An Adviser’s Confession: Our Student Newspaper Blog Stinks

I am writing an adviser’s confession: Our student newspaper blog stinks.

Amid many scoops and successes this semester, The Minaret, the weekly campus paper I advise at the University of Tampa, has endured a major bust. Roughly three months in, our efforts to launch a buzzworthy and newsworthy blog have failed — spectacularly.

But I will not go quietly into that long production night, which for us is Tuesday.  Instead, I want my staff to learn from our mistakes and grow our blog, The Crescent, into something better. I also want to ensure others do not follow in our #epicfail footsteps.

In that spirit, here are the top ten reasons I believe our student newspaper blog, so far, has flopped.

1. We don’t have a dedicated blog editor. Our managing editor oversees the blog. At first glance, that makes sense. He’s a workaholic new media whiz kid with design chops and an unbridled passion for journalism and the newspaper. So far though, it has been hellish for him.

I know we live in a journalism age in which everyone is supposed to be equipped to do everything. And I know that student newspaper staffers regularly double and triple up on their defined job scope for the greater good of the paper. But for our managing editor — someone who is already enmeshed in layout, staff oversight, copy editing, reporting, and budget issues — launching and overseeing the blog appears to be a step too far.

Even in the short time I’ve known him, I’ve been able to measure his stress not by the look on his face, but the fuzz. When he’s clean-shaven, I know all’s well and we have a solid issue. When he sports two-day stubble, I know there’s a major misspelling in a published headline and a reporter who’s gone MIA. When he periodically dives into blog work, his scruff becomes a full-blown “defeat” beard, the kind Al Gore grew after he lost the 2000 Presidential Election and the one Conan O’Brien continues to sport after being ousted from “The Tonight Show.”

A blog is important enough to have a staffer whose sole or most significant responsibility revolves around its maintenance. Just because a staffer in a separate position has the skills, knowledge or willingness to augment their work with additional blog oversight does not mean that they should.

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