Editorial—The future of the North Wind: we continue to serve

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Sam Rush/NW

North Wind Staff

Throughout the past year, the North Wind has undergone dramatic changes, yet this does not impact our dedication to providing the service of journalism to NMU students and the NMU community. We have high hopes for our growth during this winter semester, and this new year of 2021.

The North Wind transitioned from a primarily print-based news source when necessitated by safety concerns and a halt in our normal printing operations at the Mining Journal at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. At first, we focused on our digital PDF, and now we have revamped our website to better suit the reading habits of our audience and provide more engaging and accessible content.

Through the overwhelming negatives of the pandemic, we have discovered a positive result. In many ways we were stuck in the past, focusing on a print product that was not widely read, while our online content languished as an afterthought. In short, we needed to clean up our act. As a news source by students for students, we were not reaching our audience. As students, where do we read the news? Usually on our phones. We listen to podcasts, look at photos, watch clips, skim articles. We’re all about multimedia.

Now, nearly a year after The North Wind’s difficult pandemic-driven transition, our online audience has grown and our content has maintained the quality we strived for in print, as we look for more creative ways to engage students and the community alike.

This transition has also allowed us to focus on creating daily content, and even breaking news. No longer are we confined to a weekly schedule, releasing a paper each Thursday to stand for the remainder of the week. Now we produce stories that are more in keeping with the daily news cycle. Crazy new things happen every day, and we write stories on them the day they happen. In addition, students who attend classes from their homes can now access The North Wind content and stay abreast of events and issues relevant to the university.

Through our new weekly newsletter, which anyone can sign up to receive on our website, we currently bring content to about 400 email inboxes each week. We hope to continue to gain subscribers among students and faculty. The experience of producing the newsletter is beneficial to our staff as well because more and more companies are using such newsletters due to COVID-19.

All that said, we continue to produce a digital edition of the paper in PDF format, each week keeping the heritage of The North Wind alive and honored. It is likely that we will produce a print product again when the pandemic ceases to be the disruptive force that it still is. But we are at least grateful, in this difficult time, for the opportunity for growth, found in the midst of chaos.

We have also begun a foray into multimedia production: a news, features and sports podcast incorporating clips from interviews and audio stories. Our editors collaborate in the studio late into the night each Wednesday, producing audio that adds appeal and relevance for online users. We hope our experimental attitude during the pandemic will bear fruit as we reach out to more of our audience.

As an institution committed to service journalism for NMU’s community, we work to remain relevant and important, providing valuable information on current events, offering a platform for artists and thinkers to spread ideas, and connecting our neighbors both on-campus and online.

We encourage students, faculty and other audience members to reach out to us with ideas for how best we can serve you. We would love for you to share your opinions on our recent transformations. We hope to embody the spirit of service journalism, and thus improve life in the NMU community through that service.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is an editorial, written by the North Wind Editorial Board in its entirety. It reflects the majority views of the individuals who make up the editorial staff of the North Wind. It is the policy of the Editorial Board not to endorse candidates for any political office, in order to avoid aligning this public forum with particular political organizations.