First, a big congratulations to the editors and marketers of the Woroni paper, because for the first time in the three years I’ve been at ANU, the previous edition of the paper was the first one I’ve ever considered picking up.
Why? Sex appeal! There is no doubt that putting tastefully risqué photos on the cover would have had an impact on readership; I would assume that many people wouldn’t have realised that it was a Woroni they were picking up until after they had a perve. But is this a bad thing?
With an approximately 100% readership within the student body, a university student newspaper’s purpose is to inform students of the interesting and controversial topics that flow through that group of students’ lives.
This is an extremely important job; there are important issues that students should be informed of as these directly affect them. At the ANU alone this has involved cutting down a whole school, sub-Dean/ANUSA drama and tutorial annihilation. Without student perspectives being published we only receive one side of the story, which can be very dangerous. Take the recent Go8 (ANU included) push for a funding system under which course fees could drastically increase. What the university management thinks and what students might think are two very different viewpoints.
So student newspapers are important for critical information and a critical difference in perspective. The problem is that it is very difficult to convince the majority of the student body to sit down and read something that won’t contribute to their course mark.
Perhaps, then, student newspapers should take all means necessary to inform their demographic. Guerrilla tactics may be in order. We saw a cover with tasteful nudity and a “sex foldout” in the last issue. I don’t see a problem with this, as long as the end result is to keep the student body informed on issues about which they should really be thinking. The editing team just needs to ensure that this kind of marketing doesn’t disintegrate the paper into a glorified Cosmo.
The tactic of course needs to be balanced against the image and reputation of Woroni. This should not present a problem however; Woroni is known as a pro-student but politically impartial newspaper which targets university students. This gives the paper a bit more leeway when compared to a newspaper which has a readership of older, more conservative types.
So not such a bad thing after all. Congratulations, Woroni, for managing to find a way to get students more engaged with their university, without being smutty or crass.
It looks like a little nudity goes a long way.