The future is online

Array

Every day, the editorial staff at the UK wonders: What are we writing about, why are we writing about it, and how are we writing about it? A weekly look behind the scenes.

It’s been more than four years since the Universiteitskrant stopped being a printed newspaper in January 2013. Before that, the UK was available everywhere at the university every Thursday and people read it during lunch, their free time, or while waiting for a meeting or class to start.

We could always be found ‘somewhere’. In the cafeterias, lecture halls, hallways, on chairs and on tables. And in the market, wrapped around some fish… (that’s the way the cookie crumbles)

At any rate, the UK was something tangible, something you could hold. It smelled of paper and ink. If you were lucky enough to get hold of a copy before we were ‘sold out’ you’d end up with black fingers (and even black smudges on your face). That is how hot off the press our issues were.

Dead trees

But paper copies mean dead trees, and nowadays that’s no longer cool. We can get all melancholy about that and think back to those good old days. And I do sometimes, if I’m honest. But without much sadness.

Apparently, this is how people at the RUG feel as well. A poll we recently conducted among our readers shows that 63 percent have no need for a paper copy. And they feel the UK as a digital platform is generally just fine.

There were some comments, obviously. Everyone can publish what they want nowadays, which is nice, but it leads to a lot of nonsense. The online competition is brutal. Social media sets the tone but can’t always be trusted (fake news). Nevertheless, I think the age of the Internet is a blessing. It’s cheaper and more sustainable. We’re never ‘sold out’. Online is faster and the UK is always available. We’re not as dependent on (costly) distribution networks.

But above all, we can do so much more than in the days of yore: we’re interactive, more creative, more playful, more visually appealing. We can tell our stories in different formats. And that’s just what we did last week, when we published a large story about robots in which all these online elements converged: photos, videos, animation, interaction, and text, of course (but not as much as usual).

Alternative design

This week, we’re featuring five female scientists at the RUG who couldn’t care less about the glass ceiling or who broke it with their capabilities. We used an alternative design for the story. They are compact, but engaging interviews with beautiful black-and-white photos (long live nostalgia!).

We in the editor’s room would like to continue on this path, although we’ll probably fall flat on our faces along the way (please let us know when we do). But that’s all part of it and that’s exactly what is so great about a university and a university newspaper: we have the room to experiment and figure things out, and we can play around and find new story formats.

Rob Siebelink, editor-in-chief UK

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