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Web only draft

  1. 1. Web Only:Taking the Newspaper Online<br />(Everything I’ve learned in the last 6 months)<br />
  2. 2. Steve Matson, adviser<br />The Academy Times, Crossings<br />Charles Wright Academy, Tacoma<br />Northwest Regional Director, JEA<br />Why didYOU choose this session?<br />Welcome & Introductions<br />
  3. 3. BACKGROUNDto the conversion my studentsrecently made of their newspaper<br />The Academy Times has been in print since 1988<br />Tabloid Newspaper of 8-24 pages (1988–2003)<br />8 x 10 color News Magazine of 8-48 pages (2004–2009)<br />Web Only Newspaper (since Jan. 6, 2010)<br />
  4. 4. PROBLEMSthat led toconversion from print<br />The root causes for the following problems is the subject for another talk, but they are familiar to advisers: schedule competition for AP and college prep classes, administrative hostility to a free student press, the economy and budget cuts, etc.<br />
  5. 5. Small staff of six.<br />Trouble generating enough good stories to meet minimum of 8 pages.<br />Even if we published 8 paper pages, the result was unsatisfying for staff and readers. The quality remained good, but the issue was too thin.<br />If we delayed publication until we had more stories to fill an issue or make an issue longer, stories became old and stale. We found ourselves publishing old news or choosing to ignore spot news in favor of non-timely feature stories.<br />Then budget cuts eroded our ability to print in color.<br />Then the school began cutting credits for journalism.<br />We felt like we were in a death spiral.<br />Problems Staying in Print <br />
  6. 6. Feb. 2009<br />
  7. 7. December 2010<br />
  8. 8. STAFF RESISTANCEto Going Online<br />For years, we considered making a Web site to accompany our print publication. Didn’t happen. Lately, I advocated becoming a print-only publication as a way to modernize and cope with difficulties.<br />But the staff did not want to do this, and the AT editor makes the final decision on such matters.<br />Staff liked having the paper publication in their hands and they believed students did too.<br />They did not think students would go to their site if it was not on paper.<br />Even if readers did visit the AT online, the staff would not have the satisfaction of seeing it read on campus.<br />The staff liked laying out with InDesign and didn’t want to give it up.<br />
  9. 9. As a long-time Adobe shop, we assumed that the application we should use for a Web site would be whatever Adobe makes. This turns out to be Dreamweaver, along with companion products Flash and Fireworks. So we bought the Dreamweaver CS4. I sent two staff members to a summer camp in Iowa to learn Dreamweaver. We bought some extra training manuals, and we watched some training videos. We decided to build an online-only Web site in Dreamweaver.<br />Online ConversionOur initial mistake<br />
  10. 10. My students decided they would do one more semester—Fall, 2009—as a print publication while they built their online site. Then in November I had a momentous conversation with an expert in scholastic journalism Web sites. His name is Aaron Manfull, and he is my colleague on the JEA Board of Directors. He is chair of JEA’s Digital Media Committee.<br />When I asked him for advice in going online, he asked me about our progress. I said we had just bought Dreamweaver CS4 and were trying to learn how to use it.<br />He said: “Dang! I’ve got to write and post that article!” I said “What article?” He said, the one entitled,“Don’t Buy Dreamweaver—You’re Making a Huge Mistake!”<br />
  11. 11. So, if not Dreamweaver,WHAT?<br />Instead, use a<br />Content Management System<br />Work in the Cloud!<br />
  12. 12. Content Management System software is used to create and manage the content for a Web site in a collaborative environment. It provides for the storage, maintenance and retrieval of HTML and XML documents and all related image, audio and video files.<br />A CMS is typically dependent on a database, which stores content, allowing it to be easily rearranged and reorganized in categories, modules, or pages on a Web site.<br />A CMS will usually provide all the programs necessary for Web site development, but it may also include or accept plug-ins that provide banner advertising, shopping carts, blogs, wikis, newsletters, opinion polls, chat rooms and forums. The computer languages used to code a CMS are: PHP, CSS, HTML, and Javascript.<br />CMS Defined<br />
  13. 13. Allows for a large number of people to contribute to and share stored data<br />Controls access to data, based on user roles.User roles define what information each user can view or edit<br />Aids in easy storage and retrieval of data<br />Reduces repetitive duplicate input<br />Improves the ease of analysis/report writing<br />Improves communication between users<br />Benefits of a CMS<br />
