Thursday, February 21, 2013

On pace for a Pacemaker?

The 2012 Pacemaker contest book arrived in the mail last week and it didn't have shots of The Orion or on the pages that showed the winners. Both were nominated for Pacemakers (an honor in itself), but not making the winners circle got me thinking about what the paper and website need to do to get back there.

Helpfully, the Pacemaker judges provided some general comments about this year's winners at the beginning of the online section that can be used as a guide. I've converted their comments into a checklist:

__  Recognizes the importance of a newsy website
__  Combines timeliness with strong writing
__  Does not simply reflect the print newspaper's content and publication schedule
__  Provides web-based content such as liveblogs or video
__  Feeds tweets into the website (the most consistent example of truly digital content)
__  Has clear writing
__  Has strong photography
__  Has clean design
__  Engages the audience (one website had 48 comments on a particular story).

I think most Orion staffers would agree this year's can put checks next to a lot more of those items than last year's could.

Still, I'd like to suggest that editors (and not just the online editor) should print this list and tape it to their computer monitors. That way, they can be thinking all the time about how to keep pushing toward excellence.

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