ACP Online Pacemaker Finalist: Daily Kansan

In late March, the Associated Collegiate Press announced its selection of 50 finalists for the annual Online Pacemaker awards.  The finalists represent online versions of print publications  and online-only outlets at U.S. schools large and small, public and private, admin.-controlled and independent.  Sites were evaluated for the quality of their “multimedia storytelling, writing and editing, site design, in-depth and complete coverage, interactivity, and graphics and photography.”

In this occasional CMM series, I offer my personal take on some finalists’ standout innovations or positive attributes- aimed at helping other student media up their Web games.  Next on the list . . .

Daily Kansan

The Kansan homepage always makes me smile the moment it loads.  In my humble opinion, it sports the nicest online masthead in collegemediatopia- complete with blue skies and a well-drawn campus landscape.  It also meshes perfectly with the site’s other standout design statute: White does not have to equal right.  Instead of sporting the traditional white backdrop, the black (or maybe absurdly dark gray?) backer to the above-the-scroll portion of the site absolutely allows the featured content to better leap out from the page.

The bigger-is-better, less-is-more approach with the featured top content is also laudable.  In a Web world filled with link-till-you-drop story listings, the Kansan is nicely restrained.  The site sells five main stories above all others. They scroll automatically and, wonder upon wonders, they feature headers and teasers and photos actually large enough to see and fully consider.

Separately, the paper sports an impressively eclectic mix of blogs.  The blogs would be enhanced by having mini-mastheads at the top of each of their individualized pages.  (Too many student media blogs still appear like basic articles.)  My advice: Contact the individual who created your homepage masthead and the blog headers will be home runs.

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