ACP Online Pacemaker Finalist: The GW Hatchet

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 up . . .

The GW Hatchet

The Hatchet site mixes a newsy content base with a bluesy color scheme- atop a CMN template.  The homepage does teeter a bit toward text-heavy and too-much-for-the-eye-ness, but the soft blue headlines and big-enough-to-actually read story teasers make it work.  I also like that staff do not give up on the below-the-scroll portion.  Instead of a used-car-lot-like links listing, the featured content is still organized with care into appropriate sections and with occasional accompanying images.

The multimedia slate looks impressive- a collage of squared still images advertising photo sets, audio slideshows, and videos.  Organizing them by date and without even the briefest of explainers does make them a bit overwhelming/bewildering to take in all at once.

The standout online Hatchet job is found in the paper’s blogosphere. The six blogs cover an array of areas- from basic news and “Beyond the Books” student life to glimpses inside the Hatchet newsroom.  For example, the latter blog recently featured a direct apology to readers for a scheduling error that caused the staff to miss covering one school’s graduation ceremony.

Most impressive: Unlike many student news sites, the blogs do not exist in isolation.  They are all hyped and linked from a central site (see below).  Most also earn individual shout-outs in multiple spots on the Hatchet homepage.  The blog content overall is still a bit sporadic, but the organization angle is solid.  My favorite of the bunch: Passports, a rundown of GW students’ study abroad experiences.  It allows multiple undergrads to write reflections and post photos to a degree that would just not be desirable or possible in print.

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