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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill High School's newspaper transitions to being fully online

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Chapel Hill High School's newspaper, Proconian, has been in print since 1931. Photo courtesy of Proconian.

Chapel Hill High School’s student newspaper, Proconian, will transition into being fully online this year. The decision to move to an online platform was because of funding, time and reaching readership.

“First off, print is sort of dying, and so we didn’t think we were reaching all of the readership we wanted to necessarily through a print paper," Grace Newton, co-editor-in-chief of the paper, said. “Second of all, for just financial reasons — we’ve been sort of low on funds for a few years now, and printing is so expensive.”

Proconian began as a semimonthly newspaper in 1931. In recent years, the newspaper has printed five issues a year, but last year there was only four due to a smaller staff. The paper costs about $750 per issue to print with a circulation of 1,000 papers according to Max Ring, the co-business manager of Proconian. 

“I feel like it’s nice when you can hand-deliver it to each class,” Ring said. “You see people excited to read it, but you always see them end up in the recycling bin afterwards because people read it for a week and then they’re done with it and that was your whole quarter of work right there.”

The high school newspaper is funded by the students through subscriptions, fundraisers and ad sales although Ring said lately it has been hard to get businesses to buy advertisements in the paper. 

Co-editor-in-chief Gillie Weeks said creating the layout for each edition takes a lot of time — a problem that won't exist in an all-digital format — but said she's still sad to see the print edition go. 

“I think that there’s something really cool about spending all this time working on something. I’ve stayed here until 1a.m. before working on this paper, and it’s all worth it because you get to hold this thing in your hand that you’ve created,” Weeks said.

Newton said Proconian had a website her sophomore year. But after losing their webmaster, it became a place where a pdf of the paper was uploaded without a way to link to specific articles. 

With the new digital layout, students will be able to share their work and link to articles on social media platforms.

“By going online, students might be more inclined to check updates on the paper because they can just do it on their phone,” Newton said. “It will be a lot easier to advertise things on social media because we’ll be able to link articles to the paper that are online.” 

The newspaper will also be able to publish more relevant material in real time, instead of having to wait for the next issue.

“Our first issue came out in October, and we were covering things from the summer — it’s just not really timely anymore,” Weeks said. “So I think I do see our newspaper coverage being a lot more timely, so I think that’s good.”

A senior at Chapel Hill High Riley Johnson was recruited by the paper to help create their new website. He said aggressive social media outreach is key in moving forward and the new website heavily integrates this. 

“I gotta say, I've been reading the Proconian since my freshman year, and I've been consistently amazed by the level of work that they produce,” Johnson said. “Having the opportunity to work with these students and to help them out and create a great product, it's really amazing what they've done, and I'm super happy to be able to work with them.”

@laurentalley13

city@dailytarheel.com

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