USF student newspaper, The Oracle, is permanently ending the print edition after nearly six decades

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In a basement on the Tampa campus is a sort of fraternity. For decades, it’s where student journalists at the University of South Florida learned the work and stress of creating a daily publication.

Late nights of copy editing, breaking news—like Jim Levitt’s termination or the Lakeland campus breaking from the USF system—and just being a team taught them the intricacies of how a newspaper was published in the old fashioned way.

the oracle has been around since the 1960s, printing daily four days a week to keep students, staff, and faculty abreast of the latest happenings on campus. It was run entirely by a staff of mostly unpaid students and an advisor. On Monday, the current students behind the newspaper announced that it would be “a fully digital publication” beginning on the first day of the fall semester, Aug. 22.

It’s a decision they’ve probably seen written on the walls. According Editor and publisher and the Pew Research Center, the total estimated weekday circulation of US dailies was 55.8 million in 2000, but fell to 24.2 million in 2020.

In 2016, the oracle went from printing Monday through Thursday every week to only printing twice a week. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, print production as in-person instruction came to a halt on campus.

“And although we resumed printing once a week in the fall of 2021, the pickup was overwhelmed by the attention we had received online since the lockdown,” the letter read in part. “Oracle’s social media following grew exponentially in 2020 because it was the only way for readers to get information about USF’s COVID-19 regulations and guidance when they were away from campus. It showed us how important our online presence is in our digitalized world.”

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USF has since undertaken the daunting task of digitizing previous editions of the oracle. In June, staff told FOX 13 it could take a decade.

The archives are available at https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/usf_oracle_spc/

the oracle had won several awards over its years, including being voted by the Society of Professional Journalists as the nation’s best college daily in 1990 and the best student daily in the Southeast in 2016.

The complete letter to the readers can be seen below:

With a mission to tell the stories of the university to its community, a group of enthusiastic students founded The Oracle and published its first article in 1966.

Their vision design came to life in a landscape that predated the computer, cell phone, and internet. As a result, the team assembled over 40 members who committed to organizing and individually pasting each page of the diary, four days a week.

Now, beginning August 22, the first day of the Fall 2022 semester, The Oracle will be an all-digital publication.

There will be no more print editions as we will maintain the spirit of storytelling by publishing stories on our website four days a week, Monday through Thursday.

To begin the transition away from printing, in the spring of 2016 Oracle went from printing four days a week to two. This continued until the pandemic, when we were forced to cease print production indefinitely alongside in-person teaching. And although we resumed printing once a week in the fall of 2021, the pickup was overwhelmed by the attention we had received online since the lockdown.

Oracle’s social media following grew exponentially in 2020 because it was the only way for readers to get USF updates on COVID-19 regulations and guidance when away from campus. . It showed us the importance of our online presence in our digitized world.

To continue Oracle’s trend of adapting to the times, we’ve updated our web layout to make it more user-friendly, engaging, and competitive with other online information sources.

As our focus shifted from creating a print newspaper to our online presence, photography, video and other digital content will be given more prominence.

To stay up to date on USF news, please follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter which features a roundup of the week’s top stories.

We want to provide the campus community with as much information as possible, but we also need to hear from our readers. If you have a story tip, please email or DM us on social media.

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