Tag Archives: College Newspaper

The Orion’s Going #DigitalFirst

Ben Mullin - Journalism and English Literature major, and Managing Editor, The OrionBy Ben Mullin, Journalism and English Literature major
Managing Editor, The Orion

When The Orion news team convened for the first meeting of the semester, I told them all to take a deep breath and close their eyes.

Some raised their eyebrows. Some cracked hesitant smiles. But they humored me while I began my speech:

“I want you to imagine you’re all big shot reporters for the New York Times,” I said, eliciting genuine smiles from the group. “Suddenly, you get the call: the Empire State Building is on fire. You rush over to the scene and talk to the police, who tell you the building could collapse at any minute.”

I paused for dramatic effect. It’s possible one of them yawned.

screen cap of daily newscast
Daily Newscasts posted to YouTube now fill the gap between print issues.

“Suddenly, you’re confronted by a mother who’s out of her mind with worry because her baby’s stuck on one of the floors. When she asks you about the situation, what do you do? Tell her everything you know right away, or ask her to wait until tomorrow morning for the print edition?”

It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are still a few news organizations who operate using the latter method: they report the news all day and put their stories into the next day’s newspaper, just in time for it to be outdated and irrelevant.

Up until about last year, The Orion, Chico State’s student-run newspaper did just that, even though we’ve had a website since the late ’90s. A few stories inevitably found their way online between weekly editions, but the majority was posted Tuesday night, right before our print edition came out on Wednesday.

orion twitter feed
@TheOrion_News Twitter account posts stories as they break throughout the week.

This semester was different. The majority of news writers made Twitter accounts for The Orion and posted brief bulletins whenever they noticed something interesting or newsworthy happening on campus. When we were notified that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Brett Olson went missing during the annual Labor Day float, we posted it to Twitter immediately. When we heard that Governor Brown was visiting campus to promote Proposition 30, it was online within the hour. And when Chico State president Paul Zingg suspended the Greek system, we had a videographer, a reporter, and two photographers on the scene, with coverage to match.

On Halloween weekend, reporters and photographers stayed out until 2 a.m. capturing images and stories for publication the next day. I would routinely get called at O’Dark Thirty from staff writer Pedro Quintana, who slept during the day so he could listen to the police scanner at night.

The Orion isn’t the first collegiate newspaper to attempt to bolster its online presence through Facebook, Twitter, and a neverending stream of online stories. In many ways, we’re behind the times. But this year, the Associated Collegiate Press acknowledged our efforts by naming The Orion as a finalist for an online Pacemaker award, widely regarded as the Pulitzer Prize of digital college journalism.

orion app screen cap
Screen shot of The Orion app, now available for Apple and Android devices.

When the awards were announced last semester, The Orion wasn’t among the winners. But most of the editors saw our failure to clinch the award as inspiration to try again next semester, with a focus on delivering news to Chico State’s students in real time, with text, photos, and video. We’re also launching an app which students can use to get their Chico State news from their smartphones.

Chico State, welcome to the future of journalism. We’ll see you all on the other side.

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Visit The Orion online at theorion.com, twitter.com/theorion_news, or facebook.com/the-orion.

The Orion is My Life

By Liam Turner, Senior, Major: Communication Design — Graphic Design, Minor: Photographic Studies

The Orion is unabashedly my life. During the semester, from midday Sunday until Tuesday night, I spend about 14 hours sleeping and what seems like the other 46 in The Orion offices in the Plumas Hall basement. With a couple more hours thrown in throughout the rest of the week, I spend about half of my waking hours at The Orion each week.

You may call it insanity, but I call it passion. I became the art director at the end of the fall 2010 semester, and the spring was a whirlwind. The Orion quickly defined my life with a meeting or task every day (except Saturday). I was rudely awakened early on more than one Wednesday morning to help distribute the paper. Sunday night work shifts rolled into Monday morning often, and with an 8 a.m. class, that’s hell. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

Almendra Carpizo & Liam Turner at the Hollywood Journalism Convention

I was hired a little over a year ago as an editorial designer, someone who helps lay out the stories, photos, and other content. Then I was paired with a first-time editor, Almendra Carpizo, on the features section, and the two of us have moved up together. Almendra will be The Orion’s editor-in-chief this fall.

This is my Chico experience. I get to be a part of this community while at The Orion. I have the chance to learn how to be an art director and a leader. I get the opportunity to build my own staff and train my designers. And we all get the privilege of putting together a high-quality product and seeing it in the hands of students every week.

This is a pretty rare opportunity in college, too. To lead fellow students and really create an environment of development and design is something I wouldn’t have expected. I’m grateful, though.

Even after all the stressful deadlines, all the late nights and long hours, and the toll a full-time job (plus a 15-unit schedule) takes, this is still the best job I’ve ever had. There are three reasons for this.

First and foremost, I’m able to work with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met. Secondly, we get the opportunity to hone our respective talents in a professional environment with real consequences and real rewards. Finally, the work we do has a real effect on the community, and we operate on a relatively large stage.

Orion staff at Hollywood Journalism Convention

The people, of course, are incredible. I’m very, very proud of our staff, from the upper management to the section editors to the staff writers and the business staff. We’re learning, but we’re still doing a great job. In fact, The Orion has historically been a very successful college newspaper. This last year, we again won the national excellence award at the annual collegiate newspaper conference—for the fifth straight year.

The Orion also provides an important voice for students and organizations on campus. While we use campus facilities (visit us in Plumas 001), we’re independent of the school and pay for our printing and distribution expenses entirely through sales of advertising. We strive for excellence, and we try to be as professional as possible.

You won’t see much of my writing in the fall, but you will see a fantastic and still developing video department as part of The Orion. It’s a great opportunity for students to get behind and in front of the cameras. You’ll also see Chico State’s award-winning student newspaper enter its 72nd semester.