Thinking Brand Over Publication

When I was hired as the new journalism instructor at Cerritos College 13 years ago a big part of my responsibilities was to advise the student newspaper and annual student magazine, both print products. I did this by teaching the major skill sets of reporting/writing, photography and design.  (Yeah, there are other principles, such as ethics, news sense, leadership, etc., but the basic skill sets dominate.)

At my previous job we had worked a bit on an online version of our newspaper, so I knew that technological change was coming, but first we had to focus on the still new technological change of pagination….for the print product.

My how things have changed.

Today I increasingly talk to my students in the language of “brand” rather than publication. I try not, for instance, to refer to that pulp product as “the newspaper” –as though it was THE publication. Instead, I try to use language like “the print edition.” We don’t produce a single product any more, we manage a brand. We have multiple products and services. When I critique student work I still tend to focus on the print edition, but I am trying more and more to talk about the online edition and other products as well.

When I conceptualize my job as adviser I see a three-dimensional model:

  • From one axis point I see the print edition, as it continues to be the product that seems to consume the most time and financial resources, and beyond it to the online edition and other editions; I can just as easily look at the online edition and through it to the print edition from the polar opposite axis.
  • From a slightly different axis point all the various editions stand out: the print edition the online edition, the digital edition, etc.
  • From still another axis point I see the skill sets we teach: reporting/writing, photography, design and, now, multimedia storytelling.
  • But the axis point that is the most interesting is the one that shows the ever-expanding list of brand points; it can be visualized with the following branch mind map.

The main branch points are print, online, digital, new media, social media and co-curricular activities.

Talon Marks brands branch map

The different brand points of the Talon Marks brand


Yes, we still produce a print edition. We currently do not print our annual magazine, but the newspaper is produced weekly, or nearly so, throughout the regular school year. Creating the print edition still dominates in the minds of students and for many on campus, it is the only edition they know of that we produce. We keep trying to market the other editions.

Even though the Talon Marks print edition newspaper looks a lot like the product from years ago, it has evolved. Along with pagination being standard, there is other innovation. This last school year the students produced a 3-D issue where a dozen or so color 2-D photographs were converted to 3-D and a pair of 3-D glasses was attached to each copy of the paper.

And it is now becoming routine to include QR codes in each issue. These codes can be scanned by smartphones and link up directly to online multimedia.


Web Edition

The flagship of online is the award-winning website, which is run on the College Publisher platform. While students still produce content with the print edition in mind first and the online edition second, we are progressing slowly to a reverse mindset, as we must.

We need to do more with blogging and podcasts, but more and more students are producing video and slideshows as unique online content.


And we are giving increasing thought to mobile. The College Publisher platform automatically converts our Web edition to mobile presentation, but we are moving beyond that, looking for the best possible mobile app presentation, one that incorporates more than our content. We want an app that integrates other portals that students –our main readers—will want to use.

In the meantime, we became the first community college –and still one of the few—with a tablet app. Thanks to the PaperBoy mobile app, Talon Marks can now be read on the iPad tablet. We’ll outgrow this app in time, but a major philosophy of mine is to be like the guy who builds a lemonade stand in the middle of the desert: not a lot of business now, but when the road comes through in a few years we’ll hang a sign that declares we’ve been in business since 2011.

Student Portfolios

We are in the education business and one of the best things we do is provide students the opportunity to develop skills and portfolios. An earlier version of the College Publisher platform introduced a nice automatic portfolio option, but unfortunately, that tool was eliminated in the latest version and has not been satisfactorily re-instated after two years. We have cobbled together an imperfect replacement through, but it is labor intensive to maintain and we continue looking for other solutions. An automatic aggregation of student work through our online site, even if it means uploading PDF copies of print edition pages and special elements would be the ideal.


Despite students still thinking in a weekly print edition mode when it comes to deadlines –as opposed the multiple times a day mode that the online edition affords and rightfully demands—the introduction of the social media tools of Facebook and Twitter have helped crack the mindset. We can interact with readers more quickly and in different ways than the one-way communication of the print edition. While we’ve got a long way to go in perfecting how we integrate our social media, we’re at least on the right path.  We see digital newsletters as a growth area for the brand: Get snippets of news quickly from Twitter and Facebook, see more complete versions online, and see full versions in print. But aggregate sports, news, arts, opinion, etc., snippets and deliver them via e-mail to those who would like to get their news in that format.


