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Setting the Pace Online 2013


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An overview of the website category of NSPA’s signature award, The Pacemaker, with examples from the 2013 finalists and winners, presented at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, April 27, 2013.

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Setting the Pace Online 2013

  1. 1. Setting the Pace OnlineLearning from OnlinePacemaker finalistsJEA/NSPA San Francisco Convention • April 27, 2013Logan Aimone, MJENational Scholastic Press AssociationThis presentation is available at permission is given for educational use.Sunday, April 28, 13
  2. 2. IntroductionThe Pacemaker is the highest honorin scholastic journalism. For eightdecades, it has recognized trend-settersand go-getters, effort and enterprise,achievement and talent.Today, the Pacemaker continues torecognize the best student journalism inthe nation.Sunday, April 28, 13
  3. 3. Keep in mind …• The images seen in this presentation are2013 Online Pacemaker Finalists.• Winners will be announced at Saturday’sawards ceremony.• Inclusion in this presentation does notindicate a website’s status as a winner.• Do not read anything into whether anexample was included here.Sunday, April 28, 13
  4. 4. Who’s judging?• Pacemaker judges are professionalsworking in media as well as a range ofexperts familiar with student media.• A team of working digital mediajournalists from major metro media andjournalism educators judged the 2013Online Pacemakers.Sunday, April 28, 13
  5. 5. Who’s judging?• Entries are judged holistically. There isnot a rubric with points attached tocertain criteria.• Judging is by nature somewhatsubjective based on NSPA’s MultimediaGuidebook.**That was the old Guidebook. Stay tuned for info on the newGuidebook!Sunday, April 28, 13
  6. 6. How do they judge?• The number of Pacemaker finalists andwinners is proportional to the number ofentries.• The number is not fixed, but about halfof the finalists will be named winners.• This is a contest, not a critique.• Judges provide general feedback on thefinalists. Some teams are morethorough.Sunday, April 28, 13
  7. 7. What do they judge?• Coverage and Content• Interactivity and Community Tools• Breaking News• Design and Navigation• Rich MediaSunday, April 28, 13
  8. 8. Judges said top sitesstood apart for:• Combining multiple strong elements.The strongest entries brought togethersolid multimedia, refined presentationand a knack for tackling tough issues(teacher contract negotiations, budgetcuts, a suspended coach, undocumentedstudents). These publications took onimportant stories and executed themwell.• Working interactives and projects.Many were around student life issues(drunk driving, the state of the school).Sunday, April 28, 13
  9. 9. Judges said top sitesstood apart for:• Strong social media. The best Twitterusers not only tweeted links to theirstories but retweeted other members ofthe community and engaging theiraudience with questions.• Creating unique user experiences.Students seem to be using themes forWordpress and other services well toaccomplish this.Sunday, April 28, 13
  10. 10. Judges said top sitesstood apart for:• Being the go-to resource. Examplesinclude live coverage of games, calendarsand more in addition to stories about theschool. This keeps audiences comingback.• Making the mundane interesting.Onejudge enjoyed reading some of thedeeper packages about less-sexy topics,like a look at a bill that would affecteducation.Sunday, April 28, 13
  11. 11. Judges wanted more:• Better reporting. There were also someinstances of schools with ill reporting, orstories with questionable sourcing.• More multimedia. In addition to morestories with not only great reporting,most sites needed photos andmultimedia. Given students’ access toiPhones and multimedia, use morephotos with every story, so sites get morerobust.Sunday, April 28, 13
  12. 12. Coverage & Content• Coverage is comprehensive, focusing onmany aspects of the high schoolcommunity it serves, includingacademics, school activities, faculty andadministration and student affairs.• Includes Web-exclusive content, such asblogs, interactive elements, video, audioand breaking news.• Same standards for excellence as print.Sunday, April 28, 13
