Digital Killed the Print Edition: Knight Life finds new life online

Riley Dominianni, Feature Editor

Knight Life reporters Lily MacInnis and Brandi-Rose Phiri work hard in class to keep the new website up to date. This year, every student in Knight Life has taken on new responsibilities to ensure that the transition from print to digital goes smoothly.

Since 1960, Knight Life has been the voice of Loy Norrix, sharing opinions, reporting news, and covering events in an iconic print newspaper. As cherished as it was by many teachers, students, and, of course, the staff of Knight Life, the 2019-2020 school year marks a big change for the publication. We’re going digital.  

According to The Washington Post, we should all be anticipating the arrival of “a post-newspaper world.” In many places, it has already begun.

 “When I walk into the gas station and look at the Kalamazoo Gazette, I realize that I’ve already read all those articles online. It was time for Knight Life to keep up with the times,” said Knight Life advisor Tisha Pankop.

After the launch of the internet in 1991, the relevance of print newspapers began slowly declining. By the 2010s, this rate of change became more rapid, and now, in 2019, it appears that print publications are en route to obsoletion. 

This has required publications across the nation to run stories digitally as well as in print, or not at all. This past July, an article published by USA Today reported that since 2004, over 2  thousand American newspapers have shut down completely. 

As a serious publication, it is important that we here at Knight Life keep up with the changing times. Ending our tradition of printing five issues per school year was a difficult decision for editor-in-chief, senior Devon Gross and advisor Tisha Pankop. 

Pankop has been the advisor for Knight Life since 1995. “We’ve made a lot of changes through the years,” Pankop said. “At the end of the day, this is the direction we have gone. People are getting their news online. I would be a bad journalism teacher if I did not move with that change.” Pankop said this, combined with financial factors, are the two big reasons for the switch. 

As for her students, she is confident in their ability to handle it, “I think the staff is finally ready. I’ve got Elliot Russell, who has been working for hours and hours on end to make the website look great, Lily MacInnis is finding ways to publish stories that look more interesting, and there is a lot of talent in video and audio. The students are really embracing it.” 

Former Knight Life reporters prepare newspapers for distribution throughout the school. In years past, advanced journalism students would arrive to school early to pass out the print edition every time it was released.

Other additions this year include increased social media presence and a Knight Life app. So although she loves the print edition, Pankop is enthusiastic about what the future holds for Knight Life.

Fortunately, reactions from within the Loy Norrix community indicate that this future is indeed bright, as the switch will likely increase the relevance of the paper at school.

When asked about her experience with Knight Life, junior Laurel Wolfe indicated that she seldom read everything published in the paper, “Sometimes I would read the sports section or articles about people I knew,” said Wolfe. But Wolfe, who admitted to getting most of her news via twitter, said that she would “definitely” read more of Knight Life if it was online or on an app.

Similar feedback was received from senior Gary Luckett. Like Wolfe, Luckett mainly read the sports section of Knight Life in years past but agreed that an online format would make the publication “better and easier to read.” 

The 2019-2020 Knight Life shirt design, created by graphic editor Eli Reynolds, highlights and pokes fun at the recent change. Editor in chief and assistant editor in chief Devon Gross and Alexis Weeden posed in a parody of The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” album cover.

This change, while seemingly abrupt, is decades in the making. For Knight Life and for the rest of the world, online news is the new reality, and we are eager to see where it goes.