For several years we have been producing a digital version of the print edition, but haven’t done much with it. Years ago pagination evolved into PDF delivery of the print product to our printer. What a difference that made when we found a printer ready to accept the product through electronic delivery! We would paginate a page, then print it out in tiles and paste together the tiles into complete pages. Once all pages were done –with the last invariably being completed hours after the first and one page always seeming to hold up the entire process—we called the printer to send someone to pick up the paste-ups.

With electronic delivery of PDF files each page could be shipped individually. The last page is in the hands of the print just minutes after it is completed and exported.  The old way seems almost inconceivable these days. Just try explaining what a wax pot is to today’s students. (For that matter, try explaining pica poles, paste-up grids, sizing wheels, counting headlines, and so much more!)

But what about those PDF pages after the printing has been completed? They were relegated to the status of old paste-up boards: Interesting, but “collecting dust” until tossed out/deleted. Then along came, that allowed us to store digital editions and attach a cute animated widget on our website. There is so much more we could do with these digital editions, though. All we have to do is market them. While the dynamic presentation of news on our website is more interesting to more people, SOME readers prefer seeing the newspaper in the same format as the print product. They’ll read the paper that way. We can even deliver tomorrow’s newspaper this evening as it can be e-mailed to subscribers while the print edition is being placed on the printing presses and delivered back to campus. All we have to is market it and build a subscriber database.

And, as mentioned above, we see digital newsletters as another growth area for expanding our audience.


There is so much that can and should be done with new media storytelling techniques. It is easy to focus on slideshows and video, and learning to do them well is enough to fill your plate. We’ve found that a good storage channel for our video is YouTube and so we use it. And by using Soundslides as a slideshow tool gives us a means to embed them in our online edition.

But we found a new direction to try as well. Our college has a radio station that focuses more on the entertainment side of broadcast rather than the broadcast journalism side. Ever since I got here we’ve been looking for the right method to port some of what we produce on the news side to the radio station, mostly an Internet feed these days. While our efforts have been welcomed by the Radio-TV program, they do not include changing the focus of any of our broadcast courses to the journalism angle: We’re still trying to squeeze in between cracks. Our latest attempt, one that seems to be progressing well, is to provide a weekly hour-long radio show that utilizes sound clips collected by our print reporters while working on their print edition stories. To do so, we’re recruiting broadcast majors who want to broaden their skills beyond hosting music or talk programs.

While we still have a long way to go there is a reason why one trusts the businessman who hangs up that sign declaring years of business experience. Over time you make progressive improvements to your process –a key word, by the way, a lot of this is process based on developing defined values with available personnel. Over time you learn to get better at what you do. Our first semester featured a host summarizing stories in the print edition or the online edition and then chatting about them with a co-host; there was a lot of rah-rah editorializing reminiscent of banter between playing songs. Since then we are evolving into more of an NPR approach to a news show, one that has cohesiveness in its entirety, but one that can then be deconstructed into individual stories/podcasts that can be linked to online stories as supplementary information for our audience

We’ve had to rely on our broadcast students to edit the audio and are now starting to train the print/online reporters to edit their own stand-alone stories. There is resistance, though, as each semester easily half of our one publications class are new students who still have to learn the basic writing/reporting, photographic and design skills. We simply keep asking students to learn and do more each semester. But it is a process –there’s that word again—that includes returning students showing how it is really a matter of comfort, control and efficiency in the process.


And then there are the extra things we do for our students to enhance their education. We’re a small program: There is just one full-time instructor, one adjunct instructor and a full-time instructional aide in the journalism program (the broadcast program has just one full-time instructor and two part-time instructional aides) doing all this. How much easier it would be if we were a larger program.

Some of the supplemental activities not related to “publications,” but still considered a part of the brand are:

