North Central College’s journalism students have kicked up their skill level a few hundred notches with new print designs for the Chronicle and a user-friendly website called NCClinked.com. Their hard work in developing a new face for the student news operation hasn’t gone unnoticed in the journalism world.
The NCClinked website placed second for Best Website Small School in the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) Best of the Midwest competition. The Chronicle competed against some 30-40 colleges and universities in categories with enrollment numbers at 10,000 and under. The Chronicle also received six awards on Feb. 20 by the Illinois College Press Association (ICPA), including placing in the General Excellence category.
The Chronicle team worked through the summer and into fall term to develop a modern design for NCClinked that would appeal to its target market: the North Central community, families and alumni.
“The whole process started with looking at different themes,” said Shane Hoffman ’16, web editor. “Last year’s theme was nice, but we wanted something different. We took a look at what ranked as some of the best magazine and newspaper themes on the web and weighed the pros and cons of our favorites. We decided on one that the whole staff liked and started customizing it. It allowed us to start fresh with a new look.”
“New” seems to be the common trend for the Chronicle this year with a transition in leadership and innovative ideas. Even moving into North Central’s winter term, the lead editors turned their attention to a web-first structure.
“We saw our focus changing, even from fall term,” said Jarred DeHerrera ’17, co-managing editor. “Our main focus was on the print version of the newspaper, but we saw opportunity with the changing landscape of news. Our audience is a lot broader on the website. You can get one thousand views on one article, whereas, in the newspaper, we only print 800 copies. I think our shift in focus toward web first, then print, has really helped us get a lot more content online.”
“Our website has so many different aspects,” said Crystal Madrigal ’16, co-managing editor. “It really focuses on the different things our staff likes to do, whether that’s video, photography, podcasts, writing or design.”
The Chronicle offers students unique opportunities to contribute work of all types because of the available technology and open-minded leaders like Kay O’Donnell, assistant professor of journalism. During fall term, the Chronicle debuted its first podcast series called “Chatterbox with Antwan and PrinceToms,” created by Anthony La Parry ’19 and Tommy Varela ’19. The Chronicle also expanded its news coverage and took to different social media platforms like Pinterest, to appeal to fashion gurus like fashion writer Stella Fanega ’16.
“Being a small staff of 15-20 students, we’re welcoming of new ideas,” said O’Donnell. “We’re not so rigid and inflexible that we say ‘Nope, never done that. We don’t do that.’ We say, ‘let’s try it.’”
Looking to the future, the Chronicle plans to expand its online presence and incorporate live coverage for events at North Central College, including athletics and theatre productions through social media platforms like Twitter. All Chronicle social media platforms appear on NCClinked.
“We’ve done some wider coverage this year of events while they are going on, immediately after, and within a few hours we’ve published a full video or story,” said O’Donnell. “I think that’s where we are moving, so that’s what we’ve been working toward.”
Several members of the Chronicle team attended the ICPA Convention, Feb. 19-20. DeHerrera and O’Donnell presented at a panel with other colleges and universities about how they run their newspapers with the available staff and tools for both print and web.
The ICPA convention culminated with an awards luncheon, where the Chronicle received six awards, including recognition in the General Excellence category. The awards covered sports writing, headline writing and design with two first-place honors for Front Page Design and Sports Page Design. The awards recognized the overall talents of the staff as well as their graphics editor Taylor Mithelman ’16, news editor Bob Tomaszewski ’17 and contributor Emily Zadny ’17.
By Stephanie Snyder ’15/M ’17