Monday Paper to don a graduation gown of its own

03 June 2013

Tanya FarberTanya Farber, the new head of Newsroom and Publications

While campus is abuzz with graduation glory at the moment, the Monday Paper will soon be experiencing a 'graduation' of its own. As usual the newspaper will be taking a break over the mid-year vacation, but will re-emerge during July in its new guise as the Monday Monthly – a longer publication that offers a more in-depth read.

"We are very excited about improving the publication and finding new synergies with the online UCT newsroom," says executive director of communication and marketing, Gerda Kruger.

"Our intention is to expand Monday Paper's coverage of UCT's core business and to reposition the publication as a more thought-provoking and modern, exciting read that showcases the dynamic and creative work on campus in slightly more depth. We are simultaneously expanding the UCT online news to cover more daily breaking news, and we hope to cover more stories more frequently on this platform."

"Doing this will assist us in feeding more information about campus life to more audiences while optimising our existing resources. We believe these improvements will better serve our many readers around campus and further afield," adds Kruger.

The paper is being brought in line with the standards set by top educational institutions across the globe, and the revitalisation of the paper is taking place under the strategic guidance of renowned journalist and media expert Tanya Farber.

Farber has won four international awards for her journalistic expertise and brings more than a decade of newsroom experience with her to UCT. She has worked for the mainstream media in South Africa and has produced several publications for international bodies such as the United Nations and the Open Society Foundation. She joined the team as head of Newsroom and Publications in May, and has since then conducted a thorough assessment of Monday Paper, its readership, its purpose and the best way forward.

It became clear that its role as a 'paper of record' had long since been usurped by its more dynamic and immediate counterpart online in the form of the 'Daily News' component of UCT's home page.

Research across the globe has shown that people with access to the internet are more likely to consume their daily news in that format because of its immediacy, while papers that offer a degree of analysis, insight and well-researched features are still able to engage and entertain readers.

As more and more people from across the world gain access to the internet, UCT's online news articles are gaining a wider readership.

Rethea Deetlefs, Head of Online Communications in the Communication and Marketing Department, says sophisticated analytics enable one to accurately gauge visitors' interaction with news articles.

"We are able to see how many times an article is viewed, where the visitors are from, and how long they spend on a page. We can even tell which towns and cities visitors hail from. For instance, visitors from all corners of the world viewed the 'We Say: Enough!' campaign – literally from Cape Town to Helsinki, and from Los Angeles to Tokyo. We can gather this type of information about each online news article, whereas there is only anecdotal feedback for hardcopy articles."

"The number of page views per article allows us to measure the relative popularity of articles. For instance we know that the two most popular articles on the site so far this year are the World University Rankings, with 5 835 page views, and the 'We Say: Enough!' campaign with 3 122 page views," adds Deetlefs. Farber and her Newsroom and Publication team will not merely showcase the outstanding work or awards of academics, PASS staff and students on campus. The Monday Monthly will also give members of the campus community a voice in the form of an opinion page where people can share – in their own words – their latest work, or contribute to pertinent debates, in an accessible way.

"We can now raise the quality of the publication in tune with its new role in the form of the Monday Monthly – a role which many other print publications have had the pleasure of taking on since online sites started breaking news," she explains.

The photographs will also move away from the standard podium shots and into a more creative realm of feature photography, while each edition will also contain features and a double-page spread on a specific theme.

"This is an extremely exciting new chapter in the paper's long history," adds Farber, "and the Newsroom and Publications team is hard at work to produce a paper that reflects the brilliant minds of this university in an appropriate way. UCT is a wonderful incubator of thought, action and analysis, and any person on or off campus should be able to pick up our publication and take notice of this fact."

"We are also in the most fortunate position of not having to rely on advertising revenue to keep publishing," says Farber, "and so we have two forms of 'prime real estate': a dynamic online space that can work in synergy with a paper that isn't covered with too many adverts."

This means that the newsroom team, under Farber's management, can allocate stories that come in to a variety of different spaces, be they sections in the Monday Monthly or high-traffic spots online.

To streamline the system, the Monday Paper email address will fall away, and will be replaced by newsdesk@uct.ac.za so that all story ideas are filtered through one system and allocated accordingly


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