Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arts & Entertainment returns to print edition

When The Orion downsized for budget reasons a few years ago, editors decided to roll the Arts & Entertainment section into Features. Then last year, a separate A&E section was revived online. Today's paper marks its return to the print edition.

I see some smart, smart decisions on that page this morning:
• Editors added a color position so the page could attract maximum attention at the back of the paper (it's on the next-to-last page of Section B).
• The top of the page teases events, with the web address of the section in case readers want more information.
• The bottom has a standing calendar featuring things for readers to do on or near campus over the weekend.
• A centerpiece dominates the top of the page. This week, it's a feature about a local artist with a nice environmental portrait of the subject.
• What appears to be a standing Q&A stretches down the page's left-most column.
• Both main features refer readers to additional content online: a video of the musician featured in the Q&A and an interactive timeline of the other artist's career.

Congratulations to the editors, and especially new A&E Editor Ashiah Scharaga.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A little paint, a little elbow grease

For anyone who has worked in the Plumas Hall basement recently, these photos may come as a bit of a shock.

Yes, this is The Orion office. No, a tropical depression did not come through and clean it out.

Members of the newspaper staff from last semester and this, Lewis Brockus and crews from Chico State Facilities Management wreaked this pleasant havoc. Still a little more clean up and sort-out ahead, but what a change!

Layout boards (which used to be on the left in this photo) were demolished and a table for meetings was set up. 

J&PR professors Prisca Ngondo and Janell Bauer survey the remodel, money for which came from the department budget.
Mail slot and general clutter was removed from the newsroom entrance and a new paint brightened up the space. Also added: a logo for (pictured at the top of this post). 
The old wooden desks that formed the old news desk have been replaced by tables. The Orion inherited new machines from the Tehama Hall Mac lab, which received new computers.
The business office also got a cleaner look and more open space.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Orion's new smartphone app

Editor-in-chief Ernesto Rivera has been busy this summer building The Orion's new app for iPhones and Android phones. The newspaper's managers last spring decided to dump the old iCampusTimes app, which featured a home page made of 12 tiles that served as a table of contents, and to switch to a platform support by GoodBarber, a company based in Corsica.

The change will save money and provide a clean new version of The Orion to readers.

Here are some comparisons of old and new.

The old app used tiles on its home page.
The most recent stories appear on the new app's home page.

The new app's menu is hidden on the left side of the home page.
Clicking a tile in the old app brought up a story list.
What a single story looks like on the new app.

The old app's home page gives visitors directions for downloading the new version.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's on your summer reading list?

It's August. Summer's almost over. Time to tune up the mind by putting away the beach-reading books and bite into something with substance.

Blogger and long-time journalist John Kroll recently posted his annotated list of the 100 most important books about journalism. Read his descriptions, find a book that interests you, then go to the library and check it out.

If you don't have time for a book, read "How the Smartphone Ushered in a Golden Age of Journalism" by Frank Rose. This piece for Wired magazine explains why the common knowledge that the Web is only good for listicles and short videos is 180-degrees wrong and long-form journalism is entering a new era.

My final, humble suggestion for summer reading is to read back through Eye on The Orion for perspective and ideas for the coming school year. Some of the early posts are dated, of course, but my prescriptions for how to improve the various sections of the paper and website are still relevant. They were posted back in January 2013.

See you in a few weeks!