The pandemic has presented enormous challenges to the whole student community and Durham’s student newspaper is not sheltered from that. The SU has suffered financial losses as a result of COVID that continue to be challenging for the organisation, with so much uncertainty around next year. Many student groups and staff have faced sacrifices and changes to our activity to ensure it is safe, and we have cut costs in all areas so that no single area loses out completely.
One of the things that is helping us to ensure our charity is sustainable for students is not having to print Palatinate for the moment. Under its current editorship, Palatinate has continued to provide high quality and vital journalism. This is something we’re committed to supporting and helping to improve in the digital sphere, where it can be done safely and accessibly for students in the current circumstances. There is huge support for the award-winning paper and a hunger for online news - major publishers have been reporting record numbers of website visits, and interest and engagements with Palatinate’s online stories is strong and with greater focus and support will only get stronger. Palatinate is more than just the price of a paper, we are investing in Palatinate’s digital capacity, supporting them to create a more digital business model and providing them with the software to produce a digital edition.
With a drop in advertisers, distribution problems and the health and safety risk of doing a printed copy, regretfully printing the newspaper just isn’t feasible at this present time. I’ll be reviewing this and looking for possibilities before second term, when there will be a clearer picture of the realities of socially distanced campus life – I do not see this as a permanent decision, but rather a necessity at this point during a pandemic. Print journalism has a short expiry date and needs to be physically distributed – neither of which are compatible with the current unpredictable situation. I understand that many students want exposure to producing print journalism – but under the present circumstances, we’re working to ensure that Palatinate is fully supported to be the best it can be online.