  • Journalism Association of Community Colleges – We can’t teach it all, at least not effectively, and we feel blessed to have California’s JACC as an adjunct to our program. Several times a year JACC sponsors regional or statewide conferences/conventions where our students can learn from industry experts through workshops on an array of topics. JACC also provides a plethora of contests that allow our students to hone and measure their skills against students from other schools. We participate in other organizations that provide contest opportunities, but none like JACC, which provides a more complete package.
  • What’s Next? – A dirty little secret about community colleges is that they no longer seem to be a two-year college experience. The average student is here for more like four years, and even then only about a quarter of those who entered with the goal of transferring to a four-year school do so. There are a lot of reasons for this –to many to list and discuss here—but the immersion and engagement provided students who work for our publications is partially to blame. Students are just having so much fun learning from us they drop other classes and put off taking the general education courses they need to graduate. So the Journalism and Radio-TV programs have started an annual day-long workshop called “What’s Next?” that gives students more information on career opportunities, transfer options and self-marketing tools (“Step One: Stop posting all those photos of yourself drinking at parties on your Facebook page.”)
  • Media Awards Night – At the end of each semester we team up with our Radio-TV program to host a semester-ending awards night for our students. It has many goals, including honoring student work, bonding of journalism and broadcast students, trumpeting of program strengths to college administrators (serve food and they will come), and smoothing out problems with students’ parents and significant others who wonder why our students seem to be devoting so much time each week to our programs. My Radio-TV colleague and I like to boast that we are one of the few programs on campus where we have to kick students out at the end of the day.
  • High School Awards – Each year we host a high school awards competition for area high school journalism programs. The payoff for us is that we invite them to our spring Media Awards Night to get their awards. I often think of myself as a spider talking to as many flies as I can; if I can just get them to enter my parlor for a few minutes I’ve got them hooked. But recruitment of high school students is only one of the goals –good thing, because too few schools participate and even fewer students seem to get recruited. Another just-as-important goal is that when the high school students enter our mail-in competitions it is my journalism students who do the judging. They learn how much they have learned when they are asked to evaluate the high schoolers’ work. It’s a win-win.
  • Journalism Club – Our campus has an active extra-curricular student activity program and a cornerstone of it is the clubs on campus. We maintain a journalism club mostly so we have a portal to their activities. My first reaction is that we keep our students busy enough doing what they are doing I don’t want them to be burdened with various club activities, which might include an information booth in the campus quad on twice-annual club information days to building homecoming floats each fall. But the students are members of their campus communities and as quaint and outdated as some of the campus student activities might seem at times, they do add to a college experience in what is an otherwise commuter campus experience.
  • Alumni activities – Community colleges in general and community college programs in particular are not good at alumni connections. Too bad. Working on the school newspaper –sorry, print edition of the newspaper—is a memorable experience and we often have alumni drop by or contact us to reminisce. Cerritos College celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago and we were one of the few programs on campus that made an effort to bring back alumni for a special occasion. We haven’t done much since then, though we keep talking about a follow-up event or really developing a database of former students and keeping them connected.  The online edition is a good tool for keeping them in touch, but we really hope to build on digital newsletters to aid in communication in the future. In particular, too, is a blog I regularly follow, even though I’m not an alumnus of the college or program, out of Missouri University’s well-known journalism program. Students there last year started a regular J-School Buzz blog for and about the program itself. I am coaxing my students to start a TM-Buzz blog so that they can chronicle their own activities as a brand. They can write about activities, blog about experiences, rail on the inadequacies of the program, and post all kinds of videos about themselves. And former students will relate.
  • Advisory board meetings – Twice each year we meet with our vocational advisory board to share what is going on in the program and being in an outside look at the program to make sure it is doing all that it can, and that all that it is doing is worthwhile. The board consists of journalism educators from other community colleges and nearby universities and industry professionals familiar with or interested in our program. And each meeting we invite a handful of current student editors to participate. Not only do they provide a down-to-earth perspective of the program, but they develop leadership skills by networking with these interested professionals.
  • Editor exchanges – Some semesters we conduct what we call editor exchanges. I will round up the editors of our publications and take them to visit with editors of publications at nearby universities or community colleges. Later those editors will visit our campus in a similar fashion. There are only loose agendas for these get-togethers, which typically last two to three hours each. The students bond with each other and learn that the issues they run across –problems of getting reporters to turn in stories on time, the problems of getting reporters to accept (and then complete) less popular assignments, etc.—are not unique to them. They can share common solutions. Most often, I think, other schools learn how much more my students work on the brand as much as on the publication.

Add a sports calendar to your publication web site

Here’s a cool and easy addition for your publication web site: A running weekly sports calendar.

Step One. Create a Google account for your publication specifically for sports. Use a publication domain e-mail address or one you will have control of after today’s student moves on.

Step Two. Create a calendar under Google Tools for campus sporting events. You’ll have to spend some time at the beginning of a season entering all the data into your calendar, but do all the schedules for a season (or year).

Step Three. Create a Google Gadget calendar. You can customize the look and size with the options afforded. The address for the calendar, of course, will be the Google calendar created in Step Two.

