It has been one year since the Baron: UNBSJ’s Independent Student Newspaper released its last printed issue. Under the guidance of then-Editor Jiveney Trecartin, the newspaper shifted its focus from print publishing to an online format. Now, with Jenna Albert as Editor-in-Chief, the Baron’s transition has been well-received by the UNBSJ community a year later.
Laura Jane Gordon, the coordinator of the university’s Sexual Health Centre and a contributor to the paper, has gone on record to say she strongly supports how the Baron has changed. “I loved the paper version; as a journalist, I loved seeing my name in print,” she says. On the recent online format of the Baron, Gordon states, “Let’s be really honest- print media is dying,” emphasizing that the paper’s switch was wise for this day and age.
Over the past year, the online readership has gone steadily up since the Baron made the big change. Scott Thomas, the Undergraduate Science, Applied Science and Engineering Advisor at UNBSJ, believes the format of a newspaper is irrelevant. “Whether it’s digital or paper, the most important thing is that there is a strong student community voice on campus,” he says.
Thomas cites the newspaper as being an integral part of campus life at UNBSJ, “University is so much more than lectures, assignments, essays and exams- it is about the sharing, exploring, testing of ideas- bland ideas, crazy ideas, funny ideas, sad ideas,” he says. “A student newspaper should be the heart of a campus population. The campus cafeteria the stomach, and the campus radio the liver. Whether its electronic or paper is not so much the issue— keeping it strong and relevant is.”
Ashley Macosky, the UNB-SRC’s former president and current Mature Student Rep, admits he doesn’t know how the student body feels about the Baron’s exclusively digital news content. However, he described the current version of the newspaper as being “more convenient” to read and catch up on news. “I know that it saves the paper money, which can be used elsewhere,” Macosky says, “I stopped reading the print copy when the Baron started doing more online.”
Still, there are some other factors to consider. First, there is the issue of getting more people aware of stories a they are posted and encouraging students to read the news. Macosky, in particular, feels there could be more promotion and exposure to the Baron’s news postings. “I think it needs to be promoted better,” he says. “Some faculty read the Baron, so I’m not sure if they know where to go read it now.”
The Baron strives to be relevant and up to date with the news. In addition to providing news stories on a weekly basis, the newspaper also includes linked audio recordings, videos and photo slides to provide more in depth coverage of events that are happening on campus and in the greater Saint John area. “It allows a much more interactive experience with video and sound,” says Gordon, “So I think it is great.”