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Shane Hoefer, editor of Minnesota Daily.

Outgoing editor in chief Shane Hoefer with the new Minnesota Daily.

Extreme makeover: University standby gets a new look

University standby gets a new look

By Rick Moore

From M, summer 2004

Few icons around the Twin Cities campus can evoke memories for virtually all alumni. But chances are, unless you attended the University before 1900, you have more than a passing familiarity with the Minnesota Daily. Maybe you marked the days of quarters past with the ramblings of Elmo's weather forecast. Or perhaps your semesters were more enjoyable with a daily fix of the crossword puzzle (more on that later) or "Network," the idiosyncratic, present-day exchange-of-ideas-and-sarcasm column. You may not, however, be familiar with the new look of the Minnesota Daily. In mid-February, the Daily received a dramatic makeover; in fact, it's probably more accurate to say that it got a whole new body. After 65 years as a tabloid-sized newspaper (just under 12 inches wide), the newspaper switched to a broadsheet format--the size of a majority of daily publications. The conversion, says outgoing editor in chief Shane Hoefer, was made for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, Hoefer feels that the new format enables the newspaper to "tell stories in a more engaging and vibrant way, with more photographs, more graphics, more headlines, and more creativity." Whereas the tabloid Daily was only able to start three or four stories on page 1, the new format allows it to feature an average of five stores on the front page, as well as run a column of another nine or 10 news briefs. That plays well with today's readers, Hoefer says, many who have more abbreviated attention spans for news. "They've grown up on the Internet," he says. "They want ease of information. They're commuters; they're busy." Also, he says, "As a training institution, it only makes sense to be training our journalists in the same format they'll be working in after graduation."

Daily at a glance

Founded in 1900

$2.1 million annual operating budget

5th largest daily newspaper in Minnesota

Circulation: 31,000 per day

Estimated readership: 55,000-60,000 per day

Staff of 160, including 85 in editorial

Formerly housed in Murphy Hall, the Daily is at 2301 University Ave. S.E.

The Daily is a student organization that functions as an independent nonprofit, and has an annual operating budget of $2.1 million. A board of directors governs the newspaper, but the student staff makes all the day-to-day management and editorial decisions. With a circulation of 31,000, Hoefer says it's the fifth largest daily newspaper in the state. By its nature--staff and editors that vary yearly--the Daily's quality and vision are prone to change. Hoefer, whose one-year term as editor in chief ends in May, says he "set out with the broad goal of wanting to regain some of the high standards that the Daily has set nationally in student journalism... and getting people here as excited as possible about journalism." In terms of accomplishments, the newspaper has fared well in his tenure. It addition to a number of individual awards, the Daily was named best all-around daily newspaper at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 6 Mark of Excellence Awards--its first such honor since 2000. "Critically speaking, I think it's a fantastic success," Hoefer says of the new-look Daily. "We have the best designed student newspaper in the country." Because there is more space on the front page, the editors have to plan more. "It makes everyone work harder for a better product," he says, "and I've been exceptionally fortunate to have an amazing, talented staff." Hoefer believes that a majority of students approve of the new-look Daily, although there hasn't been a survey yet to bear that out. He acknowledges, however, that there are a number of readers--"people who have an intimate relationship with the paper"--who aren't fond of the change. He even offered one possible explanation for their dismay. "The larger format is less convenient for covertly doing the crossword in class," he says.

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