Hacking the Student Newsroom – Winter projects recap

Last Thursday a few of us gathered to talk about the development projects that will be seeing heavy work over the winter break. Max Cutler, Andrew Dunn, Will, Daniel, and Lauren joined me for a half hour conversation covering the various projects that we are all working on. The full audio is attached at the bottom of the post and here are some highlights of what we talked about.


First up Max gave us an update on where development on Nando stands. As Lauren mentioned last week, Nando is the administrative side of the Courant News CMS. Max and Rob Baskin will be developing the templates for the interface and I’ll be working with them on designing the user interface and experience. The project is in the early stages right now but wireframes for the interface will be released soon so stay tuned to the Google Group for updates.

Edit Flow

Daniel also recapped what will be happening with Edit Flow over break. Work will be ramping up on version 0.3 of the plugin which will include more granular control over email notifications and user groups. Other features include some bug fixes as well as visualizing posts through a calendar-like interface.


Will Davis also filled us in on some of the work that will be done on Courier, his plugin for better email notifications. Courier already has support for custom templates and will be gaining further subscription options. The plugin update should be released before the end of break so stay tuned for updates.

Tar Heel iPhone app

Finally, Andrew Dunn talked a bit about The Daily Tar Heel’s iPhone app that he announced on Thursday. The app includes their Housing Guide as well as all the news, classifieds, and radio that you’d expect. It also has a feature that Andrew talked about on the call: a drink specials mini-app.

To hear more about all of the above projects listen to the full audio below.

Student media spotlight: Web projects for winter break

Leading into this week’s Hacking the Student Newsroom session, here’s a quick preview of online projects individual student journalists and newsorgs will be conducting over the upcoming winter break:

Investigative multimedia site from McKenna Ewen

twitterpic3-150x150McKenna Ewen, a multimedia journalist at the University of Minnesota, is doing an investigative piece about a journalist’s mysterious death in Minneapolis in 1945. This winter break, he’s putting together a custom site and documentary about the story. Ewen says:

[Investigative reporter James Shiffer] approached me in August about helping build the project into a website and making a short documentary of it. I agreed and made it part of my senior thesis, which is about increasing video views on the web. We’re going to launch project independently and see how much traffic we can pull in without an advertising budget (it should be interesting).

The anticipated publish date is early in January (we’ll link you to it when it launches). Update: This post originally stated the project was part of a collaboration with the Star Tribune. It is not.

Development continues on Nando from Max Cutler, Rob Baskin, and Andrew Spittle

Yale student Max Cutler has been working on a workflow tool for the administrative side of the Courant News CMS, code named “Nando.” A few features for the tool include a pitch system, a workflow based around statuses and user roles, and a heavily customizable dashboard for all of this activity. He’s recruited CoPress’ Andrew Spittle to continue development on the project over winter break. You can hear more about what they’ll be working on specifically at today’s Hacking The News workshop.

SR2 Blog from Josh Halliday

sr2blogJosh Halliday, a journalism student at the University of Sunderland, is starting a project for community-based blogging as part of his final project. From the blog’s about page:

SR2 Blog is the new community-run neighbourhood news website, dedicated to the SR2 area of Sunderland.

We’re recruiting community reporters who either want to keep their neighbours on top of what’s going on down their street or vent on an issue that’s not being dealt with. If you live, work or know SR2 why not get involved?

SR2Blog features news broken down by neighborhood, video, liveblogs, and social media. The project is an interesting experiment in -hyperlocal, community-generated news and we’ll be interested to watch its progression.

EditFlow updates from Mo Jangda, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Bressler and Will Davis

EditFlow_Logo-Av1_280Edit Flow is a WordPress plugin being developed by Mo Jangda, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Bressler and Will Davis to help tailor the CMS’s workflow for an editorial environment. Although the first few phases of the project have already been released, the plugin is still actively in development. Here’s what they’ll will be working on this winter as part of the next phase (via the CoPress wiki):

  • More granular email notifications, including the ability to have a notification go to a predefined group of people
  • User groups with functionality to define specific groups of users within WordPress.
  • Visualization of the editorial workflow data within WordPress, let it be through a calendar view, an activity stream, or other.
  • The ability to define newsroom-specific metadata for each post.
  • Functionality to allow custom definition of a required set of actions for each piece. These could be “copy-edit,” “fact-check,” etc.

SB Statesman redesign and restructuring from Bradley Donaldson

statesmanThe SB Statesman — the student newsorg at Stony Brook University in New York — has a winter goal that every student publication can and should be pursuing this break: redesigning and resturcturing their site. From editor-in-chief, Bradley Donaldson, here are a few goals they have:

  • Create a website that has a greater focus on multimedia.
  • Make the site much more user-friendly and student-centered
  • Harness social media to both spread the word about the newspaper and have a presence in student communities

What I really like about this redesign project is that it’s not a feat accomplished by a few web editors, but the staff as a whole. Donaldson said they’re finally taking a step they’ve neglected in the past:

Fortunately we have a good number of staffers who are interested in helping out with this, and the entire newsroom on a whole is excited about the changes being made. We’ve neglected our online presence too much or been very inconsistent with it in the past, even though we had the manpower and know-how to really improve it.

Full disclosure: The Statesman plans to launch its new redesign on CoPress’ Managed Hosting plan.

If you want to hear about what’s going on specifically with Edit Flow, Nando and Courant News, or just want some feedback on what you’re working on now’s the chance: join today’s Hacking the Student Newsroom session. The session will be run through TalkShoe so just call (724) 444-7444 at 4 p.m. PST and enter the Call ID when asked (it’s 67693).