Step Four. Grab the embed code the Google Gadget calendar creates and go to your web site. For College Publisher users paste the code in the summary field. (If using CP5 be sure to switch to source view.) You can also put it in your story view if you want, but you may want to change the width in the parameters because the article page has more width to work with.

The calendar will now show up on your page as a “story.” What is cool about this is that it is a scrolling calendar the reader can use to go forward and backward with the schedule. You set this up at the beginning of the semester and then never have to touch it again. You simply keep your Step Two calendar up to date with additions or deletions …. or consider adding win/loss results to games as they occur so you have a way for users to check results.

The Holy Grail for community college publications

In the 30 or so years that I’ve been involved in JACC one idea that has come up time and again and never come to fruition is that of a wire service style of sharing news.

Most ideas brought forth have centered around Sacramento area schools originating quality legislative news we can all use or sharing of sports stories and photos.

And I now read where industry cousins have so cut their travel budgets –in a time where the wire services are less popular and the Internet is delivering hyperlocal competition– that sports news consortiums are forming.

Kind of brings back memories of JACC’s holy grail.

Efforts in the past have failed for a number of reasons:

1. Lack of an easy-to-use sharing tool. You’d think easy tools like e-mail, we pages, Flickr, etc. would have leveled the field, but too many of our programs (advisers who mist understand them and be the glue to our high-turnover staffs) are not and may never be tech savvy enough to adapt to anything but a dedicated tool actually designed to do these tasks.

2. Lack if consistency in quality and reliability to process content quickly.

3. Lack of buy in. Not only do some staffs lack the wherewithall to contribute, more see their publications as proprietary. They’d rather underserve their readers than use content from another publication. (Some even think doing so should — or does — disqualify a publication from our General Excellence contests).

I see the mission of my program as two-fold: train students in my program AND serve the campus community with the best news coverage we can muster.

Gaps in what we do or don’t do will open the door for innovators to come in and make us irrelevant. How many of you would fear and fight a commercial entity that, for instance, contracted with our athletic departments to provide a localized web site or print product that gave timely and complete sports coverage in exchange for cooperative access to contest results and coach/athlete quotes? Sure, it would be highly filtered, but I’d bet our sports readers wouldn’t object all that much in exchange for better service.

We should discuss these kinds of issues and innovate before we’re someday innovated out existence. Or we could stick our heads in the sand.

At every JACC conference we should have innovation roundtables to discuss issues like this. Not with an agenda to always walk away with the latest gerry-rigged tool, mind you, but to explore buy-in as much as innovative service solutions.

My Kindle DX and newspapers

The Los Angeles Times is not necessarily my favorite daily newspaper –although I’ve not lived in the Bay Area for 12 years I still enjoy reading the San Jose Mercury News whenever I can get my hands on it– but it clearly is the paper I read in the most varied ways.

Ways I read the Times, in my order of preference, include:

1. In print
2. Through the Times web site
3. Through Twitter on my iPhone (LA Times feeds)
4. Through my Kindle DX
5. Through third-party RSS links (from blogs) on my computer
6. Through Twitter on my iPhone (third-party Tweets with links)
7. Through RSS links from the LA Times
8. Through my iPhone app for the LA Times (sorry, this was too cludgey and I’ve deleted the app from my iPhone. So scratch this one. What a terrible interface.)

On any given day I’m likely to read a Times article via five or more of these sources.

My most recent pathway to reading the the Times is with my new Kindle DX. Reading it this way most decidedly is an acquired taste, one that I’m still working on.

I’ve read a lot about e-book readers being the next big thing for newspapers and have wanted to try it. sells Kindle and with no brick and morter stores to visit to test the Kindle, you pretty much have to buy one on faith. And that takes a lot of faith because the DX, the only version that handles newspapers, sells for close to $500. (Amazon did not even answer my query about whether there was such a thing as an educational discount or whether I could get a reviewer’s discount.)

While I like LISTENING to books –my iPod/iPhone gets a lot of use and I currently carry almost 100 books on it– I can’t really say I’m an avid book reader. I DO read novels and non-fiction books from time to time and do a lot of newspaper and blog reading, to say nothing of textbooks because of my teaching job. I just don’t READ enough books to justify even the lower-end Kindle that sells for around $300.

I like to listen to books while walking, which I do a lot, and highly recommend I’ve been a subscriber for years and can download two unabridged books a month from its humongous and ever-growing library for less than the cost of one newly released printed book. (Hey, Audible, if you are listening, I would willingly accept the gift of a free book for that unsolicited but heart-felt plug.)

