Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby steps

It's nice to see the website taking incremental steps toward being a consistent daily news platform for The Orion.

Over the weekend, tweets from the Labor Day traffic stops and a story and photos from the Sacramento River float were up on the site pretty much as they happened. The daily newscast reappeared after being absent Friday with better editing and more visuals to help tell the weekend's stories. Quinn and Pedro both did solid, sober, professional work reading their copy for the camera.

These improvements are bringing the website closer to what it needs to be: the equivalent of a daily newspaper or news broadcast for Chico State students. I think it's important to keep those models in mind as you produce the site, rather than the weekly shovel the website was last year. Samantha and I talked last Wednesday about the importance of making the home page, especially, look brand new every morning and more often if there's breaking news. Monday's home page was a good start.

Here are a few more suggestions for small improvements:

- I noticed a few photos from last week were still in the rotator module at the top of the home page when I opened the page early this morning. That changed after 11 a.m., which was nice to see. It's better to have one new photo in that top-of-page position than three photos in rotation if two of them are old. (Would you EVER see day-old or week-old video on a local TV news show?).
- The video newscast had "courtesy of" photos from the Sacramento River for the float story. Are the staff photographers not sharing their work with the newscast? That should change right away.
- I had trouble finding a slideshow of photos from the river. Did one not get put together?
- An event like the float is the ideal video story because it has both sights and sounds. If a photographer is there to shoot pictures, he or she could certainly come back with 30 seconds of video for the newscast. The reporter could have, too.
- The float was also an ideal opportunity to get students to talk on camera about their experience. You KNOW hits on the site will jump when the people interviewed tell their friends they're on "TV."
- Where's the sports? Tweets, photos, videos, interviews, scores, stats, reactions from the soccer games would have been great additions WHEN THE GAME WAS HAPPENING and shortly afterward for the webpage, and part of the webscast on Mondays. Time to get the sports department off the bench!

Late add: My apologies to the sports department. The writers ARE tweeting during games and posting game results as they happen. But I and anyone else navigating to The Orion home page wouldn't know that because all the content is back on the sports section home and the tweets aren't captured on the website. Any way to get those stories up front?

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