How Do We Improve The KAIST Herald?
Taking a break from the usual debates on social issues, The KAIST Herald poses an introspective question designed to generate ideas on how we can harness a permanent readership base and better reach out to KAIST students.
As the Operations Manager started the engine of his white, rusty, 2002 Hyundai Sonata, a junior staff reporter and I reassembled the gray papers of issues and drama in the backseat of the car. Yes, it was another day of newspaper distribution, which meant another day of stacking new newspapers over unread old ones.
Newspaper distribution in The KAIST Herald had been a monthly, rather onerous, task to do just a semester ago when I first joined the club. As a writer filled with hope and motivation, I was purely fueled by the thought that students would read the articles I wrote after spending hours of deep thought and a countless number of re-drafts as I tried my best to meet the deadlines. However, weeks of newspaper deliveries made me realize a very disturbing pattern that needed to be dealt with one way or the other: the KAIST community was not reading The KAIST Herald.
Every time we would deliver the newspapers to The KAIST Herald stands situated at numerous spaces around the campus, we would realize a trend in which we would practically stack the newly-printed, fresh newspapers on top of the past The KAIST Herald issues. As an organization purely dependent on the KAIST community, we thought that there was a need for us to find a way to increase the readership of The KAIST Herald.
Established in 1997, The KAIST Herald has always been a separate organization from the Korean newspaper distributing organization, the KAIST Times. One pressing issue in the current situation of having two sources of information is the unbalanced awareness of the KAIST community. As the KAIST Times reports its news purely in Korean, practically no non-Korean speakers can understand the news. Similarly, no non-English speakers will be able to understand The KAIST Herald. This creates the status quo where people that can only read English can only get information presented by The KAIST Herald whereas people who can only read Korean are limited to the information given by the KAIST Times. This, although it may not be the main reason the readership of the Herald is dwindling, is still an important issue that needs to be tackled. Perhaps the Herald and Times can make a communication bridge between them to discuss certain trends of news to be tackled for their issues.
Although there are many other aspects to newspapers, I believe that at the core of their existence, the main goal for newspapers is to provide information to the community. The KAIST Herald, whilst giving important news about the community, fails to inform the community about important upcoming dates. I believe that this is an area where much improvement can be made. Perhaps, The KAIST Herald can add a calendar section that informs the KAIST community about important events in the upcoming month. That way, The KAIST Herald would be providing students with a more accessible way to check the school calendar and increase its presence in the KAIST community with the increase of readership.
And yes, as an organization, we have made efforts in the past to increase readership. We tried to implement the “Media Space” idea by putting up informative posters of what will be featured in the next issue, we tried to make more spots to deliver our newspaper around campus, and we also tried to vary the topics within each division in the hopes of reaching out to a wider variety of audiences. However, with the current situation, it can more than well be said that the efforts have been unfortunately futile. I believe that we have now come to a stage where both the community and the Herald should be making a joint effort to make a more informative organization and a more information-craving society. If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.