan has brought in 2 to 4 percent of its ad revenue from digital.

Digital is clearly a missed opportunity, and has been for several years. But it remains still a major opportunity for TSM.


Impact of Quality Reduction

Anyone who has been hands-on over the last six years in the newspaper management business knows that ultimately there is a price to pay for continual cutbacks.  Certainly cutbacks have been needed to reach survivability status, but there is a cost.

Readers have so many content options available that there is a challenge to brand loyalty, especially if that brands decreases its availability and quality.

A just-released report from the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri stresses that there must be a delicate, well-balanced strategy to any cuts, or there is a likelihood of damaging long-term survivability of a newspaper.

Cuts to newsroom staffing (not an issue for The Texan) and distribution (an issue for The Texan if print is cut) are singled out as biggest concerns.


Excepts from the report:

“Faced with a crisis in the newspaper business, many newspapers are cutting costs. In fact, research has found that three-fourths of all newspapers have cut 10 percent or more of their newsrooms. The authors analyzed how cuts in news, distribution, and advertising departments affected total revenues and profits. The analysis was based on 1999 Inland Press Association data from 327 newspapers under 85,000 daily circulation.

“Among the findings:

  1. Newsroom cuts are the most costly on revenues. A one percent cut in newsroom expenditures led to a .44 percent drop in revenue. A one percent cut in the ad sales force led to a revenue drop of .24 percent. A one percent cut in the distribution force led to a .08 percent drop in revenue. In dollar amounts, the picture is even more clear. Data from small newspapers with an average circulation of 13,000 showed that a 1 percent cut in the newsroom reduced expenses about $10,000 but led to a revenue drop of $23,000 and a profit decline of $3,000. A 1 percent cut in advertising sales force reduced expenses by $8,000 but led to a revenue drop of $12,500 and a profit decline of $600. Finally, a 1 percent cut in the distribution department reduced expenses by $6,400 but led to a $4,000 drop in revenues, while showing a slight gain in profits.
  2. The bigger the cuts, the impact on revenues gets progressively worse. For example, a 10 percent cut in newsroom expenditures led to a 5 percent drop in subscription revenues, while a 50 percent cut in newsroom expenditures led to a 30 percent drop in subscription revenues.
  3. Newsroom cuts are the most costly on profits. A 5 percent cut in news expenses led to a 1 percent drop in profits, while a 5 percent cut in advertising department budgets led to a .3 percent cut in profits. A 5 percent cut in distribution budgets led to a .2 percent drop in profits. Similarly, a 50 percent cut in newsroom expenses led to a nearly 40 percent drop in profits, compared to a 22 percent drop in profits if the advertising department faced a 50 percent cut.”

This report’s conclusion: consider cuts only if armed with strong analysis and conclusive data.


Impact of Print Cutbacks

At one point, The Texan dominated the UT campus, distributing 30,000 plus papers seven days a week.

Now, that domination is no longer there, and the place in the market has to be earned.

Today, the press run is 12,000, and weekly distribution is being considered.

What happens when you cut print distribution?

First, there is no proof that it helps long-term viability unless you do it to achieve major newsroom and other staffing cuts; it is only a Band-Aid for a brief period.

Second, you never do it unless you have a terrific web product.

Third, there are few examples to follow, and deciding to experiment with the idea is not wise, unless you have cash reserves to deal with unexpected consequences.

There is one real-world example: the Advance cutbacks at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, reducing print publication to three times a week. (Readers should understand there are additional caveats and numerous additional publication days – the Mondays after a Saints game, for example.)

At the Key Executive Mega-Conference in 2013 in New Orleans two sessions were held on the cutback topic: Times-Picayune executives explained their reasoning, and CEOs from Berkshire-Hathaway Media and The Dallas Morning News in a separate session explained why they would not take that approach. Their point was primarily multi-platform publishing opportunities and branding and marketing advantages.

It’s not even accurate to say that the jury is still out. No other companies have made similar significant cuts since the New Orleans experiment began.

It is also notable that Advance made this move to bring about significant staff reduction in the newsroom, letting go 84 of 171 people. That is not a cost-savings area for The Texan.


From the Pew Report on State of the Media 2013:

In May 2012, Advance Publications announced that The Times-Picayune would shift to three-day-a-week publication in the fall, making New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily print newspaper.

Advance portrayed the move as a way to get ahead of the curve of shifting audience preferences, save money on a legacy pressroom, paper and delivery costs, and make the website — on various platforms — the focus of its news and business-growing efforts. The change was necessary for long-term survival, executives said.

It was met, though, with loud and long howls of protest from news staff, elected officials and loyal print readers.  Industry critics including Newspaper Association of America chairman James Moroney, publisher of The Dallas Morning News, said the move sent all the wrong signals for an industry battling image problems. Revenue losses could easily end up greater than savings, opening the market to competition from local TV web sites and others, the critics said, adding that, at a fundamental level, Advance seemed to be saying to print readers, “You don’t need us every day” — at a time when 85% of industry ad revenues remain in print.


Audience – Digital and Print

Aside from the revenue issues outlined, there are other deep issues underlying the problems facing The Texan.

Audience – print and digital – is at the top of the list.

Without substantial audience for both areas, advertisers are leery about purchasing.

And the audience is so limited that if the advertisers who do take a chance receive no results, the problem only compounds itself.

Currently The Texan press run is about 12,000, and likely around 25 percent of the copies are not picked up and then later are recycled, leaving a print distribution of around 9,000.

UT Austin has about 52,000 students and 24,000 employees and staff.

The print circulation of 9,000 compared to 76,000 people on campus is clearly weak. To cut print at this stage would diminish it even further, and run off the few remaining advertisers.