  13. 13. From the judges onContent & Coverage:• The front page content must be fresh.The Web cycle is not tied to the printcycle.• Go get stories — use research andenterprise. Eliminate fluff. Avoidrepeating content that can be foundelsewhere. Produce for your audience.Sunday, April 28, 13
  14. 14. From the judges onContent & Coverage:• The best sites are not doing“dump days”but rather consistently uploading newcontent at least every couple of days.• That being said, print standards ofquality still apply. Cover stories thatmatter to your community.• Don’t print a movie review that I couldget from the New York Times.Sunday, April 28, 13
  15. 15. FNHtoday.comFrancis Howell North HS • St. Charles, Mo.Coverage & ContentThe top storiesare laid out forthe reader,highlighting arange ofcontent. Thepaper’s staffsets the agendain print andonline.Sunday, April 28, 13
  16. 16. The Communicator OnlineCommunity HS • Ann Arbor, Mich.Coverage & ContentThe top story isan in-depth lookat the journeysof teenagers intreatment.Sunday, April 28, 13
  17. 17. DenebolaNewton South HS • Newton Centre, Mass.Coverage & ContentThis publicationtook a nationalstory (theBostonMarathonbombings) andmade it local byinterviewing astudent whoparticipated inthe race.Sunday, April 28, 13
  18. 18. Interactivity andCommunity Tools• Readers can interact through comments,discussions and polls.• Social networking tools (links, sharing,guides) empower and engage the reader.• Readers can submit content, story ideasand letters. There’s a method to do so.• Website uses reader-generated content.Sunday, April 28, 13
  19. 19. From the judges onInteractivity/Tools:• INTERACT. The best sites this year didnot use social platforms just to dispenseinformation but rather to engage withreaders.• Ask questions and respond to comments.• Make submitting letters & commentseasy and display them prominently.Sunday, April 28, 13
  20. 20. From the judges onInteractivity/Tools:• Meet your readers where they are. Dontuse new social media just because — useit because that’s where your readers areor are going.Sunday, April 28, 13
  21. 21. Niles West NewsNiles West HS • Skokie, Ill.Interactivity / ToolsUses several social platforms, including Pinterestand Instagram. The site includes methods tocontact the staff, archives and multiple media.Sunday, April 28, 13
  22. 22. The Feather OnlineFresno Christian HS • Fresno, Calif.Interactivity / ToolsThis site bringsits readers inthrough polls,comics andblogs.Sunday, April 28, 13
  23. 23. Breaking News• Frequency of update is a consideration.• Multiple media — which may includephotos, graphics, text, audio, video andinteractive elements — are used to reportbreaking news events.• Coverage is useful and related to schoolcommunity.• News is accurate, even if the informationis incomplete.Sunday, April 28, 13
  24. 24. From the judges onBreaking News:• Don’t worry about writing a completefeature when news is breaking — justpost information as it becomes available.• Judges commented that some of the bestbreaking new they saw centered onweather-related school closings.“It’s notsexy, but getting the information to yourreaders as soon as possible is reallyimpressive.”Sunday, April 28, 13
  25. 25. From the judges onBreaking News:• Use plugins to create a “Most Popular”section.• Surface all content about a hot topic oncampus. This makes it available forreaders to review and assists first-timevisitors.Sunday, April 28, 13
  26. 26. Redwood BarkRedwood HS • Larkspur, Calif.Breaking NewsThe “Current”section lists allof the mostrecent stories,making it easyfor readers tonavigate to thenewestinformation.Sunday, April 28, 13
  27. 27. Little Hawk OnlineIowa City HS • Iowa City, IowaBreaking NewsThe “LatestStories” ticker isused to getreaders to newcontent rightaway.Sunday, April 28, 13
  28. 28. Design & Navigation• The site is visually appealing, drawingreaders into stories.• Navigation is easy; readers caneffortlessly find what they seek.• News is presented in a clear hierarchy,with the most important and/or neweststories prominently displayed.• Multiple elements of a story arepackaged together into an integratedunit.Sunday, April 28, 13
