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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Columns

Cougar has come far, still needs help


Life in the communication business was simpler when I first arrived at The Daily Cougar in August 2005.

Facebook was a fledgling website known then as “Thefacebook.” Twitter hadn’t been heard of yet. The iPhone was still being put together in one of Apple’s laboratories. And while newspapers were still being pushed out by the Internet, journalism students didn’t have to worry too much about finding jobs after graduation.

Fast forward nearly five years, and a lot more uncertainty has built up in the newspaper industry as publications struggle to remain relevant among the masses of readers who help bring in advertising revenue. Combine that with the damaging effects of a lingering recession, and it’s not easy to sell the newspaper business to aspiring students these days.

As editor in chief of The Daily Cougar, my main goal has been to help the paper remain a reliable source of news for members of the UH student body and make it a place where college students of all backgrounds could be developed into productive professionals. My editors and I did so against a backdrop of budget cuts, decreasing advertising revenue and students’ fading desire to work for our newspaper.

I had roughly one year to achieve my goals, and I end my tenure assured that The Daily Cougar is on its way to recovery after taking the same lumps and bruises as all other newspapers. But I also leave knowing that much more work remains to be done.

My successor, Matthew Keever, is more than capable of carrying The Daily Cougar even further. I believe that, in time, he will improve this paper in ways that I probably never could have imagined.

As I reflect on the last two semesters, I realize that, in some ways, The Daily Cougar is in a much better position now to become an innovator and leader among college newspapers than it was back when I started out here. Five years ago, our newspaper lacked the resources needed to take a big step forward. We had highly talented writers, editors, photographers, cartoonists and salespeople, but we did not have a top-notch website, highly efficient ways to interact with our readers or up-to-date computers and other important pieces of technology.

Since then, we have added many of these things.

We launched a website in March that can be easily updated and looks better than those of many other college newspapers. We have a presence on both Twitter and Facebook. We’ve added blogs, video and podcasts to our website. Our paper’s design now grabs more people’s attention.

However, we still lack one particular resource.

Our newspaper needs more talented and hard-working students. We need not only talented journalism students, but more aspiring creative writers, artists, political scientists, lawyers, biologists, philosophers, businessmen and others like them. We need the knowledge and ideas they bring to the table.

In short, we need you.

As we head into a new decade of uncertainty, we, as a newspaper, still have opportunities to influence the way news is covered. We still have a chance to develop professionals. We can still be leaders, not followers.

Therefore, I implore you to stop by our offices in the University Center Satellite and check us out. Fill out an application, while you’re at it.

I did so back in August 2005, and life worked out fine for me.

Ronnie Turner is a communication senior and may be reached at [email protected]


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