The Texan website illustrates all of the symptoms of a site that has not been top-of-mind, and therefore has these issues:

• high bounce rate, meaning site visitors don’t stay, but come in, then leave after a single page view

• very low pageview and unique visitors numbers

• most visitors are from out-of-town, and of no interest to advertisers

• time spent on site is low, just over a minute, meaning no one navigates around

• unstable site and infrastructure, a problem for a number of years; a recent popular story brought the site down with only about 400 concurrent users

An audience-building campaign – print and digital – is imperative, and this DOES NOT mean spending money. It means focus and ideas and quick implementation.

All – including student editors – should be involved in such an effort, and goals must be set and met.

This could also provide opportunities for academic options for the Moody College of Communication – teaching the digital leaders of tomorrow.


Marketing and Market

Based on some of the dire situations outlined in this report, some might think:  Let’s expand our market, go out and get new advertisers from beyond UT and grow.

Getting business from beyond the 40 Acres (a good idea) and expanding your market (a bad idea) are two different things. The first is focused on cherry-picking advertisers for your benefit. The second is focused on spreading yourself too thin and not doing anything very well as a result, further depleting your cash.

We would doubt that is under serious consideration, but as a precautionary comment, this committee believes such a move would just hasten the demise of TSM and The Texan due to the expense, and lack of focus on your existing market, which is a very strong demographic mix.

TSM and The Texan should “own” what is an outstanding market – a captive audience of 75,000-plus people. TSM has the potential audience and multiple advertising options that should be attractive to small-medium businesses.


State of the Website

The Daily Texan website is clean, easily navigable and has a reasonable amount of fresh content, and coverage pulled over from the print paper, plus breaking and refreshed web-first news.

It’s a very admirable effort and a nice product.

So why the low traffic, high bounce rate, poor time-on-site and lack of ads (three counted total on a recent day)?

A news website is a convergence of many factors, and they all have to work together, with one prime goal – building audience.

Audience is everything, and you can obtain it several ways: buy it (not feasible or logical for The Texan), obtain it through search (whatever happens is good, but this is not valuable audience for local sales) or build it.

A good news site cannot make it on news alone.

A few quick suggestions, because this is a much broader topic that needs serious, separate exploration:

• The lack of ads makes it appear that the site is not a serious site and that no effort is being made to sell it. Advertising is content, too, and that content is missing.

• The near-absence of ads also indicates that missing is a network or remnant program to fill unsold local inventory. This is money that is being passed up every month.   Every potential ad position on the site should be enabled and filled, and every page should have four 300 x 250 ads and a leaderboard or mini-leaderboard.  If Advertising can not sell them, fill with remnant inventory, which can be high quality, but low dollars….but far more than what is coming in now via local sales. If site audience is so low that a traditional network has no interest in The Texan, sell long-term local network ads at low cost to fill the site and bring in revenue.

• Editorially, the site needs to be refreshed more often. Even if nothing much has happened during the day, content should be moved around and emphasis changed, so the site at least looks different to visitors.

• Social media should be used not just as a news vehicle, but as an audience-building tool.

• The site should be updated more frequently all the time, including the weekend. Keep an eye on the time stamps on each story, and make sure that above the fold stories are not several days old.

• Falling back on a word from the early web, there is little that is “sticky” that holds you there, then drives you around the site to more content.

• Part of the annual strategy discussions for editorial and TSM should be establishment of audience goals for the site.

• With monthly pageviews in the low 100,000s, there is little chance of selling by CPM, and there should be a wide variety of sponsorship options and flat-rate options, with sold ads on every page.

• Does the commission and payment structure of sales people encourage them to sell for the web? Newspapers sometime wrestle with this issue, and this site has the look of a site that has not resolved how to encourage sales people to sell digital programs.


Feasibility of Success

The last portion of this report contains actionable items that we propose for TSM consideration and implementation.

Are you able to, and can you do all of the suggestions listed in different chapters that follow?  Yes.

Are we saying TSM should do all of the suggestions? No. But every idea has value, and should be considered, and prioritized, or rejected.

Every idea has revenue behind the suggestion. And this group is available for brainstorming on specific ideas and approaches.

Those of us involved in this report work with media companies of all sizes and categories, and we have experience in understanding what can be achieved by different staff sizes and numbers.

And these ideas fit the size and staffing of a company the size of TSM and The Texan.

Do any of these ideas require cash outlay, because money is tight?  Very, very few require ANY cash outlay, and those that do require minimal cash have substantial return. Friends of The Daily Texan already has a commitment to fund one ongoing source of revenue if TSM will work with us to finalize.

Here’s a real-word, do-able example: Set as a goal a quick implementation of a mobile app which serves as a geo-focused guide to the UT campus and surrounding business community.  Acquire the app from a local company, likely with an implementation fee of $750 and monthly hosting fee of $500 month for 12 months. Total annual cost: $6,750.  Total sales likelihood on a campus like UT – $80,000 a year. This is NOT a made-up example; this is a common and real approach in place and available now.

So, yes, feasibility of success is high, and depends solely on how TSM decides to proceed and its success in mobilizing and acting quickly. And could offer another opportunity for collaboration with the Moody College of Communication and its staff.


Goals and Operating Principles

Due to the nature of journalism and staffing at a college newspaper, there is frequent turnover. Students arrive, may spend several years at the paper, then graduate.

There also has been turnover among the professional staff.

Is there a statement and guideline for the purpose of The Texan, and operating principles that apply to The Texan and TSM?

Is there a need?

We would say yes.

For new professional employees, for new staff members there should be a statement of reason, for why the paper and its website exist, and what are the goals of the operation.

The statements below are simply for illustration.


Statement of Mission

Our goal is for The Daily Texan and its publishing platforms – print and digital – to be the dominant media force in the University of Texas community, providing clear, concise and current news, information and advertising content for our print and site audience and customers. Building on strength, integrity and history of our print product, we will bring that same mission to online, but also expand it to offer innovative and creative web content, recognizing that digital is a different medium.

Our advertising offerings will embrace print and digital opportunities that best serve our advertisers and our audience members. Our focus on news and advertising content, due to the quality of our presentation, should attract visitors to our products, but we will always be cognizant of marketing opportunities, and other efforts to increase audience for both print and digital.

