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Can the Ol’ Dirty be read?

I’m probably jinxing this but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that today’s (Friday, Jan. 30, 2009) print version of the Ol’ Dirty is actually worth reading in between classes.

The front page has what seems like a record FOUR stories gracing it. I assumed that they only covered 2 max.

Not only that but the lone op-ed piece is good. To preface, I opened it up expecting a diatribe on gays and how wonderful the LGBT is but the piece is decent, other than the crying while watching ‘Milk’ part. Gus van Sant is not that good, but that’s another thing. Anyway, Andrews actually comes across as rational, unlike certain ODE columnists named Conley.

Of course, the sports section is always good, it’s the lone saving grace of the paper. Generally, the sports section is the only thing worth reading. I don’t know how they do it but somehow they keep getting consistently good writers for sports. I lie a little bit here. There was that tool last year who said that the University should get rid of wrestling because he didn’t get it.

Here is the most amazing part about today’s issue of the Emerald.

Not counting the classifieds there are 28 advertisements (including ones for the Emerald) in this issue. Sure it sounds like a lot for an eight page spread but considering that normally the Emerald has 40+ for eight pages that number is astonishing. If you count the classifieds there are 47 ads total.

This means that there are actually words in today’s Emerald. Stories, pictures even. My god.

With the news of the I-fee going down and the Emerald actually producing a readable paper…

It’s a damn good Friday.

  1. Sakaki says:

    Frankly, I think the Emerald serves a purpose. What purpose? To show the students in the rest of America how NOT to run a student newspaper.

  2. Kenneth says:

    Oh boy, its about to get spicy between the two campus publications!

    You guys fire this one off, and the ODE challenges your integrity a few days later. I can’t wait for this one to go to round 2!

  3. T says:

    It’s not a good sign when the communications dude is calling you out for not getting back to him. … if, of course, it’s actually him … er.

  4. Kai Davis says:

    Not the weekly, Ian, its the Emeralds new quarterly(?) publication.

    I thought the first issue was shit and the latest issue was 1/2+ ads, more ads in the form of ‘awards,’ and like 2 pages of actual content.

    Toilet paper. Glossy, shiny toilet paper, but toilet paper.

  5. Ian says:

    Probably because only homeless people would take advice from the Eugene Weekly.

  6. Thunderlove says:

    Their new magazine says the best place to nap in eugene is in the library. #rd place was at home. How could you not want to be napping on your couch instead of the library

  7. nike urbanism duk says:

    But wait…… you have not seen the Emeralds glossy new magazine. That new rag makes that senior news garbage paper seem pretty hot.

  8. Kai Davis says:


    I’d love to have a meeting with you about ASUO coverage for a new project I’m working on.

    Please send me an email at and I’ll give you some more information about what we’re planning.


  9. “I have a hard time believing that there is nothing exciting happening at the largest campus for higher education in the state. The good stories are out there, the ODE just needs to make an effort to go find it.”

    I have sent more than one email to Alex Tomchak offering my open book of ASUO goings-on, initiatives and policies. This email has included my cell phone number. I have requested meetings with him to connect on coverage of the ASUO and to create a dialog for providing accurate, honest information to the ODE. I haven’t heard anything back.

    Andrew Plambeck
    ASUO Communications Director

  10. Kai Davis says:


    No the ODE isn’t that bad. Its quite good, actually. But for all the prestige it has on campus it isn’t delivering that much. I’d like to think that instead of ‘not being that bad,’ the ODE could be quite good.

  11. Kai Davis says:

    Hey Andy,

    I’m not a journalist. I’m an Economics major, but I’m the publisher for The Comic Press and business manager for another journalism related venture.

    That said, I agree with you. The Emerald needs to find more exciting news on and off campus that appeals to the students attending the U of O. I think experience working on a college newspaper is great and I wish more talent from inside and outside the j-school flooded the campus publications with applications and more papers started up to give content.

    The traditional idea of the print industry is changing dramatically. I’m not sure if the assessment that daily newspapers will no longer exist in 10 years is correct, but I agree that what we see as a daily newspaper may be far removed from a daily newspaper in 10 years.

    I think the ODE could do well from an infusion of new blood and a trimming of dead wood in the form of advisers, but I doubt that will happen. I hope it will though.

  12. Tyler S says:

    Oh the Emerald isn’t that bad…….

  13. Andy says:

    Scott said” I think that a lot of the problem with the ODE lie in the fact that it

  14. […] Can the Ol’ Dirty be read? – Oregon Commentator. […]

  15. […] night, I realized we’ve started bitching about the Daily Emerald in the peanut gallery

  16. Robert Saks says:


  17. Poop says:

    Ode = me, poop

  18. Daniel says:

    @Kai, great analysis. How soon do you think the Emerald will have the leadership in place to do that though?

  19. Jake says:

    The one problem with the J-School is that it’s an absolute crap shoot who teaches Reporting I and II. Sometimes they get quality adjuncts to teach it and sometimes they don’t. I was fortunate to get two really good instructors for both classes. Because there isn’t a consistent staff teaching the classes students don’t get the same education.

    I also think that the ODE has suffered this year because the people running it have a background in page design. Designers inherently choose aesthetics over content. It’s why they are designers and not reporters.

  20. Scott says:

    I think that a lot of the problem with the ODE lie in the fact that it’s a 30+ hour a week job with little pay/payoff.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind working for the ODE to get the experience (and selfishly the clips) but because of my financial status I need to hold down a job and there’s no way that I’m going to suffer through an ODE schedule at the same time.

