Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Owens Outlook to be taken off maintenance mode April 1

Screen grab of the countdown to the launch date of the Owens Outlook online newspaper:

   Mark your calendars!
   April 1 is the launch date for the debut of the new and improved Owens Outlook student online newspaper! 
   The website, currently in mainetenace mode, is going live that day, and the student staff is very excited, nervous and terrified, but definitely ready and able to once again report the news for the Owens Community College community.
   Unfortunately, not too many people on campus know Owens even has an online newspaper, or that The Outlook website was shut down for most of this semester. It's a sad fact that ever since the print edition ceased several years ago, the online edition eventually faded away to black.
   Shutting down the website early in the semester wasn't an easy decision for editor-in-chief Josh Widanka to make, but I still think it was the right one. He decided that his staff needed to be trained as scholastic journalists before representing the student newspaper. We also hired a new company, School Newspapers Online (SNO), to host our website.
   Why such extreme measures? Because Owens canned its journalism program about the same time the printed paper was put to rest. By cutting that class, most of the student Outlook staff didn't have any idea of what it takes to be responsible scholastic journalists. 
   To help solve that problem, I designed an 8-week News Academy training regime that ends March 27. During the 2-hour weekly training sessions, they learned the following skills, much of it from guest trainers from the Toledo Blade:
  • What news is, and how to cover a beat
  • Writing (how to interview subjects, take notes and craft stories)
  • Photography (how to use Photo Mechanic, upload photos and write captions)
  • Law and ethics
  • Copyrighting 
  • Social media
   In the beginning of the semester, during our very first meeting, I referred to The Outlook as a fail lab, meaning they will most assuredly make lots of mistakes during their on-the-job training. It's impossible to expect them to learn everything they need to know about journalism in 16 hours, but my philosophy as an adviser is not that they be punished for their mistakes, but that they be rewarded for learning from them. 
   I have confidence their mistakes will lesson as their own confidence grows! After all, a student newspaper is the perfect workplace to hone their writing, communication and critical thinking skills, which better prepares them for whatever profession they choose when they graduate.
   Nope, this is no April Fool's joke. April 1 is the day Owens gets their student newspaper back!

A big giant THANKS to the following Toledo Blade employees who donated their time and expertise during the News Academy training sessions this semester:
Alex Mester, animal welfare reporter; Dave Hackenberg, sports columnist; Don Emmons, sports reporter; copy editors Heather Denniss and Shannon Kolkedy; Perrysburg beat reporter Matt Thompson; photojournalist Katie Rausch; webmaster Nabil Shaheen and education reporter Nolan_Rosenkrans.

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