A Digitized School Needs a Digital Newspaper

I asked senior Newsprint editor, Catherine Denton to guest post about how technology permeates our award winning publication. — L.Baker

Like all things Mercy, the school newspaper, Newsprint, has been following a “digitized” path for years. The monthly print version of the paper is designed via Adobe. Newsprint staff members spend most of their class time in the U-shaped “computer lab” surrounded by double-monitored Dells. In addition to writing stories and taking photos, each reporter is assigned to a different “page” with the goal of designing appealing layouts. Using this sophisticated and streamlined process, Newsprint was awarded the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association’s most prestigious award, the Spartan Award for 2013.

Newsprint came to a technological “full-circle” with the advent of their website in 2010. Dubbed Newsprintnow.net, the site aimed to provide more updated school news in different forms—particularly audio and video posts. One of its first posts, the Mercy Pink Glove Dance on Youtube, generated over 40,000 hits.

Since then, Newsprintnow has strived to adapt to Mercy’s changing technological conditions. The school caters to both student’s with HP tablets and iPads, so Newsprint modified its website to be “responsive” to screen size. Despite being full of kinks, the website is supposed to modify itself to maximize readability, load time, and navigation depending on the platform. Particularly since a so many Mercy students have smart-phones, the Newsprint staff wanted to make sure the website was easily readable on an iPhone or Android device. The website is currently not up to this standard, but Newsprint hopes to overcome some tech hurdles in order to make this possible next year.

In an effort to better cover the entire school community, the editors decidedto create Newsprintnow “beats” for staff members to cover. The beats function much like traditional newspaper beats. Reporters have a section of the school—for example, Spanish Honor Society or lacrosse—that they are required to keep in contact with and write about throughout the semester.

Alternate story forms, or stories not written in the traditional paragraph format, have been a staff-wide focus on Newsprintnow, as well. Reporters used Storify to string together various forms of social media. In Storify, reporters can “grab” Tweets, Facebook posts, Youtube videos, and Instagram photos that users post on public domain and combine them into a story. Newsprintnow found this particularly helpful during the 2012 election debates when students were tweeting their views.

Speaking of tweeting, the @mercynewsprint Twitter has over 100 followers. The staff utilizes the Twitter to tweet links to stories, recommended songs, staff videos, contests, and other noteworthy school news. Newsprint plans to expand its presence online by making a Facebook page, expanding video usage and number of Twitter followers, and tweeting more often.

Paralleling the school’s continuous technological growth and maturity, the computer lab is also being redesigned next year. With updated hardware, Newsprint staff members hope to enlarge their digital footprint and continue to receive awards for their work.

The online edition of our newspaper

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