Ramp up daily content by keeping it simple

Chase Chalker mugWhat happens when you have to post something about your campus every morning?

Chase Chalker (that’s him with the camera) became the first editor-in-chief of Georgia Southern Student Media’s “Digital Division” in fall 2014. While our newspaper, The George-Anne, continued to post news content, the new division was charged with posting something about campus life every weekday by the time our readers pulled out their phones for lunchtime browsing.

Chase and his crew tackled the mission with gusto and before long had created The Circle, a home for not only daily stories and photos but also a lot of video. (If you’re following industry trends, you won’t be surprised to know that video won the most visits.)

Chase wrote a column about the effort for the Georgia College Press Association newsletter. His advice might be boiled down to: Keep it simple. Here’s a slightly revised version.

By Chase Chalker

Daily content is a tall order for student publications. We’re students: we have classes, lives, and our lunch breaks range from one to three hours depending on that day’s drink specials. But being daily online is still possible and easier than most students think.

This is our second semester doing daily content five days a week. At one point we tried the weekends, but Georgia Southern news is the last thing students seem interested in during those precious few weekend hours between watching Netflix and deciding where to order dinner from. We use a briefs system where reporters are assigned to one shift every week between peak hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and write a short story.

The reporters are either assigned a minor event on campus to cover or they head out to our high traffic areas and see what’s going on. They take a photo or two, write 200 to 300 words and send it to the editor who edits and posts it. It’s a simple system that works well for us, and while it might not work for other campuses there are things to try that might work for you.

One thing I would recommend is to cut out as many middlemen as possible. No copy editors, no managing editors, just the reporter and the editor. The more steps there are, the longer it’s going to take for that story to go up.

Social media is a prime place to pull brief story ideas from. It’s easy for a reporter to go and do a “your view” story based off of whatever happened on TV or the internet the day before. It’s also a good way to stay engaged with your campus population.

Mindset of your reporters is a huge part of doing it on the daily. I try to get my reporters to think of these minor stories as what they are: just minor stories. They come in, knock it out real fast and that’s it. This leaves them time to work on larger projects and stories while helping us maintain the daily side.

Daily is an important part of what we do. We want to be engaged with our campus, and constantly know what’s happening. Daily is the key to that, and I encourage other colleges to work on some sort of daily system.

About adviserdavid

Student media director, Georgia Southern University

Posted on May 4, 2015, in Digital/social, Reporting, What to cover. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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