On the surface, this is not a good time to be in the newspaper business. Readers are increasingly turning to new media, and advertisers are following, forsaking the traditional broadsheet. Foreign bureaus are closing. Reporters are being laid off, their bylines replaced by wire feed. Readers have fewer and fewer reasons to reach for their local papers each morning.
The Elm City, too, has been hit by the downturn in the newspaper industry. This summer, a share of the New Haven Register’s parent company sold for less than a single copy of that newspaper — until its parent was de-listed from the stock exchange altogether. Beginning this fall, no daily newspaper but this one has even a single reporter assigned primarily to cover Yale.
“At places where editors and publishers gather, the mood these days is funereal,” the executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, said last fall. “Editors ask one another, ‘How are you?’ in that sober tone one employs with friends who have just emerged from rehab or a messy divorce.”
Yet the members of the Board of 2010 — whose names are printed below for the first time — fill 202 York St. with optimism for the future of our endeavor. The News, today, is more relevant than ever. And we, the new board, plan to maintain and build upon the strong foundation we proudly inherit today.
Thirteen decades ago, in 1878, Yale students like the 29 of us published the first issue of this newspaper in response to, as they put it, “the dullness of the times, and … the demand for news among us.” The times today cannot be called dull, but the demand for news among us remains. And as other newspapers wither, the role of the News as a forum for discussion in and about this community grows ever more important.
As Yale administrators continue to plan for the largest expansion to Yale College in a half century, the News will be here to examine their decisions. As Mayor DeStefano prepares to ask voters to send him to a record-setting ninth term, we will be here to examine his record. More broadly, as officials and administrators make decisions that affect the quality of your education or your workplace or your life, we will be here.
One of us asked President Levin a few weeks ago why, since he became president 15 years ago, he has taken time daily to speak with the News. Easy, he said: “It seemed to me that this was a way to allow the community to hold me accountable.” We, too, feel he and his administration should be held accountable. And over the next year, we will work to ensure that happens, in the way only a free press can.
The News is as robust as ever. We have tried to strengthen our product through redesigns to our Web site and print edition. We’re working to bring you shorter, snappier stories designed for lives constantly squeezed for time, and through photos and graphics that better bring the printed word to life. We also want to be more accessible than ever before. We encourage you to speak to us, through our Web site, through the new Cross Campus feature and through this very page, which remains the central place for deliberation on our campus.
The American newspaper may be dying. But this one, the oldest college daily, isn’t going anywhere.