Print Internal Audience Tabloids and Newsletters: University of Alberta - Gold Medal

Category 22A: Print Internal Audience Tabloids and Newsletters
University of Alberta, Folio

Contact: Richard Cairney, associate director, Office of Public Affairs, Sixth Floor, General Services Building, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2H1, Phone: (780) 492-0439, e-mail:

Folio is the newspaper of the faculty and staff at the University of Alberta. It is published every two weeks (20 times a year) between September and June and has a circulation of 7,700. Its main audience (6,700) is on-campus professors and support staff. The remaining 1,000 editions are mailed to government, industry leaders, donors, and alumni. Folio’s mandate is “to serve as a credible news source for internal audiences by communicating accurate and timely information about issues, programs, people, and events.”

Folio achieves this by taking a journalistic approach to editorial content. Rather than servicing as a “house organ” for university administration, it examines tough issues the university grapples with in a balanced manner, earning a reputation as a credible news sources as well as an effective communications vehicle.

Folio helps strengthen the identity and pride of the University of Alberta and brings a strong sense of community to the faculty and staff.

Folio’s role within the University of Alberta and its impact on readers is positive and well documented. The paper is considered a lively source of timely information about the university, its faculty and staff, and the issues that concern them.

In January 2006, Folio launched an initiative to educate its readers about the University of Alberta’s international initiatives – an area in which our present has mandated growth. Folio’s editor produced a special edition of the newspaper profiling the university’s international initiatives. A week after the issue was circulated, we conducted a readership survey that asked not only the same general questions we’d asked in previous readership surveys, but also specific questions about the special theme issue and its effectiveness.

Specifically, readers were asked to rate their understanding of the university’s global initiatives, and their importance, before and after reading the special issue of Folio.

Readers reported an increased understanding of the university’s international programs and a better understanding of why these initiatives are important, after reading this special issue.

The readership survey, designer by Folio editors and the university’s Population Research Lab, was conducted online, through an e-mail invitation of 1,200 randomly generated on-campus e-mail addresses. More than 400 readers responded. This strategy proved to be effective and affordable and will be repeated every second year.

As a result of this success, Folio produced a second theme issue, at the beginning of the academic year, coinciding with an annual event known as the Celebration of Teaching and Learning, as affirmation of the value the university and its students place on their core mission: teaching and learning. This edition was remarkable well received by readers.

Folio is staffed by two full-time writer/editors (an editor and assistant editor). It also relies on two half-time writers and a stable of freelance contributors for editorial content. Photography is handled by writers with the exception of the Back Page photo feature, which is often freelanced out to student photographers. Advertising sales are contracted out. Proofreading is handled internally.

Graphic design and layout take place within the university on a cost-recovery basis, by the university’s Creative Services Department. One designer focuses on the newspaper’s production, assigning “skybox” and Back Page duties on a rotating basis throughout the department. The newspaper is printed privately.

Folio operates on a budget of about $64,000 per year, depending on advertising revenue. Financially, Folio’s funding sources are split roughly evenly between the university and income from display and classified ads. Each issue of Folio costs about $3,200 excluding salaries.