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In the news media, there has been one fundamental question posed to readers over the past few years: Paper or plasma?

As our parents and grandparents pass the torch from their ink-smudged hands to our keyboard-hugging fingers, the newspaper has held its breath. Will people continue to read the news in print? Or will they demand a news Web site (like, for instance, with all of the modern bells and whistles associated with the multimedia journalism of this day and age?

This week, the outlook has been rather bleak for those print editions. As we here at The State Press expand, taking a giant leap into the unknown with our first campus-specific front page debuting on the West campus this morning, the Valley of the Sun stands to lose two newspapers — the West Times and the East Valley Tribune.

The West Times, a student newspaper that has been published at ASU’s West campus for more than a decade, will publish its final issue on Wednesday after the University cut its funding. Although we feel that it’s dangerous and journalistically shady for a newspaper that aims to cover ASU to rely solely on funding from the University, we lament the West Times’ exit from the Valley’s journalism family and hope to serve their audience as best we can with our increased West campus presence (which, of course, can also be found at

However, with all due respect to the West Times, we bemoan the upcoming exit of the East Valley Tribune from its position as the primary competitor of The Arizona Republic much, much more. On Monday, the Tribune announced a sweeping overhaul that plays like a rookie mistake in the board game Risk — a 40 percent cut of their work force, a full withdrawal from Tempe and Scottsdale, a reduction from a major metropolitan daily newspaper to a far East Valley community paper with free printed editions four days per week. All that was missing was a retreat from Kamchatka.

Sure, the Tribune has pledged to continue to cover the East Valley — minus Tempe and Scottsdale — daily on their Web site (just as we cover ASU daily on, by the way). But all joking aside, this move leaves the Republic with a near monopoly on daily news coverage in much of Maricopa County — the fourth most populous county in the United States — and even more uncertainty in the local media as we attempt to move forward.

Seriously, come January, The State Press may have a larger newsroom staff than that of the trimmed-down Tribune.

We suppose there are signs of hope in the larger newspaper market given that the Tempe campus’ Undergraduate Student Government is giving $70,000 a year from our pockets to The New York Times — a paper, mind you, with a free online component (much like The State Press has in, just in case you were wondering) — to deliver to the campus daily.

But here in the Valley, as we at The State Press ironically expand our offerings in print while two of our local competitors fold their printed products, we can only worry about what the next few years hold for our industry and our region.

What’s ultimately going to become of this paper cut? Will it only hurt us on the surface or will its effects wound us deeply? Only time will tell, and we will all have graduated when that time comes. But rest assured, we’ll look up how things have turned out on

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