Friday, May 24, 2013

New video promotes working at The Orion

Kudos to the staffers who put together the new Orion recruiting video!

A suggestion: At the end of the day Friday, replace today's webcast with this promo so visitors to will see it all summer. That would be so much better than leaving up what will soon become an old show.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Should The Orion be more like RedEye?

To follow up on last week's staff survey...

If the people The Orion thinks of as its audience (students) aren't picking up the paper, should the paper make changes to give the audience what it wants?

Several years ago, the Chicago Tribune decided to do just that. The company launched a new, free paper called RedEye aimed at readers in their 20s and 30s. One look at shows how different the publication is from its more staid parent. Entertainment news gets a front seat and more traditional news -- while still prominent on the site and in the paper -- is written with a younger audience in mind (more art, stories that are shorter, brighter, sassier).

I'm not suggesting The Orion or become the RedEye, but are there elements of The Tribune's approach that would make Chico State's paper and website more attractive and relevant to readers?

Use the comment link below to offer an opinion.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Had to share this spot for the Providence Journal

Great ad campaign for the Providence Journal emphasizing the value of journalism by nailcommunications. You can watch the whole campaign on their Facebook page.

End-of-semester feedback about The Orion

The Orion staffers at Wednesday's critique had some interesting things to say about their experiences on the paper and website this semester, some of which should help next year's editors set a direction. Thanks to those of you who participated!

The majority of those responding wrote that their experience was positive and used terms like educational, rewarding and fun to describe it. A few people, though, weren't that thrilled. They described their semester as stressful and exhausting.

Photo by Steve Eng, used under a Creative Commons licence.
Staffers said The Orion's strongest suits are writing and reporting, breaking news coverage and design.

The clear number one weakness of the paper, they wrote, was photos.

Advice for the future
When asked what single change the paper should make to serve readers better, the Orionites suggested:
• more stories relevant to students
• more visually appealing
• more interaction with readers.

Fixing those things might go a long way to addressing the most troubling answer in the survey. I asked: What do your friends say to your face about the newspaper? The most common answer was: They don't read it. I suggest you make it your mission to find out why.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quick end-of-semester tune-up

The end of the semester is always an exciting but nerve-racking time at The Orion as a new group of editors stands in for the departing newsroom leaders. Remembering the rough transition at the end of last semester -- virtually no stories posted to during the week -- I thought it would be helpful to post a couple of reminders and make some suggestions for a website tune-up.

Without art, the app news page is uninviting
Don't forget the photos. The website had a terrific shot of the bike path fire last week, but the app version of I looked at this morning shows that was an aberration. No art makes a dull website. I'll pitch again for developing some sort of news icon that can stand in when no other art is available, but not having a photo of people getting their heads shaved for the St. Baldrick's story is a real head-scratcher.

What's my byline? One easy improvement for the website would be adding the writer's byline to the end of stories. Traditionally, this is done by typing a pair of hyphens or a dash in front of the writer's name, then making the element italic. Like this:
-- Mark Plenke
It can be placed flush right or flush left.

Own breaking news. In one of the best webcasts of the semester on Friday, Annie Maize told viewers the baseball team would be playing in the conference tournament this weekend. Unfortunately, the only evidence of the team's fate was a Twitter post about the Wildcats getting an NCAA bid with a link to the Chico State athletics website. Fans shouldn't have to wait until Wednesday to find out what happened.

Put the "team" in team. Sports reporters on the webcast continue to call the baseball team "baseball," as in "baseball will travel to L.A. this weekend." Please say "baseball team" or "the Wildcats" instead.

Tweet, tweet! After a very quiet week, @theorion_news was active again with news about the fraternity suspension appeals and African Takeover Day, but @theorion_sports went the other direction with just one Tweet last week. Don't let dead week be a dead week on your Twitter accounts.

Get ready for summer. When the newsroom empties out next week, The Orion will be on hiatus until sometime in August. The last newsprint edition of the semester will sit in racks over the summer, and the webpage will be frozen in time. Remember that any news will be old news for those who pick up the paper or navigate to the website and plan accordingly.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Catching up on Orion awards

Writers for The Orion took home two first-place awards at the California Newspaper Publishers Association better college newspaper contest last month.
Isaac Brambila's feature about a Chico State athlete's struggle with bipolar disorder was the top sports story in the four-year university category.  
Katrina Cameron and Quinn Western took top honors for news stories with their coverage of Greek system suspensions last fall.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rusty Maples plays Chico on May 17

For those of you who asked me to let you know when my son's band will be in town, here you go!

Storytelling through social-media curation: Boston Marathon project

Emily Tolan, a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, put together media and social media clips for a project about the Boston Marathon bombings that is posted on District, the college's student media site. This terrific example of news curation has been played more than 30,000 times.