Challenges for small college journalism

Carlos from the Walla Walla Union Bulletin sent this to me over Twitter last night and I think it’s particularly apt to describing the challenges facing the Whitman Pioneer in our effort to move to a more web-based newsroom. In particular, the article lists “Old mindsets from the students” as issue #3; the article describes this as:

Another problem, one that is certainly not unique to small schools, is that a print-centric mindset often still dominates. But at a smaller school, this problem is magnified as well.

“I’m stumped about how to get students — who SHOULD be more attuned to the innovative ways they like to get information — involved in utilizing that information,” said Cameron.

This is something that I’ve found to be particularly frustrating in working for the Whitman Pioneer. There are so many tools out there (Twitter, Publish2, etc.) that would be so beneficial to a student news organization but are nearly impossible to get a significant portion of the newsroom using. I’m working on getting people using Publish2 and maybe even Twitter but am continually confronted by what seems to be a disinterest in actually producing any online content. Anyway, here’s a link to the full article.


Andy Jobanek says:

Hey Spittle,

I just stumbled across your account. What would you suggest for sports to open it up to online content? Frankly, my initial idea for the blogs were to have someone or people write full on articles on every event that takes place on campus, but nobody really seemed interested. You should come to a story meeting to see disinterest, by the by, we have to pull teeth to get people to take stories. I was hoping that the blogs might turn into beats, where a small sports staff would assign one sport to one person and that person would check in with the coach/team captain each week, post any small thing that they find out there, and then be able to more willingly take stories on that team for print, while writing up game reports for that team after a game happens. Obviously, disinterest, as you pointed out is the major obstacle, but given time over spring break, it might come together.

Was that sort of thing what you were thinking of? I’m actually not on twitter, should I be as an editor? If nothing else, know that I’m interested in online stuff for sports and am receptive to your ideas.

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