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The rationale for a #blankObserver

The Observer Editorial Board | Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In the 45 years since The Observer printed its first issue, the world has changed a lot. Notre Dame became a coeducational university. Bellbottoms went out of style and never came back. And most importantly, the Internet as we now know it came into being. Because of that, the way we receive news is completely different today than it was in 1966.

Back then, people read the newspaper in print each morning, and sat down for the nightly newscast at 6:30 p.m. Now, most of us are too busy to carve out time for that. Instead, we read Twitter headlines on our phones between classes and use iPads to scroll through the day’s news. The world has changed a lot, and so has The Observer.

But why print a newspaper without stories? Because as your student newspaper, it is our responsibility to keep you informed about campus life at Notre Dame. Everything we offer in print is online, as well as a PDF of the day’s paper and web-only content, such as blogs, video reports and photo galleries. If you only read The Observer in print, you are missing out and we aren’t fulfilling our responsibility to you, the student body.

Don’t feel like reading the website? How about Twitter? Facebook? Our smart phone app?

It’s easier than ever to stay informed now, but we’re willing to bet that many of you don’t know that the Sports Department has a blog dedicated to interhall football or that our app has reviews of restaurants in South Bend.

South Bend accounts for only 15 percent of our total website visits, and many of those hits likely come from residents and faculty. Meanwhile, our website has had five clicks from Mongolia this academic year. We target you, not those in eastern Asia. We’re not feeling the love from you, student body. You are the people we care about. You are the reason we exist. You are why we give up Thursday nights at Fever.

Is this a guilt trip? Maybe. Is this shameless self-promotion? Perhaps. But do we have a point? You decide.

Follow @ObserverNDSMC on Twitter for breaking news. Follow @ObserverScene and look for cool giveaways. Follow @ObserverSports if you’re obsessed with Notre Dame football. (Don’t pretend you’re too jaded, we know you’re not.)

Explore our website today — all of our regular print content is still online. Stay updated on Viewpoint wars, watch a video blog or flip through a photo gallery of last week’s game. Tomorrow we will return to regular publication and you’ll have your lunch buddy back. But for now, try our website on for size. It’s a pretty good dining hall companion too, and it even fits in your pocket. Most importantly, now that you know what we have to offer on our website, let us know what you think. We want your feedback. Tweet #blankobserver and your thoughts @ObserverNDSMC.

For the first 35 years of The Observer’s life, our website didn’t exist. But we are so proud of what we have developed in the past 10 years, especially our recently revamped website, that we were willing to pull this stunt.

Today, The Observer turns 45. But like fine wine, we get better with age. As the world has changed, so have we, and this is our promise that we will continue to do so.

You may think this “blank” paper is our midlife crisis. We see it as a birthday celebration to ring in the next 45 years of innovation.