Lately, though, I’ve found the Kindle book reader app for my iPhone and that has increased my love of book reading, especially with favorite authors who don’t seem to condone their books being distributed in mp3 format. Yes, Clive Cussler and Tom Clancey, I’m talking about you! I’m currently devouring Cussler’s Oregon series since only two seem to be available in iPod/iPhone listening format.

I bought the Kindle DX because my job includes reading lots of course outline documents. The DX screen is big enough to read these documents as PDFs, which are easily uploaded to the Kindle. Carrying the 1/3-inch thick device around is far superior than carrying 3-inch to 5-inch stacks of course outlines that my job as campus Curriculum Chair requires. That made it worth the purchase price.

My verdicts so far:

* Reading books on the Kindle DX is okay, but quite frankly, the touch screen navagation of my iPhone makes that experince far more satisfying. I even prefer the limited iPhone experience (forget texts that require illustrations) to reading a printed book.

* Reading newspapers on the Kindle DX is interesting, but ridiculous. Forgive me, but presentation DOES count and the presentation on a Kindle leaves a lot to be desired. More below, but I cannot for the life of me understand why Kindle limits newspaper readership to the high-end unit. With some minor tweaks in the interface, my iPhone would be a much more convenient way and I don’t see why it can’t be done. The navigation system of the Kindle is cludgey compared to the touch screen iPhone and if the rumored Apple iTablet ever comes out and gets into the newspaper game Kindle will have a competitor.

* Reading short PDF documents on the Kindle DX is a godsend. But the built-in search function combined with the ridiculous chicket keyboard makes including pdf reference books, such as my college catalog, which I have to refer to almost daily, a lousy choice. Again, the iPhone approach to touchscreen navigation and virtual keyboard is going to blow Kindle out of the water.

Story viewLet me talk for a minute about the newspaper reading experience on the Kindle DX, which some of my journalism teacher colleagues have asked about.

In short, you subscribe to a text-only version of a newspaper. (Again, why the cheaper versions or iPhone app can’t handle that is unclear.) The DX has a built-in wireless connection to your personal Kindle account and the paper is delivered automatically within minutes of turning on the unit in the morning. The previous day’s paper is moved to archives. That’s cool. But unless you are a hard core newspaper reader the appeal drops off after there.

Home viewYou access your files/newspaper by scrolling down the home menu with a five-way joy stick key that can give your thumb a blister. And it takes a while to become comfortable with what you can and cannot do with the the joy stick.

When you select the newspaper you want to read it defaults to opening up the text of the first story, presumably the lead story of page one. You use “Next Page” and “Previous Page” buttons on the right side of the Kindle to page through the story. Because you have some control over the size of text a story can take more or less pages to display. (And given the Times’ penchant to make any story long, count on most stories taking multiple pages, even at smallest font size.)

Navigational buttonsThere is a slight delay in the pages changing on the screen after clicking the button and the button requires a pretty good push to activate, but you get used to that…unless of course you’ve gotten use to the easy touch screen swipe on your iPhone. You learn to click the button before you get to the bottom of the page so as to keep the interference with the reading flow to a minimum.

You use the joy stick to linearly page through the stories one at a time. But because presentation isn’t an issue with Kindle, you have no way in this mode of knowing where you are in the list of available stories and what is coming up. With the printed version or online version you can scan for the story that interests you and jump directly to it; you can read which stories you want in the order you want. That is not the consideration here.

There IS hope, though. Move the cursor to the bottom of the page with your joy stick and you can select a “View Sections” option that lists the major sections of the paper (Front Page, California, The Nation, The World, Business, Sports, Opinion, etc.).

Section viewYou can choose one of those and start your linear oddessy just in the section you want.

The Section View also tells you how many stories are in the section. You can even move the cursor to number next to the section name. Click on the number and your Section View changes from a list of sections to an RSS view of the stories in that section: headline and first few lines of the story. Ahhh, now you are getting somewhere. You can now choose which story you want to read without having to wade through each story. Simply move the cursor to the headline and click on it to get the full story.

RSS viewBut did I mention that presentation matters? There are no photographs with the stories. The headlines are barebones and there are no drop heads or pull quotes to entice you into a story. Roundups and letters to the editor are difficult to read because there is not even an extra line of space between each item and the subheads are indistinguishable from body text.