  29. 29. From the judges onDesign & Navigation:• Sites should be clean and easy tonavigate. White space is your friend.• New content should be prominentlydisplayed.• Remember, people read differentlyonline — communicate informationthrough short sentences, bullet points,links and summaries.Sunday, April 28, 13
  30. 30. Harbinger OnlineShawnee Mission East HS • Prairie Village, Kan.Design & NavigationThis cleandesign useswhite space tomake the siteeasy tonavigate.Sunday, April 28, 13
  31. 31. Dart News OnlineSt. TEresa’s Academy • Kansas City, Mo.Design & NavigationGreat headlinesand summaries.Also, a cleandesign and cleartabs make thissite easy tonavigate.Sunday, April 28, 13
  32. 32. Paly VoicePalo Alto HS • Palo Alto, Calif.Design & NavigationThis site makesfindinginformationeasy for thereader, with topstorieshighlighted anda prominentlydisplayed searchtool.Sunday, April 28, 13
  33. 33. Rich Media• The site uses a variety of media: audio,video, photos, text and graphics.• Media enhance content and help tellstories rather than simply add flashyelements to the site.• Audio, video and graphic elements aretechnically excellent.• Copyright laws are understood andfollowed; only original content orcopyright-free material is used.Sunday, April 28, 13
  34. 34. From the judges onRich Media:• Plan what media youll use whenplanning the story. This will helprealizing too late that your audio podcastreally should have been a video.Sunday, April 28, 13
  35. 35. From the judges onRich Media:• Dumping 200 photos in a slideshow andcalling that a multimedia piece iswrong. Edit! Make the slide show have abeginning, middle and end.• Follow copyright rules.Sunday, April 28, 13
  36. 36. Etched in StoneFossil Ridge HS • Fort Collins, Colo.Rich MediaGreat use ofvideo, podcastsand photoslideshows.Media are wellmatched to thestories beingtold.Sunday, April 28, 13
  37. 37. A-Blast OnlineAnnandale HS • Annandale, Va.Rich MediaEffective use ofvideo andslideshows.New videos areposted at leasttwice a week.Sunday, April 28, 13
  38. 38. The NEW GuidebookWhat’s changing in 2013?Sunday, April 28, 13
  39. 39. Redefined categories• 2009 Guidebook:Coverage and ContentInteractivity and Community ToolsBreaking NewsDesign and NavigationRich Media• 2013 Guidebook:Coverage and ContentCommunity Interaction and Social MediaDesign and NavigationInteractive Media and FrequencyOnline-exclusive ContentSunday, April 28, 13
  40. 40. Tips for Coverageand Content• Think like a reader. Your content needsto use the same keywords/phrases thatpeople use when searching for you.• If your publication is known by onename around campus, but has another(possibly official) name online, that isa problem.• Use Google Adwords Keyword tool tofigure this out.Sunday, April 28, 13
  41. 41. Tips for Coverageand Content• Keep readers reading. Once you havesomeone on your site, you need to keepyour consumers in mind.• They are impatient, often clicking onthe first link that looks promising.• They seldom scroll down the page.They dont read full articles.• If you dont capture their attentionquickly, you lose them.Sunday, April 28, 13
  42. 42. Tips for CommunityInteraction / Social• Know which tools work with youraudience. There are myriad social medianetworks available and new onespopping up constantly.• New guidebook will discuss how toevaluate new networks as they appear.Sunday, April 28, 13
  43. 43. Tips for CommunityInteraction / Social• Know how to behave on social media.Be more efficient.• Listen.• Encourage interaction between yourreaders.• Organize your social media.Sunday, April 28, 13
  44. 44. Tips for Design andNavigation• Simplicity:…of design…of navigation…of access• Navigation: Global, local and contextual• Access = Responsive Design. You musthave a way for readers to connect withyou using mobile devices.Sunday, April 28, 13
  45. 45. Tips for InteractiveMedia & Frequency• Pick the right medium for the story.• Watch trends in media to know whenthere’s something new.• Use Google Analytics to determineoptimum frequency and engagementtimes.Sunday, April 28, 13
