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With COVID-19 still looming, USC’s Daily Gamecock cuts weekly print edition

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With a national pandemic leaving the University of South Carolina in a time of uncertainty, many campus hallmarks are facing budget cuts — including student-led newspaper The Daily Gamecock.

The publication recently announced it would cease producing a once-weekly print edition, shifting to an almost entirely online approach.

“We receive student activity fees that typically makeup about 45 percent of our operating budget,” explains Sarah Scarborough, USC’s director of student media. “Our allocations for the upcoming year have been reduced and we are anticipating a significant loss in revenue.”

But the reasoning isn’t all financial. Erin Slowey, The Daily Gamecock’s editor-in-chief, says it also reflects logistical concerns.

“We had to consider a situation where the university goes online mid-semester again and there may not be students on campus to pick up the print edition,” she offers.

“It’s unfortunate to go into this year without a weekly print publication, but I think it was the responsible decision,” Scarborough says. “I think The Daily Gamecock is evolving into what a media/news organization needs to be in 2020.”

Beyond the impacts to the coming school year, the paper’s print future after COVID-19 — which has pushed already online-savvy students to become even more invested in digital platforms — is far from certain.

“I can’t predict the future, but I know we will be wherever the readers are,” Slowey says of the possible transition back to print. “I think the coronavirus has expedited the inevitable conversation that newsrooms across the world are having.”

Slowey accepts the challenges presented by this new normal, and looks forward to the professional growth the process will afford to her and her staff.

“This transition is going to make us better journalists. The changes we are making are also changing in the real world, Slowey discusses. “We are going to be better equipped entering into the job market.”

Though whether The Daily Gamecock might transition back to a weekly print newspaper is uncertain, the publication will still produce two physical issues for the coming school year, expected out in mid-August and mid-October, in an effort to not completely abandon print.

“[The students] understand the role that print plays,” Scarborough posits. “We did not want to go all-digital with no print.”

Though students won’t be able to find the paper around campus this semester, the publication is strategizing ways to continue reaching them.

The Daily Gamecock has been pretty active this summer and has been working closely with their faculty advisor, Michelle LaRoche, who had been incredibly helpful through this entire ordeal,” Scarborough says. “Beginning this fall we will have the ability to send the Monday [digital] edition to all student email addresses.”

“Our engagement team is working on different strategies to interact with our readers,” Slowey offers. “The pandemic has given us the opportunity to really focus on things that may have been on the back burner before.”

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