Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer reading assignment

I was reconfiguring my News Editing and Copy Reading course for next fall when I rediscovered a piece from news designer Alan Jacobson that I think everyone on The Orion should read.

Jacobson is the guy who redesigned the Bakersfield Californian (and a dozen other papers) several years ago. His firm is Brass Tacks Design, and its website is filled with stunning, often radical, design ideas.

The piece I'd like Orionites to read is titled "How to Sell More Newspapers." While The Orion doesn't try to sell papers at all (it's distributed free, of course), its goal is to serve readers, which is really what Jacobson's treatise is about. Here's the link.

I'd like to hear your impressions and comments. Add 'em below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An alternative for The Orion webcast

It's clear video is going to play a growing role on website next fall, but should it take the form of a daily webcast, as it did this year, or something different?

I keep coming back to an iPhone app I downloaded a couple of weeks ago called Now This News. Instead of a video news show, the creators of the app (there's also a website) have decided to produce individual stories structured like TV packages and voiced by different anchor/reporters. The style is closer to news on E! or MTV, but the stories are fairly typical TV news fare.

As Forbes' Jeff Bercovici observed when he described the new service last September, the choice to produce and post individual stories instead of a newscast has several advantages:
• The news doesn't have to fit into a 3-minute or 30-minute wrapper, as a traditional news show does, so filler stories aren't necessary.
• Producers aren't tempted to run stories that are better suited for print because they have time to fill or feel compelled to cover them.
• The individual stories are more likely to be shared on social media, an emphasis of the site.
• Unlike a conventional newscast, which he described as "reporters talking about the news in stand-ups or interviewing each other round-table-style" and which doesn't typically generate a lot of traffic on the Web, the sites stories are built with sharing in mind.

"By going the non-linear, on-demand route, Now This is in essence betting that it can produce only compelling, viral content without any of the filler," Bercovici wrote.

This format seems like a good fit for The Orion, which can assign and cover  stories when staffing is available and concentrate on producing solid video pieces instead of trying to fill up a time slot.

Bercovici says Now This News reinvents TV for the Internet age. I think it's worth at least a look.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Are you committing journalism this summer?

The Plumas Hall basement is empty this summer, but that doesn't mean Orionites have put away their smartphones and notebooks. An impressive number of staffers are putting their skills to work for media and other companies:

Next fall's managing editor, Quinn Western, is interning at the Fresno Bee where, she writes,"I'm a general assignment reporter for news, sports and features. I'm covering anything from double-murder trials to crazy Valley heat."

Opinion editor and new grad Carly Caumiant has been hired as an editorial assistant at Peninsula Publishing in Newport Beach. "Writing, editing, interviewing business builders, doing layout for six different national magazines."

Jenna Valdespino
Spring EIC Jenna Valdespino is working in magazines, too. She has a six-month paid internship with Via, the American Automobile Association's publication for Nevada, Utah and Northern California.

Annie Maize has taken her camera and sports reporting skills across town to KHSL-TV, where she started an internship this week covering sports.

Former Orion Sports Editor Allie Colosky is the news sports editor for the Lake County Leader in Polson, Mont.

Isaac Brambila, former opinion editor and sports reporter, landed a reporting job at the Lake County Record-Bee in Lakeport.

Samantha Youngman, whose last of many jobs at The Orion was multimedia editor, has been hired full-time at The Clorox Company in Oakland as a graphic designer.

Next fall's EIC Ben Mullin is one of several current and former Orionites at the Sacramento Bee. He's a reporting intern.

Spring grad Anthony Siino and last fall's EIC Kacey Gardner are both working on the Bee's copy desk. This is Kacey's second summer there as an editing intern.

Spring sports editor Trevor Platt's first job out of college is in Chico. He's working for Social High Rise. "We do Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+. After we get clients on board we create and run these pages for them so they can focus on what they are good at and we can focus what we are good at," he writes.

Features Editor Katrina Cameron also is in Chico, working as the Enterprise-Record's health care and higher education reporter.

Also at the E-R is last spring's web editor, Dan Reidel. He's the paper's new weekend reporter.

Juniper Rose is there, too, as a summer reporting intern. She'll be The Orion's photo editor next fall.

New grad Jen Moreno is a correspondent for the E-R.

Congratulations, everyone!

If you have a job or an internship this summer, I'd like to hear from you, too. Just add a comment below.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A look at the present, past and future of student newspapers

I just tweeted a link to Dan Reimold's piece in Mediashift about a student's research into the future of student newspapers. It's well worth a read for anyone involved in The Orion, and worth a summary here.

The student, former University of Virginia Cavalier Editor-in-Chief Matthew Cameron, comes to three basic conclusions, according to Reimold:
• Student newspapers have to wake up to the the reality that the economics of publishing have already changed. "At this point, daily printing is not necessarily the best way to reach the student audience and certainly not the most cost-effective way on a lot of campuses," Cameron told Reimold.
• Student publications should be conducting market research to determine the right mix of digital and traditional media for their campuses.
• It's a good idea to have some professionals in student media organizations to provide continuity, expertise and institutional memory.

The historical sections of Cameron's paper, particularly the recent changes at The Daily Emerald at Oregon and The Red and Black at Georgia, are interesting reading and provide evidence that seismic changes are taking place in campus newsrooms across the country.

There's lots to consider here for The Orion. The newspaper is past due for a readership survey, and the rest of Cameron's recommendations for the continued health of student media organizations would be a great starting point for a conversation about the future.