Web Presence Not Just About Showing Up

On January 12th, the editor in chief of The Flyer News at the University of Dayton posted a response to a letter criticizing the paper’s editorial cartoonist for misrepresenting various individuals and aspects of the school.

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The EIC’s argument is well-written and well-reasoned and I applaud him for not shying away from a dialogue with impassioned readers.  The sigh I emitted when scanning the article was not directed at the content but its presentation, a decidedly Web-unfriendly style that I come across on the sites of way too many student news outlets.

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Everything we’ve been taught (and for us educators that we teach) related to the new media universe is link-link-link.  There’s even a new term floating around the blogosphere known as link journalism.  Yet, while the Flyer News article refers to the reader’s letter to which it is responding, some of the cartoons causing the reader’s concern, and even a separate e-mail response from a university administrator,  no links or Scribd documents are provided to give curious readers a chance to check things out for themselves.

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My goal here is NOT simply to single out the Flyer News.  (Again, as someone who’s followed this controversy a bit, I think the article content is sound and the decision behind-the-scenes to answer the reader’s letter was the right call.)  Instead, I simply want to point out that articles such as this need and deserve more care and thought about how they will appear online as well as in print. 

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To all student journalists and the educators and advisers who love them: We must get beyond the shovelware mentality!  Posting a basic copy-paste of our print news products online is no longer enough!  And we can only keep citing the small-staff-already-overworked-still-learning-the-tech-stuff-no-funding-for-quality-redesign-or-CMS excuse for so long.

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It’s a new media world in collegemediatopia.  Web presence requires a different presentation style.  It’s not just about showing up.

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  1. […] curdle.  They are amateur-ish, ill-designed, static, burdened with text, lacking images, and an absolute affront to link journalism.  Worse yet, some outlets have no Web presence at all or scant efforts, such as a site housing […]