At 147 years old, the Maine Campus is one of the oldest continuously published newspapers in Maine, with only the Bates Student, the Bowdoin Orient and the Lewiston Sun-Journal being older.
But as of this school year, the student-run newspaper at the University of Maine has not only rebranded itself as Maine Campus Media, it’s also permanently ceased publication of its print edition. The move to an all-digital platform is a switch that’s been long in the making, said business manager Griffin Lord, a senior new media major.
“We’re a student newspaper, and our demographic just doesn’t read print. It hasn’t read print for years, actually,” Lord said. “We’re not reaching our target audience. So this will help us to do exactly that.”
The switch to an all-digital format reflects a shift away from print that has been underway for years both among mainstream news publications and other student outlets — whether reducing the number of days they publish a print edition and or going digital-only like Maine Campus Media.
While Lord, editor in chief Grace Blanchard and marketing manager Logan Swift anticipated some pushback from faculty, their staff advisers or alumni, the overwhelming response when they suggested the switch earlier this year was a resounding yes.
“We were worried there was some, like, clause from the 1880s that said the Maine Campus absolutely had to be printed. But no, nothing like that at all,” Blanchard said. “This is definitely a long time coming. It’s sad, because print is so cool, but it just doesn’t make sense anymore.”
The Maine Campus will continue to publish news, opinion, culture and sports stories written by UMaine students each week, with new articles posted to the website every Monday. Additionally, staff plans to develop a Maine Campus app to further expand the outlet’s ability to reach students where they are, which is mostly on their phones. They also plan to offer more student-created comics and art, and to start a podcast in the coming months.
The rebranding to Maine Campus Media reflects that shift.
“We’re a digital publication now, so it makes sense that the name reflects that,” Swift said.
Technically, the Maine Campus hasn’t printed anything since the pandemic started, since the print edition was distributed only on campus, and there was no one on campus to read it during the spring 2020 semester that was cut short. The Maine Campus also held off on restoring its print version during two pandemic-altered academic years.
But when it became clear that things would return to relative normal for the 2022-23 school year, Lord said they felt that now was the time to make the switch permanent.
During the 1980s, the Maine Campus was a daily newspaper with a circulation of more than 5,000. By the 1990s, it had gone down to printing three times weekly, and in the 2000s, it went down to twice weekly, and then once weekly in 2012.
It’s famous for helping to launch the writing career of Stephen King, who wrote a column for the paper between 1969 and 1971 called Steve King’s Garbage Truck, and who had one of his earliest short stories published in its pages.