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Zick appoints study committee to consider yearbook's future

November 3, 2008

Kenneth A.  Zick, Wake Forest University’s vice president for student life, has appointed a study committee to consider and evaluate the future of The Howler, Wake Forest’s student yearbook.

The move comes following nearly a decade of declining involvement of students on the yearbook staff and declining interest in the publication.  Two weeks ago, on the recommendation of The Howler staff, faculty advisor, and the Wake Forest Media Board treasurer, the board voted to suspend production of the 2008-2009 yearbook.  Previously, in light of declining interest and quality, the Student Budget Advisory Committee of Student Government cut The Howler’s budget by $60,000.  Student Government has been faced with an increasing number of student organizations vying for funds that have remained relatively flat over a five-year period. 

During The Howler’s SBAC hearing, it was not made clear to committee members that yearbooks are generally paid for in installments, and that the final installment for the 2007-2008 book would be made during the 2008-2009 academic year.  Following the final payment for last year, there is only a small amount of funding remaining to complete a book for the current year.  Until a decision has been made about the future format of The Howler, the editorial staff will continue to collect photographs for the University’s archival records.

A recent article in The Economist (July 3, 2008) noted that

“One fixture of college life is rapidly disappearing. Yearbooks, those beloved annual publications recording the events and people of the academic year, are suffering from plummeting print-runs, or are even being dropped altogether, in colleges across the country.

The phenomenon is due in part to the price of the hard-bound volumes, typically as high as $75. For cash-strapped students facing ever-rising tuition and living costs they are a luxury that many can’t afford. But the main cause is not the cost so much as the replacement of print with electronic media by and for the Facebook and MySpace generation. With social networks linking hundreds of friends and offering digital photographs and videos the traditional yearbook looks like a bit of a dinosaur.” 

The study committee will be asked to submit a report by no later than the end of February 2009.  This report will be shared with the university’s Student Life Committee, Student Government, and the Media Board.  Students, faculty, staff, and alumni will be represented on the committee.

Press Contacts:

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

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