Since 1926, Catawba College's student newspaper, The Pioneer, has been a printed publication. Not anymore; it's now online at www.catawba.edu/pioneer.
Students enrolled in Communication Arts Instructor Cyndi Wittum's Applied Journalism course have been working on stories and photographs for the new online site since the beginning of the fall semester. They were assisted in their efforts by Catawba's Web Designer Maegen Worley who customized templates for the new incarnation of The Pioneer.
Wittum says the newspaper going online was an idea which has evolved.
"This year, when Communication Arts moved into the realm of the Ketner School of Business, Dean Bryan Applefield considered the proposal I submitted for taking the newspaper online and he encouraged me to go for it. After considering several online platforms, we chose WordPress [WordPress is a free online blogging service] as the solution and have spent the past month preparing content."
Even though the online newspaper became reality this year, the idea simmered in Wittum's head for the past eight years. "It took very, very advanced technical skills to pull an online newspaper off eight years ago — the technology was not user friendly at this point. Things are very different today.
"Most of the students in the class took to the new technology quickly — it was very user-friendly for their generation and is something they’re comfortable using," Wittum continues. "Those few students who were slower catching on to how to upload their stories and pictures depended on their peers in the class, particularly Editor Aly Halter of Hertford, New Media and Lifestyles Editor Amanda Sowards of Harrisburg, and Photography Editor Kaylee Johnson of Charlotte."
"Since I was a freshman at Catawba, The Pioneer staff has always wanted to extend the paper to an online edition. It is so exciting to finally see this goal met and to be a part of making it happen," explains Amanda Sowards.
"Managing my articles online has been convenient and wonderful. I can now present information in a way that will get immediate feedback and student reaction," freshman Lizzie Davis of East Bend, a writer for The Pioneer, says. "I think we owe it to the Catawba community to get the conversation started on issues andEvents as soon as possible and that’s exactly what our staff is doing. I love it!"
"Taking The Pioneer online is a great treat," notes Kaylee Johnson. "Now, I can check on it all the time, not to mention all sorts of new media with lots or color photos, audio clips and videos! I send the link home to Mom and keep her updated."
Other staffers for The Pioneer include Business Manager Brandon Coble of Yadkinville; Community News Editor Leslie Denton of Salisbury; Theatre Editor Lee Anne Rutherford of Woodstock, Va.; Sports Editor Carly Kotlyn of Parma Heights, Ohio; Writers Erin Kidd of Ramseur, Bronwen Gainsford of Lewisville, Brandi Cockerham of Mocksville, Beverly Maurice of Mocksville, Karen Philpot of Yuma, Ariz., Micah Sales of Charlotte, and Amanda Drake of Salisbury; Writer/Photographer Nick Alfieri of Salisbury; Photographers Fred Turcio of Guilford, Conn., and Mike Pecchia of Coquitlam, British Columbia. Cyndi Wittum serves as advisor for The Pioneer.
Learning to publish online is very different from print, Wittum explains. "The pieces have to be visually appealing in order to draw and keep readers and the students need to focus on photos and subheadings and have to learn to write with shorter paragraphs."
Pushing The Pioneer to its online format was also in keeping with the College's conservation efforts launched this year with its Green Pig campaign, Wittum notes. "It saves a lot of paper, ink, and money involved in printing costs. Less than 50% of people read a print newspaper these days, down from 80% in the 1970s, and it continues to drop. Typically young people don't read paper or print newspapers; they go online. The Pioneer moving to this format is in keeping with the times and putting us and our students in position for the future."
"I'm sure the Green Pig will be proud of the new and improved Pioneer," senior Leslie Denton says.
Sophomore Amanda Drake echoes Wittum's sentiments. "I think The Pioneer going online is a great idea because we are supporting Catawba's effort in 'going green' and it allows people to get news fast without waiting for a print paper to come out."