When I look at how I select stories to read from the print edition of the newspaper I rely heavily on those drop heads and pull quotes and photos to give me more information about whether I’d be interested in the story. No so luck with the barebones approach. And that barebones headline may not be very descriptive. There does not appear to be any effort on the Times’ part to rewrite the headlines with the Kindle interface in mind. A clever five word headline followed up with a more descriptive drop head –to say nothing of the interesting photo– works fine in print and even on the web. But that same five word headline as the ONLY information I have about the story does not. True, in the RSS view I have the first few lines of the story, but use an anecdotal lead, which the Times does a lot, and you have no idea what the story is about.

Don’t buy the Kindle DX to read newspapers or even books. If you can find another reason like I did, then think about it. If Kindle tweaks its interface, if photos and additional subhead information can be included it might someday be good. Last ngiht, for instance, I had time to kill waiting for my daughter’s beach party to end, so I plopped my butt into a chair at a Starbucks and enjoyed reading the SJ Mercury and a few Times stories had not already read earlier in the day. It was hgih tech, it was cool.

Now, I’ve left out a lot. The screen IS easy to read. Maybe not as easy as my iPhone, but the iPaper platform works for me. It is not backlit, so you still need a well-lit environment. But you could read this thing on the beach (if you weren’t worried about the sand getting in it and gummying it up). It has a built-in dictionary; move the cursor to any word, click on it and the definition appears at the bottom of the screen. And the sucker is supposed to be able to handle something like 3,500 books (because they are all text-only with no graphics), not that you’d ever want to do that. Without a better navigation system, I don’t see it being a viable option for textbooks, too bad.

To put documents on your Kindle, those you don’t buy for greatly reduced prices from Amazon, is really easy. Either attach your Kindle to your computer via cable or email the document to your special Kindle account and wait for it to be delivered wirelessly.

There is a text-to-speech function I haven’t tried, but the thought of uploading a light background music mp3 file sounds like something I may try.

Despite my mostly negative comments above, I like my Kindle and look forward to its interface being upgraded to be more useful. Unfortunately, without the touchscreen archtecture built in, though, I’d probably have to actually buy a future generation version to take advantage of a fully pleasurable-to-use unit. (Apple or Kindle, keep me in mind as a reviewer of new versions; I think this technology has potential and will accept my current role as an unfortunate early adopter.)

12 Things Community College newspapers could do to survive

It is sometimes easy for college journalism programs to feel that we are insulated from the travails of the newspaper industry because … Well, we ARE insulated. We are artificially funded and we don’t face the same expense models of having to pay our employees.

But if we are to best prepare our students for the future, even at print publications, we have to pay attention. Indeed, we should be proactive in leading the education of our students not for what jobs existed yesterday or exist today, but those which will exist tomorrow when they either enter the workforce or learn they have to adapt to a changing workplace.

Here’s a good list from Mashable of 12 things newspapers should be doing. Some don’t apply to us, others are opportunities for us. See the full, original discussion at .


That might seem like a no-brainer, but this fact is a double-edged sword. Newspapers are often still treating their websites as an afterthought because their advertising revenue is largely still coming from print. At the same time, the shift to getting more revenue from websites won’t happen until the websites are the first priority.

We can and should be doing this. To believe that our students don’t need to know how to do this is ignoring the facts. To think this is ALL our students need to know is also ignoring reality. But at least this is something we can realistically work on in our programs. Without ignoring the nuts and bolts of what we do, I think we should herald the experiments we try more.


Duh, we do that for the most part anyway.


We need to stop treating their websites as a dumping ground for print stories and treat each somewhat independently, carefully selecting the stories better suited for each media.


Journalists need to move away from being “processors of information” to contextualizers, Bradshaw said. In the old industrialized model, he explained, journalists simply processed raw material into an article or a broadcast in a market that they also had a monopoly on, but in today’s networked model the raw material is available to the former audience, which is taking on the role of the reporter, as are the sources themselves.


To Twitter or not to Twitter. To integrate Facebook or not. To blog o not. These are not the questions. We need to make use of the social network tools of the day and teach our students TO BE RELEVANT in doing so.


How many of us continue to run our operations the same way we’ve always done? Oh sure, we might talk about changes, but do we have a start-up mentality? I suggest with the economic situation being what it is that we look at our artificial financing structure as venture capital that could dry up.


Part of having a startup culture includes an environment that encourages innovation. Again, JACC should herald innovation where it takes place. Realize that more will fail than will succeed. Knowing that, we need to give recognition to those bold enough to try. BUT, and this is a big but, we must not fall into the trap of thinking the innovation is god and trumps our basic mission.