We will constantly evaluate the utility, functionality and design of our newspaper and website to provide a comfortable yet exciting destination for our audience.


Operating Principles

Each day we will focus on how to make our products the dominant information and advertising offerings available to the UT community.

A key goal is to provide clear and accurate information as quickly as possible to our digital visitors. We will provide that content in a variety of formats, and view our web site as another means of communicating with readers, in addition to our print products.

We will provide content to our web site not only from our print product, but will offer innovative and imaginative digital offerings that make our site a must-visit for our readers.

Equally important as news content is advertising content. Our customers should look to our digital and print products as a central marketplace for their shopping needs.

We will be innovative and creative with our digital offerings, but we will not stray into the same issues that plagued newspapers in the early years of their digital evolution. We won’t do something online just because it can be done. We will think through what we do and why we do it.

We will always keep the demographics of our community in mind.

We will practice fiscal responsibility, and think about all cost issues related to our efforts, whether they are obvious or hidden costs.

One of our keys goals is to grow the audience and revenue.

We need to work as a team, with frequent communications.

And, lastly, we need to always think of our three key goals:

• Provide quality, innovative, fresh and unique web content;

• Serve as the digital marketplace for our community;

• Be strident in working to grow our audience for print and digital products.

Infrastructure / Vendors / The Student Experience

Recently The Texan website suffered a multi-hour outage due to traffic from a single popular story. Initial reports show there were 400 concurrent users at the time attempting to read the story.

TSM can better speak to the details and data around the incident, but it does show continuing problems exist surrounding the infrastructure.

Regardless of whether UT ITS continues to host the website, whether it is self-hosted or whether a vendor hosts it, there are several requirements that any newspaper insists upon:

• Guaranteed uptime of 99 percent plus (your call on the decimal point) on a monthly basis. In the professional world there are financial penalties if that requirement is not met, but we’d assume that is not the likely approach in the university environment.

• A Service Level Agreement should be in place, even if the site is internally hosted by UT ITS. Within large companies, the IT departments offer an SLA to the company’s business units. An SLA is an agreement on type of service, defining requirements that both parties accept about functionality and service of the site.

• An escalation process regarding any issues must be in place.

• A reporting process must be in place to allow review of any problems.

A media website must be fully functional and constantly available to the public, especially in high traffic times.

The vendor marketplace has become very competitive in recent years and numerous vendors are now catering to small and medium sized papers and college papers. These vendors provide at a very reasonable cost multi-platform systems that provide a variety of publishing tools – content management system, site hosting, ad serving system and serving tools, built-in metrics tools, social media tools, e-newsletter tools, mobile and tablet tools, etc. These are very affordable, and are tailored toward newspaper and media companies, with support and functionality focusing on that specific area.

This also raises the overall question of the vendor vetting process and looking for the right tools and products at the right price – or no cost – to support The Texan from a content and revenue-building standpoint.

Many media partners now offer revenue sharing agreements as part of use of the products and tools. There also is very strong competition for digital business, and more tools and product available, and more coming on line every year.

The alumni group includes several people who work with the media vendor field and attend media conferences focusing on digital developments, and would offer guidance if requested by TSM.

The above discussion by no means intends to restrict student learning or development of tools, including building mobile apps or other products as a part of the learning and educational process. We encourage that approach.

This vendor discussion deals with the deeper issues of infrastructure and the availability of products beyond what students might choose to build.


Archives / Funding

The Texan has a rich history dating to 1900, yet none of the paper’s content is available in digital form to students, educators, historians or the general public.

In the 1970s and 80s newspapers converted from a production cycle that once included typewriters and hot type, to typewriters and scanners, then ultimately to typesetting machines, then computers, which produced digital content stored in a central database.

As The Texan switched publishing platforms and made technological changes, it appears that available digital content was either lost or misplaced, not surviving server replacements and changes in storage location.

Two years ago TSM took steps to make Texan copy available digitally by signing a contract with vendor NewsBank, the leading firm in the digital distribution area for both the educational and media sectors.

Therefore, the past 18 months-plus of Daily Texan content has been digitized. NewsBank scans the website daily to collect the content, so there is no effort required by TSM, such as feed compilation, to provide the content. The content is distributed by NewsBank and resold and revenue is shared with The Texan. Most newspapers have a splash page on their site to also offer the content to the public, but that is not in place on The Texan. At this point that is not crucial since only 18 months of content is digitized.

As part of TSM’s arrangement with NewsBank, content from The Texan is digitized daily, an arrangement that carries no cost, and returns revenue. That will preserve The Texan from the start of the arrangement 18 months ago and ultimately lead to increased revenue as more content becomes available.

Another way to make more content available is to add Texan issues before 2012. The issue is the content back to the origins of The Texan, and how it becomes digitized.

To have the entire history of The Texan available in digital form would be a plus for everyone, and provide another revenue source.

To do that, NewsBank would take all existing rolls of microfilm (which likely go back at least 60 years) plus all bound copies of The Texan (which go back further) and convert to digitized content. There is a cost for this, and it cannot be determined until there is knowledge of the number of rolls of microfilm and the number of bound books.

The Friends group several months ago raised an offer to TSM to fund digitization of all content of The Daily Texan. NewsBank has reached out to discuss. Next step is for TSM to provide info on the volume of microfilm and bound copies to NewsBank, and a cost proposal will be provided.

If all parties agree, the Friends would fund the one-time project via a potential donor or fund-raising campaign.

At end of the digitization project, all of The Texan content would be preserved, and all new content would be added to the repository. NewsBank has just completed a similar project at Northwestern University.

The Texan would have a continuing revenue source and also continuing preservation of content important to the University community.

A caution that this is not a huge sum of money, but it is still a significant amount, and every dollar counts.

To start the revenue flow, first NewsBank needs the full history of The Texan digitized. NewsBank could then promote the content to its customers.

