Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ryerson Review of Journalism will continue in both print and digital form

It has been decided after a thorough review* that the Ryerson Review of Journalism is to continue as a multi-platform magazine, including an annual print edition. A note to readers from Ivor Shapiro, the chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism and the publisher says that there is a recognition that the Review is "a serious asset for students' career preparedness." 

Occupying a lot of the conversation about what the RRJ should be like in future, the outcome was pretty much what might have been predicted. The loyal readers of the magazine want to see continuation of  the annual print edition as a sort of anchor tenant for a menu of digital offerings ranging across a variety of platforms such as social media, a digital edition, a blog, a podcast and a regular e-letter. In other words, it is not an either-or proposition, print or digital, but an "audience-first" approach.

Students value the RRJ as a laboratory for learning the business. The challenge is for Ryerson, its students and those loyal readers to find a consistent and sustainable way to pay for it. It means that more readers/supporters than the current roughly 300 subscribers need to step up. (As a canny slogan of The Nation magazine used to put it "It's not enough to just subscribe to our principles.") It also means that part of being on the staff will mean asking for those orders; expanding the magazine's audience and hustling for donations.

Among the expectations coming out of the review is that students on the RRJ masthead will now be given a set publishing budget made up by the school, part of the students' ancillary fees, donations and subscriptions and that the students will be expected to make their own decisions on how to grow and spend that budget. There will also probably be more collaboration between the RRJ and  the J-Source, produced by the Canadian Journalism Project and housed in the same offices right next door. 

Readers of this blog know that I am a subscriber and have been a booster and proponent for the RRJ for a long time and that I think it is a very important venture holding the magazine and wider publishing business to account.  The annual does outstanding research, reporting and writing and if the people in this business know what's good for them, they'll see that it continues to do so. It's very much needed.  

[*Disclosure: I was one of the people consulted during the review.] 

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