Okay, in the original article this is talking about AP and the big boys. If you think at the college level that we’re serious partners in this discussion you’ve been ingesting something probably illegal. But our students need to know and understand this discussion.


We should give consideration to how our electronic versions translate to smart phones, so many of our students have them that if we can promote our content through them we can build relevant audiences perhaps stronger than relevant web audiences.

I recently bought a Kindle DX, partially so I could experience the end-use of the newspaper-through-ebook model. My initial reaction is very cool, I still prefer print for a lot of reasons, but I’m getting the hang of it. I’ll blog on it later. Am interested to see the new Apple tablet, if it materializes, but at double the already expensive Kindle cost, I suspect that it will be slow to have an impact.


Think letters to the editor on steriods. We need to put more effort into this. Looks like the future won’t be sitting around waiting for the letters to maybe show up. We need to make it easier and more relevant.


You’d think we understand that at a COMMUNITY college. But we really don’t. The weird thing is that we’re in a perfect position to benefit from understanding and building this.


Again, we’re not really part of this discussion. But our students need to be aware. There is the real problem of how will the industry or our students make a living doing this if we don’t work our some kind of reasonable income stream to replace the fading advertising model.


Regardless of what happens in the industry, print editions will not be replaced at our level anytime soon. What IS realistic for us to consider is whether our schools continue to see our product as something they are willing to continue to fund if the revenue stream of “butts in the seat” continue to be our income model. While the print edition will continue its effectiveness on the campus for many years, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the answer will be “no” and the publication will fold if it does not build a multi-platform audience. Web sites are only the first step, but not if all of it is simply a duplicate of print. More and more I think social media and mobile delivery will be our best friends. The print product will continue to be our bedrock for training, but have less relevance as a delivery mode.

50 web tools for student online publications

Regardless of your student publication’s online platform, you can enhance content presentation with these 50 online tools.


Create interactive and animated Flash-based maps without knowing Flash. Embed the results in your web site. <>


Create interactive and animated Flash-based maps without knowing Flash. Embed the results in your web site. <>



Upload a database and Swivel will help you choose the best way to display the numbers visually. Then grab the HTML code to put onto your web page <>


Tool for streaming radio music, news and talk by using your existing phone. <>


Free and subscription based web tools that include a blog, online calendar, guestbook, password protection for web sites, hit counters, photo albums, web templates, FAQ services, vote casters, classified ads, mailing lists, chat rooms, guest maps, e-cards, headline news, web pools, e-mail forms, message forums, speaking characters and more. <>

6. CLASS TOOLS allows you to create free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet. <>

7. CLIP ART by Jupiterimages is the largest collection of royalty-free images offered by subscription on the web. For one low price you can download all the clipart, photos, fonts and sounds you need. <>



Member-generated image and design community. Find your inspiration on the world’s leading royalty-free stock destination. Search for over 4 million photographs, vector illustrations, video footage, audio tracks and Flash files. <>


Presentation by Amara Aguilar on creating widgets for your web site. <>


Enter the RSS source you want displayed on your page and this tool creates code for a handy widget to paste you’re your site. <>


Create timelines and embed them in your web page. <>


The Embedded Media HTML Generator has been developed to ease the burden of inserting video and animations into web pages. Select the type of video and get help generating code to paste into your pages. <>


First, build a Facebook page for your student publication and co-post content . The use FB’s new Facebook Connect to link your publication to that site and place a Facebook widget on your web site. Use it to bring the new content from your social media network to your regular site. <>


Feedweaver allows you to create your own personalized RSS feeds. You can create your own feeds by combining source feeds from your favorite websites, and use filters to choose what you want in it! You can combine multiple RSS feeds into one. <>


Hundreds of widgets that take advantage of RSS feed to provide content of all kinds. <>


It’s a simple HTML to PDF Converter. No need to install any applications on your computer.