The Texan and TSM should then put a splash page on its website (NewsBank will build it and supply at no cost) to promote sales of the content.

The amount of money earned depends on how well TSM does in getting the word out to potential customers.

Papers who do well with selling content market it in print and digital products, on a continuing basis. TSM could reach out through the Texas Exes to help promote. Any ex-student is a candidate to purchase content from their era.

One Friends member has worked with 60 Cox and other papers on such projects and has volunteered to manage this project on TSM’s behalf.

Summing up, there is no cost to TSM, The Texan history will be preserved for perpetuity and there will be continuing no-effort revenue as a result.

We urge TSM to move forward with the alumni group on this project.

In addition to this project, the Friends of the Daily Texan are requesting to open a dialogue with TSM concerning potential bridge funding assistance from the alumni group.



The most important point we should say in such a small amount of space is the necessity of having a training plan – for students and for professional staff. In addition, there should be a formalized mentoring plan.

Is there a training plan for ad sales people so they better understand digital?

This does not have to be complicated or even cost anything.

A simple in-house document or PowerPoint explaining key issues and value points of digital sales would be sufficient, at first pass, for all sales people.

Customer service, follow-up and response is always a good topic of discussion and education.

One Friends member recently waited almost two weeks for response to an online request to the sales department to place an ad on behalf of a client.

One suggestion from a multiplatform journalist at a large metro paper: Digital training needs to consist of the basic rules of journalism, including reporting, sourcing, writing, editing and libel are concerned, with a special emphasis on connecting with an audience through as many forms as possible, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other electronic forum that is appropriate.

Connection with an audience doesn’t stop when the story is published. Then come the comments. Reporters need to pay attention to the comment streams beneath their stories and jump in when appropriate — for instance, to correct a commenter’s error or to thank a commenter for pointing out a mistake. A reporter’s presence in a comment stream can civilize a dialogue that may be running off the rails.

The Daily Texan sits on a large university campus. All we need say is that a training program for all TSM and Texan staffers be a part of the plan, especially due to the significant turnover in students and staff.


Immediate Revenue Opportunities

Each one of the items below is a clear and distinct proposed action item for TSM and Texan review. As an earlier chapter, “Feasibility of Success,” notes, these are not cash-intensive or time-intensive. Most require no cash outlay. They require dedication focus, hard work and setting and attaining higher goals, which is the normal process at newspapers that are successfully recovering from the industry crash and moving forward.

Note: EVERYTHING listed below will create new or expanded revenue.

How much?

It depends on the sales and management effort, and also depends on audience growth, quality and all of the other issues that surround publishing a successful newspaper.

It also depends on how quickly the an energized process starts.

There is no expectation that all of these can be tackled simultaneously.

We’d recommend setting priorities, and setting a focus and goal.

As experts in the turnaround field of this industry, we’re frequently pressed on what to expect financially.

So, again, how much?

Properly executed, and moving quickly with energy and vigor, with an “all-in” attitude, these ideas can easily generate an additional $300,000 between now and March 1.

No time to waste.



Really? More Ads? This sounds incredibly obvious, but the very few ads that appear online and in print definitely send a message, “Not very many people advertise in these publications, digital and print. So why should I?” Aside from the reality of needing the revenue, this “few ad” situation needs to be fixed immediately, to improve the perception – if not yet the reality –that The Texan is a viable advertising option. See next item.

More ad positions on the website: It appears only three ad positions are enabled on the website templates – two 300x250s and one mini-leaderboard. This number should be at least six, and it still won’t look overdone as far as advertising versus content. Add two 300 x 250s in the right rail, and a leaderboard or mini-leaderboard at bottom of the page. Six ad positions.  Sell them all, local sales or remnant.

Fill digital ad spots immediately: If they cannot immediately be sold locally, fill these ad positions with remnant or network inventory. If ad networks won’t provide inventory because there are so few impressions, assign the staff to sell local remnant advertising at a much-reduced rate, with a flat-rate approach on a monthly basis with no or limited copy changes.

Fill print ad holes immediately: Most newspapers these days are running at least 50 percent ad revenue and 50 percent newshole. A review of The Texan in recent days shows 3-6 ads per print edition.  Do whatever it takes to get more ads in print to build interest in The Texan as a marketplace. Consider reduced rates; buy one, get one free.  Whatever works. But double the ad count immediately.

Packaging / Forced Buys / Bundling: Most papers have moved away from this, but this situation in which both print and digital are suffering requires a stronger focus on bundling. Force the buy into print if the advertiser buys digital; force the buy into digital if they buy print. Add a surcharge for starters to buy both, to build volume.

Budgeting: Do not accept a budget plan that schedules in a decline in advertising revenue.  At a minimum, keep the ad revenue budget the same as last year.

Get Every Ad Online: Make this a focus, not just print sales.

Drag Deals: A focus on advertisers on the Drag.  Publish every week, online and in print, at a minimum. Special deals and promotion. Another approach: ” Up and Down the Drag” section tied to football games, key events. And a third variation:  A weekly “Forty Acres” supplement focusing on retail and restaurants and UT community.

Real Estate Marketplace: Focus on rentals, and near-campus sales; not a full-bore real estate channel that requires special attention and software; but a real estate marketplace that can be produced as a regular part of workflow and workday, no extra resources needed; it’s all about packaging and sales; can be a combination of classified ads and display ads from apartment complexes and individuals. Reasonable to expect the ability to produce a full page of ads one day of week with a focus on display ads, and continuing list of real-estate listings and rentals daily, half page or more.  Include agent listings, open houses, featured agents, featured complexes.

Coupons:  Easy no-cost to add; a reader-plus, some revenue, plus reader interest.  Digital and print.

Business Directory: Offer a full suite of business directory services; the old “business card” approach that is still highly profitable for digital and print; services and products that students and faculty need. Sell on 13, 26 and 52-week schedules. Little or no maintenance once done.

Classified: Market and promote, and focus on categories of interest to UT. There is money to be made.

