Reeling in a Digital Audience
Editing for a primarily print newsmagazine on a six-week cycle, I found that our online story designs were often lackluster in comparison to their paper counterparts. This disparity stemmed not from lack of motivation so much as lack of information — in my time on staff, we'd never been trained in how to jazz up a digital story. As a result, last spring I compiled eye-tracking data and simple but effective digital design tips into an interactive presentation for the class. Using a fishing metaphor and a simple catchphrase (hook, line and sinker — cheesy, I know), I taught my fellow Verdites where to place photos for optimal visual engagement and walked them through built-in Wordpress multimedia element-creating tools such as the native POWr plugin.
In the Moment
When broadcast journalist and Palo Alto High School alum Wes Rapaport visited Verde to talk about reporting from the eye of Hurricane Harvey, we wanted to share the gripping account with our audience. For real-time reporting, I opted for a Facebook live stream of the talk to accompany my online news story that was released promptly afterward. Using a combination of traditional text storytelling and digital media, I was able to offer readers a heightened experience — one where they could read about, listen to and witness the event covered.
A Global Platform
Hands Off Net Neutrality
In winter 2017, enraged grandmothers and high school students alike took to the streets of downtown Palo Alto, protesting net neutrality rollbacks proposed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai. The demonstration took place just days before Pai was to cast its vote on net neutrality regulations. My story partner and I raced against the clock to publish our coverage before it lost time relevancy. Sprinting through the crowd, I shot photos and video footage of the protestors marching and chanting around Lytton Plaza, pausing only to interview them. We wanted our package to blend various digital media for a more sensory, snappy and slick presentation. As a result, I created a Storyform to showcase our content instead of a traditional website post. Our final result was tremendously well-received by the Palo Alto community and ultimately won second place photo-slideshow in the 2018 National Scholastic Press Association’s Digital Story of the Year contest. View the story here or watch the click-through below.
Hands Off Net Neutrality
Along with our physical magazine distribution, we release every issue of Verde on the digital publishing platform Issuu, where we've accumulated 286 followers. Last semester, a representative from Issuu headquarters (just 0.7 miles away in downtown Palo Alto) stopped by Verde to demo the new "what's inside" feature about to launch. Unlike before, this new tool would allow readers to preview key stories and click straight to them without needing to click through the entire magazine. The next cycle, we applied tips from the demo for improved web and mobile optimization. See a picture of the "what's inside" feature in use below, or test it for yourself here.
Displayed below the PDF of our volume 20, issue 1 is the "what's inside" panel that enables readers to preview featured content. By clicking on any of the text or visuals in the highlighted box, readers can jump directly to our cover story (the online issue automatically scrolls there).