  14. 14. The following are all free, full-featured CMS systems. Their code can be manually edited and are also customizable with widgets and plug-ins.<br />Wordpress: current version 2.9.2, started in 2003 as blogging software [web log]. It is the most popular CMS, and probably the most author-friendly and reader friendly.<br />Drupal: is particularly customizable, adaptable, and powerful if you know how to write and edit computer code languages, such as PHP (hypertext processor), CSS (cascading style sheets) , Javascript, and HTML (hypertext markup language). Drupal is probably the least user-friendly of the big three.<br />Joomla: also gives code editors the ability to flexibly customize a Web site by manually entering code; it is more user-friendly than Drupal; it is less user-friendly than Wordpress.<br />Examples of Open Source CMS<br />
  15. 15. Examples (continued)<br />Others:Movable Type, Typepad, Vox, Blogger, Tumblr, Silverstripe, Clear Content, SquareSpace<br />Commercial CMS: are more technical and specific CMS; sold and serviced by a company to other companies.<br />Proprietary CMS: When a company commissions experts to create a CMS specifically for its own company, who then owns and controls everything about it.<br />High School Journalism. Org: The CMS system, domain name, and host site are all arranged for you—for free! This is a public service of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.<br />
  16. 16. Tentatively choose a CMS(but don’t download it right away).Some of the next steps may be influenced by what CMS you choose.<br />Get aDomain Name.Ours was obtained through our site provider. See next step.<br />Determine aSITEto host your site: a computer in your classroom, a school server, a remote computer at a commercial site? We chose a third-party, commercial remote site called SiteGround: $48 per year, includes domain name, installation of Wordpress, some tutorials and support. Many other good ones exist.<br />Steps for Going Online<br />
  17. 17. Steps (continued)<br />Choose a theme, template, or skin: Free or Premium?<br />Many templates are absolutely free. Premium themes sold by third-party vendors cost from $30 to $100. Our premium Wordpress theme cost $60 from an online company (in Belgium!). Some vendors that sell premium themes will also arrange hosting, domain names, and various levels of technical support in a deluxe package price. They will give you tutorials, email support, phone support, or do it for you. The more you want, the more expensive the package will cost.<br />Install your CMSon your site. SiteGround installed ours for us when we signed up for site hosting. Other host sites will do the same.<br />Install your theme, template, or skin. After paying, we downloaded the theme we purchased to our computer, then uploaded it to our site on SiteGround. Not hard. Follow directions. We used Fetch(an FTP application free to schools) to do this.<br />
  18. 18. Steps (continued)<br />Post contentright away.<br />*THIS MAY BE THE BEST TIP OF THIS TALK*<br /> We made the mistakeof trying to customize an empty site, and we wasted a lot of time. We tried to make Wordpress do things it wasn’t designed to do, and it seemed to us that things “didn’t work.” This was not the case. You will be more able to change settings, customize the theme, and “design” the site if you FIRST post lots of stories, photos, and ads into the database of the CMS.<br />THENstart to personalize the site.<br />To help us, we read FAQs and tutorials on the Wordpress site, watched video tutorials, emailed questions to our premium theme provider, and read information on JEADigitalMedia.org. We also read tech books from the local bookstore.<br />Keep Posting!Several posts per week, some short, some long.<br />Every post should have a graphic.<br />Keep Tinkeringwith design and setting. Trial and Error. After the creation of your site, set a goal of doing two or three new things per month.<br />
  19. 19. The Good<br />More spot news<br />More news the readers can use<br />You will take and publish more photos<br />Greater timeliness. Publish every week, sometimes many times<br />Immediate gratification for an author motivates staff to be more productive<br />Publishing new kinds of content: Polls. Videos and podcasts to come soon. Possible links with Facebook and Twitter<br />Immediate feedback in the form of blog comments<br />Automated measuring of the site’s traffic with Google Analytics (and others)<br />Parents and alumni have found our publication and like seeing it<br />Staff are learning 21st Century Technology and Journalism<br />Going Web Only Will Change theWay You Practice Journalism<br />
  20. 20. The Not-So-Good<br />Staff do miss seeing students read a paper publication.<br />Some former readers haven’t crossed over to reading online.<br />Less control over graphics. You have to size and edit photos to fit a specific size or pixel density.<br />Students are doing less design than when they used InDesign to make a print publication.<br />It takes a concerted, deliberate promotional campaign to get readers to view your work. And this never really ends. Must continue.<br />Not everyone has Internet access, or they don’t “carry” it around with them.<br />“Old-Fashioned People” don’t know how to read us.<br />
  21. 21. Posters around school<br />Announcements at assemblies<br />Contests!<br />Links from/to other sites<br />Facebook and Twitter<br />Publicize Your Web Site<br />