About two years ago, a student transferred to St. Bonaventure. He came down to The BV with a huge portfolio of photos and clippings. We were impressed, and the editors encouraged him to join the staff. He did and soon became online editor. He was passionate about launching the website ahead and creating graphics for the newspaper. He made a few mistakes along the way, like anyone does, but a few were too important to let go. He asked to rise up to upper management, which usually takes a year and a half. Soon after he was told the way promotions worked, he left The BV. He wanted to start his own paper.
In a way, he was too much for The BV to handle. He had capabilites – a lot of which The BV never grasped. He knew how to market his work. He was tech savvy. He loved to break news. He had the tools to get stuff done efficiently. After he left, one editor told me that we “missed the boat” on him. Other editors just laughed. They were glad he was gone.
And so began The Intrepid – “a 21st-century newspaper providing St. Bonaventure University with hyper-localized content for its community by its community,” claims its tagline. The editors of The BV had a beef with The Intrepid. I must admit; I did too. We questioned its credibility on a daily basis. A 21st century newspaper? It’s on Tumblr! Content created by is community? Please, it’s one guy! “Where daily Bonaventure news happens?” I didn’t know news could be created on a blog. And then we’d go through the articles and laugh at the typos and make fun of the pointless stories about email systems and students “going missing.”
Whenever I was together with my journalist friends, his name always came up in conversation. It was something we couldn’t stop talking about. I started to feel bad about it. But then The Intrepid started making subtle shots at The BV. He had chosen our paper as his competition.
The editors at The BV didn’t want to admit that The Intrepid was competition. However, it was gaining staff, breaking stories before us, and promoting itself like crazy, and well, The BV wasn’t promoting itself at all.
And I, along with other editors, decided to make The BV better. We could talk about The Intrepid all wanted, but it wasn’t doing anything to improve our own paper. After all, it’s far from perfect.
We started tweeting more, trying to make the paper more interactive. We needed to know our readers better to improve our paper. I took on a marketing plan for The BV for my senior capstone, and although a lot of the plan isn’t carried out yet, there are some things that we did do.
We gave The BV a makeover. The new layout took a weekend to construct and took some brainstorming over the summer. It took a while for the editors to get used to it, but I think it works!
We started sponsoring events to get our name out there. Running the 5K for the Warming House was not only a great personal accomplishment, but I’m glad The BV’s name was attached to it.
We held contests online and at workshops. We’re starting to gain a larger online audience. We now have 1,030 fans on Facebook!
I feel like the editors are really striving to put out quality work. Maybe that’s due to the competition, or maybe that’s just how they are. The BV has much more to work on, but I believe it is that little push that got us going.
So as much as we hated The Intrepid last semester, it’s only making us better.
One thought on “1. A little competition is healthy and probably beneficial.”