T.G.F. J.D.P.

My first workshop of the convention confirmed one thing for me: Thank God for John David Parsons. “Web Publishing with Free Content Managing Systems” was focused on how to build Web sites for college newspapers and how to do so in a free and easy fashion. Content Management Systems, or CMS, take various bits of information and handle the back-end Web site functions. Pages are built automatically and make posting stories a piece of cake. Thanks to JD’s work, we have our own CMS, something I didn’t really or appreciate nearly as much until I fully understood what it meant. Because JD has created our own CMS, Pendulum editors can focus on content rather than coding.

For those newspapers that are struggling to move online or that don’t have their very own Saint Parsons, these sites are great:

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • Movable Type

Even though the workshop’s focus on CMS was not as critical for me, some other parts reinforced how important The Pendulum’s Web presence is. We need a strong commitment from the staff to become “Web-first.” As a weekly publication, by the time the news comes out, it may not be news anymore. With a Web-first frame of mind, we’ll be getting our stories online asap and reaching our audience through our social networking sites (i.e., Twitter and Facebook).

Feedback from the staff and our audience is critical, which reminds me that as soon as we get back, I’m going to seek the staff’s opinions on how can improve and what we’re doing well. Something else I was reminded of is how critical it is to pass on every bit of information I have about how our Web site works to the younger generation of Pendulum editors. I don’t think about all the little things I do on a daily basis and need to share, but from now on I’m going to keep a running list of everything I need to teach the multimedia editors.

At the end of the workshop, we got some notes on how to promote our Web site:

  • Spotlight what’s different
  • Don’t hide the multimedia
  • Cross pollinate with social media
  • Optimize the site for search engines
  • Allow interactivity (polls, comments, etc.)
  • Daily postings are key to driving traffic

~Ashley Barnas


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