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SportsMonday Column: The Daily may be shrinking, but it can't disappear

BY NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Published April 19, 2009

Traditionally, the last SportsMonday Column of the school year has taken the form of a long goodbye from a (hopefully) soon-to-be-graduating senior addressed to anyone interested in listening.

I’ll refrain from using that format because, if anything, this column should be about what the Daily has meant to you, the reader. But I don’t really have much to say about that, either.

So I sat down to write this column with some apprehension, doubting that I would have anything intelligent to offer. And I still doubt I do, but the process made me reflect on why I think the Daily is still an important part of this campus, even if we don’t realize it.

When I arrived on campus in September 2005, the Daily was a part of everyone’s routine. There it was every morning before class, offering some diversion to make that nine a.m. lecture go by a little bit faster.

The Daily of that time — and the years before — was a behemoth compared to what you see today. The print edition regularly had 16 pages. Sports fans could expect to find an article on their favorite team two or three times a week, not just after a game.

Sure, everyone still picked up the Daily for the crossword, and by the beginning of my sophomore year, the Sudoku. But there was a lot of good writing in the paper, too, for anyone who cared to take a look.

There’s still an amazing level of quality in today’s Daily. But I worry that fewer people are taking notice.

In the past four years, the Daily has shrunk in size, laptops have taken over classrooms and you can get your news, if you have any interest, from a dozen sources online. In 2005, if Michigan students wanted news, they had to turn to the Daily — at least if they wanted it for free.

I’m all for the proliferation of information. And I don’t want to use this space to offer my opinions on why the newspaper industry is dying. The truth is, I don’t have any more answers than the next guy. If I did, I probably would have, you know, landed a job in the industry by now.

All I hope is that the changes I’ve seen at the Daily in the last four years don’t mark the beginning of the end for this great college newspaper.

I’m not concerned that the Daily’s decline in influence will negatively impact me. I’ve already gotten more out of the Daily than anything else on this campus.

Without the Daily, I never would have had the countless incredible opportunities to cover interesting people, take amazing trips and, most importantly, work with the people who became some of my best friends.

The Daily was important to me for every reason other than seeing my name in the paper, strewn across the floor in Angell Hall. The Daily was my outlet, my proving ground and the place where I learned more about real life than any class I took on this campus.

I’m sure any senior reading this can say the same thing about the extracurricular they poured their time into over the last four years.

So even if the Daily does not have a single reader at some horrible point in time, I can only hope it doesn’t completely disappear.

I’ve been lucky enough to have the Daily there for me for the past four years.

Four years from now, I hope the Daily will be there for another student looking for a place to call home.

— Sandals wants to thank you, the reader. He can be reached at nsandals@umich.edu.