Slide Gallery sales: Partner with a vendor who provides a slide gallery product (we can make suggestions). No cost. All profit. Slide galleries build audience and showcase photos and provide substantial revenue. Students can buy the digital file or print. Or mouse pads, t-shirts, coffee cups, etc. Promote as gifts for parents, promote to alumni. Very little effort to download photos to gallery.  Can expect $3-$5,000 a month profit (from a revenue share) if promoted and audience built around it.

Slide Gallery sponsorships: Sell sponsorships to advertisers for particular albums in the slide gallery.  Ads can run before, during or after the album. Solicit advertisers/sponsors within the slide gallery pages.

Health Services: Listings/ads for physicians, dentists, health services in the University area; sell on long-term contracts. Little or no maintenance. Print and online.

Mobile sponsorship:  Be more aggressive with mobile; both traditional mobile, and tablets; ads on all pages; if can’t sell, use remnant ads.

SMS text ads: Be aggressive in offering frequent breaking news alerts via SMS and sell sponsors.

E-newsletters: Be aggressive in producing, distributing and selling e-newsletters.  A perfect, captive audience for this and other digital products.

Existing PDF edition: Does The Texan product have advertising position options? If not, consider a different option, and sell ads for it, or sponsorship.  Where promoted on home page, sell a small sponsor ad.

UT-Austin Weather Page: Local, campus zip code weather page. No cost, from AccuWeather. They keep one ad position, you have six or more you can fill on the page with sponsor, local sales ads or remnants. Revenue and audience builder. Have weather ear and link on home page. Sell a sponsor.

Print Weather: Same vendor, a few dollars a week. Sell a sponsor. Promote it to check for forecast for football games, campus events, etc.

Events calendar: Be aggressive with a full-service, useful events calendar; builds audience; sell sponsorships.

Local video player: Local video builds audience; sell pre-roll, build audience and revenue; make it a part of almost every story.

Restaurants: An untapped opportunity for sales, content and audience; build a database of all restaurants, providing free listings, and upsell to all.

Entertainment: Review current offerings and sales opportunities.

Faith/religion directory: Create a faith directory; sell to campus places of worship; steady revenue.

Obits, anniversaries, wedding, celebrations: Are there opportunities with these categories? Perhaps not a perfect fit, but vendor options make it easy to do – and they sell the ads for you.

Pets: A sales and audience opportunity.

Historic photos: Create a presence for historic photos and content, and become very aggressive in selling photos The Texan has taken through the decades. This is a potential goldmine of revenue. This can be very significant revenue.

Local databases: UT is a treasure trove of information; are there local databases to build and post online, with sponsorships of the page?

Apps: Badly needed, for content, audience and revenue; vendor options work easily from feeds, are not labor intensive, not expensive and sales opportunities are off the chart; consider geo-specific campus info and entertainment/location app; and a news app, with categories such as sports, campus and the other areas covered by The Texan. This may cost $500-$600 a month but should turn $80,000 plus revenue a year.

Editorial Cartoons: Create a strong online presence, matched with print, for broad variety of editorial cartoons. Sell sponsorships.


Circulation Suggestions

Circulate in the dorms: Just as universities have to offer remedial math or English, they need to train students in the basics of civic involvement – reading a newspaper. The Daily Texan should be delivered into every mailbox at every dorm of the campus every day. At the same time, The Texan newsroom should beef up its coverage of dormitory life – interviews with particularly effective RAs, even menus at the cafeterias.

Newsies: The Texan should use some guerilla marketing by placing “newsboys” and “newsgirls” at the Union and the Student Activity Center, aggressively handing out copies of the newspaper with the question, “Have you read The Daily Texan today?” A similar slogan should appear in house ads.

Contests: To interact with its readership and stimulate circulation, The Daily Texan needs to conduct contests. For example, use the “Golden Ticket” idea and insert a coupon good for two UT football tickets into one copy of The Daily Texan. Of course, there would have to be a great deal of hoopla leading up to the day the coupon is inserted. A similar contest, which could rebuild the relationship with the University Co-Op, would insert a certificate worth $500 in credit at the Co-Op. Another contest idea is a “Where’s Waldo”-type event, hiding a Bevo character in one of The Daily Texan’s comic strips. The Texan should consider adding a contests editor to come up with contests, possibly one a week. It’s just as important, maybe more so, than a comics editor.

Free Classified Ads: The Daily Texan should offer free classified ads (maximum 20 words). Classified ads are a readership draw. Perhaps the ad staff could find a “sponsor” for the Classified ads to make up for lost revenue. A block at the bottom of the classified ad page could say “Classified Ads Brought to You by PDP Pharmaceutical Research” with contact information.

Free Bridal Announcements: Of course, students don’t get married like they used to. They may be way out of school before they get married, if at all. But covering those life events does grow readership, and The Texan should at least make the offer.


Combination Circulation / Advertising

Special Editions: Since Longhorn Life is apparently successful with targeted editions, The Daily Texan should add special editions, possibly an “Electronics Edition” in the fall, as Christmas shopping season begins and an “Automobile Edition” in May, as graduates consider new cars to go along with new jobs and new lives. A Valentine’s Edition seems like a natural; students may not get married, but they still do some courting, we think.

A word about Longhorn Life: It is apparent that the current Advertising Department is enthused about Longhorn Life, because selling for it does not have some of the obstacles of selling for The Daily Texan. Longhorn Life is not controversial, for example, because the professional advertising staff assigns student writers the stories in Longhorn Life and assures that the stories are “native advertising” – what used to be called “puff pieces” – for the advertisers included in the edition.

The TSM Board needs to understand that the nose of the camel (or, if you prefer, the longhorn) is in the tent. While the 2007 amendment to the trust agreement eliminated prior restraint, Longhorn Life introduces a different kind of restraint, where nonstudents select and tailor content to their own purposes. By focusing advertising resources on this product, to the detriment of The Daily Texan, TSM could be in danger of practicing indirect prior restraint.