It’s free and without registration! Simply type in the URL of a page and it converts the page to a PDF. <>


Create free online petitions to generate support for your cause. <>



Create a Twitter-based petition. <>


Issuu turns your print documents into beautiful online publications. Publish to an audience of millions and get your message across to anyone, anywhere. It only takes a minute and it’s free. <>


Web based WYSIWYG form builder. Its intuitive drag and drop user interface makes form building a breeze. Using JotForm, you can create forms, integrate them to your site and collect submissions from your visitors. <>


KeepHD is a sweet tool that lets you download HD videos off Youtube! Not only can you download HD copies of your movies, you can also download the mobile 3GP version for your mobile devices plus the standard MP4 and FLV format. <>


Online video broadcast platform. <>


Allow readers to access your publication on their web site by signing up for this free app and then promoting it on your web site. <>


MyCSSMenu provides the average webmaster with tools to create custom, cross browser compatible css menu. The generator makes it easy to create custom web navigation: Horizontal, Vertical, Drop-down menu without having to know all the complicated HTML and CSS. <>


MyFontbook is an unique online font viewer that helps save designers time by providing a number of tools to view installed fonts quickly and easily. Unlike a classic font management tool, MyFontbook is platform independent and can be used freely through any web browser. <>


Blog entry defines some of the online terms such a widget or content management system. Also explains some of the tools on this list. <>


Picnik is photo editing awesomeness, online, in your browser. It’s the easiest way on the Web to fix underexposed photos, remove red-eye, or apply effects to your photos. <>


28. PHO.TO

Online photo enhancement and presentation platform and a variety of other photo services. <>. Also see related services while there to turn photos into cartoons <> or animated avatars <>.


Create online surveys and polls for your website, blog and social network. Best for short poll questions. For longer surveys also see Survey Monkey. <>


Web-based visual tool for rapidly building customized Flash widgets. Similar to SproutBuilder and Wix. <>



Sprout Builder is a web-hosted, visual authoring solution that allows creative professionals to quickly and easily create branded, rich-media content and widgets. Used to be free, but now requires a paid model. <>



Wix offers you a simple powerful online platform to make flash websites, MySpace layouts and more. No downloads or programming needed. Similar to Sprout, but free. <>


Save, organize, and publish links to interesting and important news on your own web site or blog, with just a click. Save links privately for your own reporting, then publish selected links along with your story to enhance its value. <>

34. SCRIB.D DOCUMENT EMBEDDING allows you to upload files in PDF, PowerPoint, spreadsheet or photo form, then spits out the code for you to embed it in a Web site or e-mail it anywhere. <>


Take your PowerPoint slide shows and share them on the web through embedded widgets. <>


Powerful and easy to use web-based tool for creating surveys. Free for simple, short surveys or pay a fee for longer surveys. Good analysis tools built in and you can embed links to your surveys into your site. <>


A quick tool for creating HTML tables out of spreadsheet data <>


Deliver targeted SMS text alerts to your subscribers’ phone numbers. You can enter 160-charcter messages from the web site or set it up so you can send them by phone. You can also create small communities that can communicate with each other. <>


Create short URLs from long ones. Great for Twitter. Free and simple to use. Just paste the long URL into a field, click a button and a short URL is generated. <>



Similar to TR.IM, but one character larger. Includes a tool you can place in your browser menu for easy use. <>


A real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. There are a ton of related programs that allow you to customize the way you interact with the tool. You can also generate widgets so that your tweets can show up automatically on your web site. Start at <http://www/>

then look at


Great blog entry by Mashable on how to customize your publication’s use of Twitter. <>


Your favorite videos on the web, in one place. Save videos you like as you surf the web. Lets people watch videos you save on your blog, website, Facebook, MySpace or just about anyplace. <>


VUVOX is an easy to use production and instant sharing service that allows you to mix, create and blend your personal media – video, photos and music into rich personal expressions. <>


Instantly turn your blog or RSS fed into a widget to share with others. Or you can grab widgets created by others. Grab content from one part of your site and show it in another part of your site with a “blidget.” <>


A variety of widgets for your web site, including a tool that makes widgets. <>


The YouTube Reporters’ Center is a new resource to help you learn more about how to report the news. It features some of the nation’s top journalists and news organizations sharing instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting. <>


This easy to install widget provides the ability to quickly add video directly from YouTube to your desired destination. <>


Free online file converter. Convert files from a dazzling array of formats into almost any other logical similar format. Simply upload the file and within a short time you can download the converted file in the format you choose. <>

Okay, so there are only 49 tools here, not 50. Time for my readers to suggest a 50th tool for student publications to use.

Communicate with your students via Twitter

Twitter can be a pretty public communication tool, which is okay for journalistic purposes when you are trying to reach a large group of readers.

But what if you want to restrict the group? For instance, what if you want set up a premium service with specialized content? Or even just set up a staff communication tool using Twitter? Or how about a replacement for something like the JACC faculty listserve?

Mashable, the social networking blog, has reviewed a number of Twitter add-ons that would let you set up such private groups.

See .