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.

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