Texan student editors should be given right-of-first-refusal on producing any special edition, including Longhorn Life, that appears in their newspaper. Creating a special edition is an important educational tool and doesn’t have to create controversy. (Cliff Avery, former editor of The Daily Texan Spring Fashion Edition, can say this with confidence.)

Commemorative Edition – LBJ Library Civil Rights Symposium: The University of Texas has events happening throughout the year, greekoftheweekand The Daily Texan has opportunities to piggyback and produce advertising-supported special sections in advance of the events. One example coming up on us fast is the LBJ Library Civil Rights Symposium. With a program including highly influential political personalities, law firms and lobbyists would be a natural and previously untapped resource for advertising.

Commemorative Edition – 100th Anniversary of the School of Journalism: Another opportunity is the 100th anniversary of the School of Journalism this fall, when newspapers and broadcasters across the state may want to purchase congratulatory advertising in a Daily Texan commemorative edition distributed before the ceremony.

Campus Construction / Infrastructure: When a campus building is opened, following construction or remodeling, there’s the opportunity to create a commemorative edition (or pages in the paper), tapping the construction company, architect and engineer for Thank-You advertising.

Greek of the Week: There’s always tension between the Greek students and The Daily Texan, but Greeks do comprise a large body of the University campus that could be targeted to increase circulation. To build readership, we suggest a weekly “Greek of the Week” advertising page that includes business-card-type ads for 18 fraternities and sororities. Each week one of the advertising organizations would be featured with a short write-up about their activities and a photo. To encourage participation, the first organization that signs up will be featured in the Orientation Edition, as the fraternities and sororities prepare for their “sales” season – rush. Once The Texan lands a few Greek organizations, others won’t want to be left out. Greek students will pick up the paper to see which organization is featured. At $80 per week per organization and a 60 percent sale ratio, the long-semester revenues would be approximately $26,000.

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Throwback Thursday Ad: The Texan currently produces a Throwback Thursday feature. Adding an advertising component would provide the opportunity to, as they say, “monetize” the idea. This will be much easier to produce once The Daily Texans archives are on-line. The media kit on the TSM website does not specify ad rates. We estimate that a weekly half page ad through the long semesters would gross $30,000.

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Pizza and the Press: To reintroduce The Daily Texan to the campus readership, make a cross-promotion arrangement with a pizza restaurant, where a complimentary Texan is delivered along with the company’s pizzas. One of the papers would include a hand-inserted certificate worth $100 of free pizzas. The pizza-chain’s discounted print ads in The Texan would include information about the promotion.

User-Generated Content: The Daily Texan editors should consider adding a digital platform for user-generated content. Allowing students to quickly and easily contribute content might help the Texan to regain its place at the center of student life. Students might find it helpful to upload news and upcoming events for their organizations, and people might relish the opportunity to contribute opinion pieces. Such a platform would require an editor to monitor contributions. An example of such a platform is NeighborsGo, published by The Dallas Morning News. Anyone can upload an article or photo.  Sponsorship revenue should be a part of this product

Answers to The Test Ad: If students thought they could find the answers to their quizzes in The Daily Texan, they’d be sure to pick up a copy. Each week (or as often as possible), The Texan would contain a sponsored “Answers to The Test” ad featuring one final-exam answer to a University course, preferably a large-lecture course that would draw a similarly large readership. Professors of these courses would likely jump at the chance, because they have the chance to reinforce course concepts through The Daily Texan and because they are usually junior faculty who can get a turn in the spotlight. For an additional bonus, newsies could stand outside the classroom and give away copies of The Daily Texan with the tag, “There’s an answer to the final in here.” Again, estimated revenue would be $30,000 per year.

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Miscellaneous Suggestions

Saturday edition: In line with the discussion of saturating residential dorms above, could The Texan penetrate the dorms with a Saturday edition, full of weekend advertising? This edition would offer entertainment and other weekend activities, including ads with coupons that reduced or eliminated cover charges at local venues. Conceivably, this could be printed Friday evening and mailed second-class so the papers arrive in dorm mailboxes on Saturday.

Political ads: Why are there no political ads in The Daily Texan? Surely some candidates see the student community as fertile ground for votes.

Student Associated Press: The Daily Texan is the largest student newspaper in the state capital. It could leverage its access to the UT System and to state agencies, such as the Higher Education Coordinating Board, to provide coverage, for a fee, for student newspapers, particularly UT branches, in the rest of the state.

Audience-building campaign:  This effort for print and digital is imperative, and this DOES NOT mean spending money. It means focus, and ideas and quick implementation. All – including student editors – should be involved in such an effort, and goals must be set and met.

Parent Edition: A special edition created for and sent to parents, plus continuing coverage and contact with parents via e-newsletters, breaking news, etc.

The Daily Texan Freshman Meet and Greet Adventure:  Create something just for freshmen. A campus “march” to learn where key buildings and places are; live music and street artists; food samples from advertisers – ALL FREE with Freshman ID.  Sell booths and sponsorship stages and hand out a special print edition (with mobile access) with all the basic campus info and sponsor ads with bounce back offers.

Create Simple Digital and Print Sales Packages: The current package is too complicated.  Buyers are too busy for a process that is too complicated.

App-only Coupons: Sales opportunity. Pick a weekday and market it.

Understanding Metrics: For sales and editorial to succeed, everyone needs to under digital and print metrics.  Perhaps this is being done, but if, not do an every month-rollup, and comparison to previous months and previous year. Share an external version with advertisers, after the metrics improve.

Social Media Sales: Huge opportunity, do more now, or someone else will take the UT market away.

Be The Expert: Sales people need to understand enough about digital so they can provide guidance to small-medium businesses.  Many papers are focusing successfully on a digital agency approach for SMB advertisers.  That’s a bridge too far for TSM and The Texan now, but at least sales people should be smart about digital and be able to assist SMBs.