  46. 46. Tips for OnlineExclusive Content• Guidebook will have tips for:• How to break news online• Where to promote breaking news• Tools to draw readers to breaking news• Story packages created specifically forthe Web• Developing and maintaininga Web-first strategySunday, April 28, 13
  47. 47. And now, some tips.What makes a winner?Sunday, April 28, 13
  48. 48. 1. Customize thetemplate• The template is a starting point.Utilize widgets and modifications toensure the design, organization anddisplay fit the needs of your content andyour viewers.• Move things around. Swap objects outor around to see if polls get betterresponse, Facebook more“likes” orstories more views. Use Google Analyticsto track success.Sunday, April 28, 13
  49. 49. 2. Make the CMSwork for you• CMS are not evil. They help youorganize and maintain consistencythrough time and staff changes.• Evolve slowly. Even the smallest stylechange can set a site apart.Sunday, April 28, 13
  50. 50. 3. Three letters: SEO.• That’s for Search Engine Optimization.• Put it in text. Search engines can’t readimages. Include the full name ofpublication, school, physical address,and phone or email in footer of your site.• Use key words. Write headlines andleads with words that will pop up insearch.• Use plugins to increase searchrelevancy. Try Google Site Mapoptimizer.Sunday, April 28, 13
  51. 51. 4. Improve visualand audio content• Compelling photography is essential.If a story doesn’t have good image, youshould not splash it across the top of thepage. Avoid duplication in multipleplaces on the front page.• Video and audio, too. There are so manyfree or inexpensive apps available forcollecting and editing video and audio.Sunday, April 28, 13
  52. 52. 5. Be where youraudience is• Have a social media presence. Facebookand Twitter links should be easilyaccessible through recognizable icons.• Experiment with new trends. Try toolslike Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest,Snapchat, Vine, Kik, Pheed and more.Sunday, April 28, 13
  53. 53. 6. Navigate logically• Go home. Home buttons are usefulunless it’s obvious clicking on your flag/masthead will take you there.• Always include “About” or “Contactus.” Nest staff pages, advertising andother “business” pages under thesecategories.• Organize and archive. Homecoming isonly current and relevant so long. Tryturning a section into a button in yourright rail, or nest all special sectionsunder a certain navigation name.Sunday, April 28, 13
  54. 54. 7. Analyze yourtraffic.• Analytics are cool. Make GoogleAnalytics a part of your staff’s routine.• What’s trending? Talk with staffs aboutwhy certain articles are trending.• Consider bounce rate. That’s thenumber of people going to your site animmediately leaving. The lower thebounce, the better you are at keepingpeople around.Sunday, April 28, 13
  55. 55. 8. Help youraudience• What would you expect as a viewer?You’re immersed in your high school lifeand experience it daily. How can youbuild a site for the audience most likelyto visit your page?• Help the less familiar. For visitorsunfamiliar with your school, add contextlike a wiki or links to past coverage.• Don’t be afraid to link. External sitescan back up a story and provide context.Sunday, April 28, 13
  56. 56. 9. Prioritize thecontent• Make the front page a menu. Thelanding page doesn’t need the clutter ofdozens of photos.• Service visual skimmers. Just as you doin print, draw the eye with visualelements and text cues as to what isimportant. Sites like utilize many summariesand links and few photos“above thefold” on the main page.Sunday, April 28, 13
  57. 57. 10. Increase theinteractivity• Ask the audience. Reader-generatedcontent not only encourages interaction,it drives traffic like crazy. Contests forcutest pets or best spirit day costume areguaranteed winners.• Allow submissions. Readers can submitideas, give advice (“How would you cutthe budget?”), or add to a wiki (“What’syour advice for incoming freshmen?”).• Share, share, share. Facilitate sharingof your content among social media.Sunday, April 28, 13
  58. 58. What’s next?We announce the winnersthis afternoon!Contact Logan Aimone:logan@studentpress.orgSunday, April 28, 13
  59. 59. Questions?Thanks!Twitter: @NSPAFacebook: National ScholasticPress AssociationContact Logan Aimone:logan@studentpress.orgSunday, April 28, 13