Friday, October 26, 2012

Sorting out platforms: The Orion App

The Orion will have one more way to deliver news, information and advertising to its readers a little later this semester. The paper has contracted with iCampusTimes to provide a mobile platform, the version of the paper and website that phone and tablet users will see.

The biggest difference between the new version and the old Orion app will be possibilities for ad revenue (advertisers will be able to put coupons on an Offers page that students will redeem by taking their phones into the business), but the app will also provide opportunities for reporting the news.

From left: The Offers page, what an Offer page looks like, the home page for news, a single story page and a section page with a list of current stories. (iCampusTimes screenshot).

The app interface can accept both RSS feeds and html links, so just about any content the news department can dream up, the app can deliver to readers' Apple and Android phones. The interface emphasizes editorial art, so it should be more attractive than the old Orion interface. ------------>

Kelsy Jehle, the paper's business manager, has suggested a beefed-up calendar should be a top priority for the app. That would be a great idea. A page for what's happening today on campus would be another good use for one of the 12 app home-page buttons.

I'd also nominate the daily webscast as a button, along with four existing sections of news, sports, features and opinion. I'd add a fifth: entertainment. A multimedia button might help the staff pick up the pace on providing more videos and narrated slideshows. And at some point, news and sports reporters could even use an application like Qik to stream live video from events to user's phones.

Some college papers using iCampusTimes have buttons for their Facebook and Twitter feeds, which is worth considering. I also like the idea of other services: Chico and campus maps, bus schedules, etc. I just learned about a new virtual community bulletin board service, mimiboard, that could generate more involvement from users, especially campus clubs and other groups.

If you have other ideas about how to use the new app, share them here or talk with Editor-in-Chief Kacey Gardner. And be sure to download the app when it's ready!

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