Distribution issues: Do more with business locations; don’t just put in orange boxes and expect students to pick up the papers.

The Value of Content: Editors should consider platforms for distributing public information generated by the University. Like any government-funded institution, the University of Texas generates a lot of data and information. Often such data is difficult to find and navigate. For starters, create a web channel, and sell sponsorships, and post UT data and reports of interest.

User Engagement: Consider ways to make The Texan online more useful and engaging, via social media, user-generated content and  “citizen” journalists to provide timely content, allowing students to express themselves.  This could work for photography and videos as well.  The traffic to this “citizen” section could lead to sponsorships.

WebCam Page:  Set up a webcam page from spots around campus and Austin and sell sponsorships.

Marketing: The Texan needs a consistent, ongoing branding campaign for both the print product and website, since a fourth of its potential audience is brand-new every fall semester.

Polls and Surveys: Create polls and surveys on campus topics; building audience, and sell sponsors.

Opinion Pages: Build online and digital audience by creating forum pages online, moderated by a Texan staffer or subject matter expert on a specific topic; dovetail with printed product


Longer-Term Revenue Opportunities

Foreign-language products: Is there a market and opportunity?

Walled Access to Some Portions of Site: if there is a business opportunity, data behind a wall, pay for access?

E-Books:  Consider publishing Daily Texan content in the form of e-books. E-books about the football season, a major news story or the year’s best comics could be popular and inexpensive to produce. Also, e-books or print publications designed as keepsakes could be popular among graduating seniors, specialty groups such as Longhorn Band or after major news events. For example, now is a good time to sell an e-book and/or tabloid-sized keepsake publication about Mack Brown’s career. Mine the archives; find great photos and old articles. Other topics might include memorial publications about famous people who attended UT, campus history, bands that got their start in Austin, tributes to favorite venues when they close down, an annual wrap-up of SXSW. You could also publish very practical e-books, like a guidebook for freshmen. By doing these projects as e-books, rather than websites, it is easier to charge a fee because people expect to pay for books.


Collaboration and Roles

The Friends of The Daily Texan have no desire to interfere in management of TSM or The Texan. We are professionals with “day jobs,” and would like to focus on that, not on the problems that TSM faces. We have careers, families, clients and other requirements that attract our attention.

However, The Texan was instrumental in our college lives and our professional careers, and we do not intend to look the other way or step back as The Texan hurtles toward financial failure.

As alumni and UT graduates, we feel we have the right to participate, and to help.

It is the responsibility of management and students in charge in any era – today included – to consider the big picture, and to provide proper management, generate a sustainable line of media products and protect the legacy of The Texan.

We look forward to moving ahead together.


Summary and Next Steps

Thank you for reading this detailed document. This report is long, but the problems are many. Many of the solutions are inside this document.

Our goals are the same: help The Texan become solvent, and prevent it from becoming a digital fly-speck that is a shadow of the great paper that has covered UT with fervor and enthusiasm, producing so many outstanding individuals since its founding in 1900s.

Concluding this document, we would suggest:

• An collaborative effort by all parties for the next 12 months, with a goal that everyone commits to of making The Texan profitable by March 1, 2015.

• No cuts in print publication during this period due to heavy reliance on print revenue.

• Creation of a print revenue development plan by May 1 to devise and commit to a strategy to reach profitability over the next 12 months.

• Since revenue is the key over-riding issue, we suggest all options be on the table to make goal, including outsourcing ad sales for print and digital.

• Parallel to the print effort, creation of a digital plan – this report is a huge head start – by May 1, 2014.

• Set a goal to triple digital audience by Feb. 1, 2015.

• Set a goal to triple digital revenue by March 1, 2015.

• Provide information on the form and amount of past Texan content so that TSM-NewsBank-Friends of The Texan can proceed with making past content available online to jumpstart that revenue source.

• Establish a working group to define and understand the overriding question behind all we attempt here: what can be done to make The Texan once again indispensable to the University community.

• All parties commit to an honest, open, responsive and collaborative approach and relationship.

Let’s move forward rapidly; the UT community – past, present and future – has too much to lose if we fail.

                                                         — Media Committee / Friends of The Daily Texan


Authors and Contributors

The following eight individuals – journalists, technologists, digital experts, educators, all supporters of The Texan  – contributed to this report by participating in a series of collaborative brainstorming conference sessions, and completing one-on-one research, reporting, data collecting and analysis. Some sections of this report were written wholly by a single individual; most sections were collaborative efforts, with John Reetz serving as compiler/editor of the document.

Cliff Avery: Cliff wrote for The Daily Texan before he registered for a course at the University of Texas. He worked at the Texan throughout his college career and served as managing editor in the fall of 1972. He was elected to the Texas Student Publications board (now Texas Student Media) in 1973 and graduated with a degree in journalism that same year. After graduation and several flirtations with law school, he worked for newspapers — daily and weekly — and as a television news director. He worked on early electronic publishing ventures with a subsidiary of Time, Inc. in New York, where he rose to assistant managing editor for technology, and with a consortium in Chicago, where he was vice president and editor. For the past 22 years, Cliff has owned a small business in the Austin area that provides services to statewide associations and local governments. He is President of Friends of The Daily Texan.

Gary Borders: Gary received his master’s in journalism, from The University in 1987 but was on campus from 1980-82, where he contributed a couple of photo essays to The Daily Texan and some freelance shots. It took him five years to get around to writing a thesis and receiving a diploma because he foolishly bought a weekly newspaper in San Augustine, in Deep East Texas. He later worked for more than 20 years as an editor-publisher for Cox Newspapers at the Longview News-Journal, Lufkin Daily News, and The Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches. Borders has received many awards from Texas APME for column and editorial writing, as well as sharing a Headliners award for investigative reporting. He is the author of two collections of columns, “Behind and Beyond the Pine Curtain (Eakin Press) and the self-published “Loblolly Chronicles.” The University of Texas Press published “A Hanging in Nacogdoches,” his account of a brutal murder and the ensuing trial, in 2006. Borders is a former director of Texas Student Media (2011-2012). He teaches journalism at Kilgore College where he is also adviser for the student newspaper.

