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The online culture

June 17, 2006

Got an e-mail from an instructor at a community college today about the trouble he is having getting his students to embrace the online edition.

Keyboard insert keyHe can’t get volunteers and has even offered to pay a student to update the site. He is doing what so many schools do; he’s trying to turn the site over to one individual. Been there, done that, found a better way. The WHOLE staff has to be involved with the online edition. It has to be part of the culture of the newsroom. Turn it over to one person and you have to replace that person at some point. Make it part of the culture of the whole product and it self-perpetuates.

Oh, sure, you will want to name an online editor to oversee the site, much as you would name a sports editor to oversee a sports page. But if your sports editor is your only sports writer/photographer, you have the same semester-to-semester problem. All writers and photographers must be responsible for uploading their own content to the web site. Designers need to contribute, too. Only if ALL are involved will they embrace it. The online site CANNOT be an EXTRA activity, it has to be a part of THE activity.

It may take time and effort to infuse complete participation into the culture. Indeed, it probably should. But if making an online edition a part of the educational process is important, it is worth the effort.

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