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Catawba College's Student Newspaper Adds the Bling

February 08, 2010

Category: Students


PioneerCatawba College's student newspaper, The Pioneer, went online at the beginning of the academic year as part of the Green Pig initiative on campus and in order to meet the needs of a technology-based society.

"Today, we live in an era where people want their information now," says Brandon Coble of Yadkinville, N.C., Pioneer Business Manager. "Since we are online, we can give people the news as soon as it happens. No longer do people have to wait till the end of the week or the end of the month to find out what happened."

With the start of a spring semester, The Pioneer rolled out a new look and more bells and whistles.

Coble did the research and coordinated with the college public relations department and the communication department to find a robust platform to meet the growing needs of the rapidly expanding student newspaper staff and readership. He tackled the task of identifying a template that would allow expanded and customized news coverage and a  showcase for mass media projects.

Pioneer"Some of the great features that our new template has to offer are a sports score ticker, where anyone can come and find the scores of the latest Catawba games, and an arts and entertainment page that comes fully equipped with video and music Mp3s," says Coble. "Also, we have a multimedia page where students can do video journalism."

Pioneer Social Media Editor, Amanda Sowards of Harrisburg, N.C., has already created some original video projects to add a visual element to the presentation of student news, and Coble has coordinated with students in the music department to add music samples so that the public can see talent from across the campus.

Although the newspaper upgrade has been a challenge on some levels as reporters, photographers, and videographers have adapted to new technology, members of The Pioneer staff have been pleased to be on the cutting edge during an era when the presentation and consumption of news changes rapidly.

"Journalism will never be the same," says Cyndi Allison Wittum, faculty advisor for The Pioneer. "This generation will not go out for the morning paper and sip a cup of coffee while reviewingEvents from the day prior. We have moved beyond that point and must provide instant but reliable news."

Wittum says that she has been very impressed as students have tackled the challenges of the new media environment and with the creativity shown by members of The Pioneer staff.

"I had dreamed of seeing the student newspaper online for years," says Wittum. "It all happened really fast. I was holding my breath. This was a huge change, but the students shifted gears fast and quickly made this project happen."

Pioneer Editor, Aly Halter of Hertford, N.C., was on board to explore online options; however, she suddenly found that an experimental semester project was a reality within days of the semester kicking off. Instead of dabbling in online news presentation, she had a full staff focused exclusively on the development of a cyber student newspaper. After just one semester, she shifted gears again to expand the options and to incorporate extra features. The group outgrew the basic set up within weeks and were ready to move on to a more complex presentations of the news.

"I was so excited to take our newspaper website to the next level," says Halter. "I think our new template really shows us to our full potential, and it provides the Catawba community with so many great extras."

The Pioneer online has been a huge team effort including students from across the campus and a lot of hard work by all staff members. The project continues to evolve as students from the Ketner School of Business and Communication come on board to develop online advertising for the student newspaper.

Wittum says that this has been an exciting time to be a part of the development team for the student newspaper and that the community is served well by more timely news and added features. She notes that it really is about serving the community.

"I really hope the students, faculty, and alumni of Catawba can help us get the word out to promote our new website," says Halter. "We are working hard to provide information, and I know that our readers will find value in what we have to share."


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