Richard Elam: Dick, who dedicated his life to educating future journalists, was editor of The Daily Texan during the 1949-1950 school year – a very controversial year.  The American Association of University Professors had blacklisted the University of Texas in response to the Board of Regents’ decision to fire President Homer Rainey in 1944. Academic freedom was an important issue, not just because of the AAUP blacklist but also due to the anti-Communist McCarthyism hysteria. The Legislature required UT employees and students to sign a loyalty oath. Employees who did not sign were fired, and students who did not sign were dismissed from school. Dick Elam’s Texan attacked the loyalty oath as a violation of freedom of thought, calling it “no more than salve for the hysteria that the uninformed masses have adopted as an everyday form of thought.” Beyond the university, the central domestic issue facing the country was racial segregation. The Texan gave prominent coverage to these and other events in this historical social struggle. On the editorial page, Dick’s Texan branded “separate but equal” a sham and denounced “the evils of segregation.” The Texan called for racial integration at UT and in Texas public schools. Dick earned his bachelor’s degree from UT in 1950. He returned to UT and earned his master’s degree in 1968. He received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972.  For much of his life, Dick and his UT roommate, Fred Barbee, owned and published small newspapers, including the El Campo Leader-News, the Wharton Journal-Spectator, the Edna Herald and the Ganado Tribune. They also owned a radio station and installed cable TV in El Campo. Dick served on the faculty of UT’s Journalism School until 1977 and also served as assistant dean of the College of Communications. In1977, Dick joined the faculty at UNC and served there until his retirement. In 2001, after his retirement, he and his late wife, Margaret, moved to Washington State. They resided there until her death in 2013. In November 2013, Dick was inducted into the first Daily Texan Hall of Fame, sponsored by Friends of The Daily Texan.

Jeanne Janes: Jeanne opened Janes and Associates Public Relations in San Antonio in 1995 and is currently serving as Marketing Director for Bexar County Community Arenas.  She was graduated from The University of Texas in 1974 with a Bachelor of Journalism Degree. Janes and Associates Public Relations opened its doors in 1995 offering a twist to approaching the media – making sure the story was news.  Results from happy clients propelled the business into regional and national accounts handling everything from building a hazardous waste landfill to producing weekly TV “Do It Yourself” segments for a national home store chain. Jeanne, APR president and owner, comes from a print background that morphed into a 10-year TV career handling assignments, public affairs programming and on air reporting.  She spent 12 years at Anderson Advertising, a full service agency, as Vice President of Public Relations and left in 1995 to start her own company.
Elizabeth Souder-Philyaw:  Elizabeth Souder is an editor with Oliver Wyman. She worked as a business reporter for 15 years, most recently covering the energy industry for The Dallas Morning News. Before that, she worked for Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, covering aviation in New York and German banks and economics in Frankfurt. She earned a degree in Journalism and Liberal Arts/Plan II from The University. She worked at The Daily Texan from 1994 to 1999, holding various titles including reporter, news editor, features editor, associate editor, and domestic advice columnist.

John Pope: John, a reporter for | The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, was a member of the newspaper’s team that won two Pulitzer Prizes, a George Polk Award, a National Headliner’s Award and the Medill Award for Courage in Journalism for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. A native of New Orleans, Pope earned bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Texas, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and worked four years on The Daily Texan as a reporter and copy editor. He has held fellowships at the University of Maryland and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he was a Hearst Foundation visiting fellow at the University of Texas. Before Katrina, he was a general-assignment reporter who moved into writing about public health. Since the 2005 storm, he has written about higher education and developed a specialty in writing obituaries. He was principal speaker at the College of Communication fall commencement in 2010.
John Reetz: Since 2008, John has been co-owner of Media Solutions Partners, an Atlanta-based consulting firm helping the media transition to a successful digital future. Clients include Digital First Media, WebMD, The New York Times Co., ClickFuel, Crowdynews, Digital Sherpa, Network Communications Inc. and companies publishing 500-plus newspapers, large and small.  His role is as focused as developing and implementing a digital strategy for a single paper, or a complex, complete redo of 60 newspaper company web sites, from ground up, including all tools, utilities and infrastructure, and content and revenue strategy.  Before 2008, he managed Cox Newspapers’ (Austin, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, etc.) digital unit, providing all digital services and support services to 40-plus Cox websites. Prior to his Cox corporate role, John was Assistant Managing Editor of News Operations at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the first all-encompassing design/technology/copy desk/operational unit at a major U.S. newspaper. He was chairman of the AJC’s Olympics Operations Committee, coordinating a Cox-wide effort involving 5,000 employees focused on Olympics publication efforts. He was Managing Editor of the Gwinnett Daily News, a New York Times-owned paper, and a reporter and then city editor at the Savannah Morning News, ran a tri-weekly in the mountains of Western North Carolina, ran a weekly in Lyndon Johnson’s hometown of Johnson City and owned a weekly newspaper in East Texas. John is a graduate of the College of Communication at the University of Texas. He was a reporter, copy editor, assistant managing editor and managing editor at the Daily Texan.  He is Secretary and a founding executive committee member of Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc. On his office desk he uses as a paperweight the hot-metal type box which daily proclaimed The Texan’s independent status on the editorial page all through 1971, until TSP Inc. passed into history.
S. Griffin Singer: Griff is a retired UT School of Journalism faculty member who spent almost 60 years in journalism, as a teacher, reporter and editor. While getting his BJ at Texas, he was on The Daily Texan staff two years. Later, during a 34-year career on the J school faculty, he spent numerous terms on what was then called Texas Student Publications board, now TSM. He has been a reporter, assistant metro editor, assistant managing editor and consultant at such newspapers as The Dallas Morning News, the defunct San Antonio Light and at the Houston Chronicle.