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Lessons from last month's Online Pacemakers

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Photo by Flickr user cole24 used with Creative Commons permission.

I spent some time talking to winners of last month’s Pacemaker online awards to get their take on what makes a effective Web news outlet. If there was any consensus among these three student media leaders (the other two interviews from KentNewsNet and IowaStateDaily.com will be posted next week) it was that coordination is key to making it all work.

The Daily Kansan. Editor Brenna Hawley. Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.

Hawley said a multimedia course at the University of Kansas is helping prepare print students to engage in multimedia reporting and has led to the incorporation of Google maps and Flash graphics into Kansan.com.  She advises student media outlets looking to step up their online presence to institute staggering deadlines — the Kansan hired additional copy editors to keep up with the increased workload.

Hawley said the paper still grapples with getting newer staff members in tune with the ’round-the-clock pace of the Kansan. “A big struggle is getting newer reporters to meet a Web deadline as opposed to just their regular print deadline.”

The Oklahoma Daily. Senior Online Editor, LeighAnne Manwarren. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.

Manwarren said OU’s football culture pushed the OUDaily.com to step up its Web presence, including regular updates and expanded multimedia coverage to keep its audience engaged during gametime.

“We have a multimedia staff who’s fabulous,” Manwarren said. “I feel proud of the whole Web site. It’s total experiment.”

The paper has also created special pages, tailored for the big news coverage that matters most to OU students, including a page for a student who died 5 years ago from alcohol poisoning.

“Our papers were sold out, but we could say, well, go check out the Web site for coverage,” Manwarren said.

dennews.com. Editor In Chief, Tyler Angelo. Eastern Illinois Univ., Charleston, Ill.

“It should be about working together,” Angelo said. “Knowing what’s going on ahead of time so that everyone’s on the same page.”

Angelo said the day-to-day upkeep of DenNews.Com is what he’s most proud of: Regular Web updates and the incorporation of photo, video and podcasts — as well as weekly meetings between staffs — have made the site stand out.

Angelo said the paper includes a page 2 tease to the Web site, which drives readers used to reading their news in print to the online edition.