    Ossie: I agree with you that it says something about the J-school, since I’m going through it currently I’ll offer this. The J-school teaches you to be safe. I don’t think that the J-school knows how to teach students to really dig deeper. Sure, they say dig deeper in classes, but it’s dig deeper because you saw a hobo and you should want to know if maybe he has a story to tell. Everybody has a story to tell but that doesn’t mean it’s relevant to student life or campus.
    I feel that the J-school doesn’t know how to teach students to actually be investigative journalists. This relates to the ODE in that they’re looking for content and maybe not relevance or importance.

  21. Ossie says:

    I have a hard time believing that there is nothing exciting happening at the largest campus for higher education in the state. The good stories are out there, the ODE just needs to make an effort to go find it.

    Does the J-School play any part in this? I know the ODE is independent; but, a vast majority of its staff are J-School products. Does the ODE represent what is being taught in the J-School?

  22. Kai Davis says:


    Your agenda is a little transparent, but on solid ground. 🙂


    Cutting costs from an area where costs can be cut makes perfect sense. I go through the same printing company as ODE for The Comic Press. I have a rough idea of what their cost per issue is. I have a rough idea of their scale and their staff costs. I have a rough idea of their revenue from ads.

    By trying to convert people to content on their website they’re losing readers. What’s the conversion from print to web? I’m sure it isn’t as high as anyone would want, even with many magazines folding for web only content, it doesn’t seem like the ideal strategy.

    I remember at the start of the year the ODE had a nice big ‘Read more online!’ sidebar in the paper copy. Then it disappeared. Their conversion was a lot lower than they expected I bet.

    People aren’t reading the ODE for the campus journalism because there isn’t any campus drama to read about. Someone pointed out its sports, some AP stories, and then shitty campus news. But that isn’t the ODE’s fault and going to a weekly schedule may just hurt their bottom line when their ad revenue shrinks.

    The ODE is in the business of packing content – no matter how awkward – around ads in order to continue. Cutting costs can be achieved by identifying ad space that isn’t bringing in the revenue they want, getting a higher conversion to the website and selling ads there, and cutting color from the paper, to name three top-of-my-head ideas.

    But that isn’t the full issue. The problem is that either nothing exciting is happening on campus or the ODE isn’t reporting the exciting things that are happening. I’d put my money more on the second because I don’t want to shoot down our campus life, but its a combination of both.

    The most stunning example of the disconnect as when I received a ‘breaking news story’ from the ODE about the senate denying Athan’s nomination 24-48 hours after the OC reported this. A former writer for the ODE told me that their legacy production system results in a lot of time copy editing the stories before they’re pushed out.

    That’s great! Quality control is good. The problem is community reporting tools like micro blogging, twittering, or snapping a picture and slamming it on the website as action happens (like the OC’s flickr account) just don’t work in that system.

    The ODE stepped away from University funding because of a desire to serve as the campus / ASUO / administrative watchdog and a sense that it would be hard to do so while receiving funding. I don’t think that the ODE is living up to that mantra. Maybe its time they returned to a fully funded ASUO program, with all the over site, management, and potential for growth and change that would bring.

    The ODE needs room to try new things, make mistakes, and get interested (and interesting) people who want to slam content to a blog, write stories, take pictures, and in general produce content about events, news, and drama on campus that people want to read.

  23. Daniel says:

    @Kai, what about going to once-a-week in print, and daily online (wait, that might require a better CMS). “Cutting costs” is only going to take the daily paper from bad to worse.

    @Ossie, I think the support is more to the tune of $120,000.

  24. Ossie says:

    In the past, there has been some serious consideration done about whether or not the student body wanted to continue to support the Ol’ Dirty. There’s some good stuff on the issue in the OC Archive. I know there has been at least one vote to cut all student funding to the ODE – I think this number hovers around $80K – $100K, can anyone verify? If there is any type of consensus growing on campus against the direction the Ol’ Dirty is taking, might be worth bringing up again.

  25. Kai Davis says:


    They aren’t an ASUO funded operation. They do receive a stipend (or so wiki tells me) to assist with distribution costs, but staff pay, printing, and coverage costs come from their own pockets. Hence the necessity for ads.

    What the emerald needs to do is cut costs until it becomes self sustaining again. Ditch color, shrink in size, maximize quality and equate production costs with the funds you have available and what you can bring in.

    A Weekly Emerald (heh) could be a good bet, but I think the University Experience cries for a daily and some other paper / magazine / entrepreneur would move in to fill the void if the Emerald became a weekly. I’m not saying that its a bad idea. I really think it would do them good to switch to a weekly publication. But something else would spring up.

  26. Alex Peters says:

    I usually only pick up the Emerald for a laugh.

    I don’t understand what expenses they have that reduced their paper to pure advertisement, but I’m baffled on a daily basis by the minimal amount of content they are responsible for. The actual reporting could be done by two ambitious chimpanzees, and yet we’ve still been getting nothing but crap from their enormous staff of humans.

    If I had any say in the matter at all the Emerald would:

    1. Stop presenting itself as news because half of the shit they cover isn’t newsworthy to begin with, and then another half of the content from the paper that actually is newsworthy doesn’t even try to be viewpoint neutral.

    2. Drop the daily part of the name and only send it to print once a week to avoid the pressure of deadlines that lead them to publish bullshit stories that eventually devolve in to more advertising. If you can’t think of any examples of this happening off the top of your head I’ve posted a link here for your convenience….

  27. Kai Davis says:

    I can’t make it to campus today, but how much of the eight pages are consumed by ads? What portion of the 8 pages is ads. I’m wondering if they have some larger, higher paying ads or are having trouble getting financing.

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