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Enumclaw High School newspaper goes online

Adding an online version of the Enumclaw High School newspaper The Hornet has been a learning experience.

The list of advantages is long. There were at least 11 adviser Victor Wallace presented to a group of colleagues during a summer workshop on why every high school should have an online newspaper.

“It seems to be the direction things were going,” he said. “And certainly there are some advantages, cost-wise and with timeliness, where we can put something out the day of, or day after, an event rather than three weeks later. It’s also in line with the way students access news these days.”

It also gives students the opportunity to get their hands into a more current news medium, expand their Web design skills and access reader feedback easier.

According to Wallace, The Hornet was online about 12 years ago and revived recently, but it was something that happened after the print edition, an afterthought.

“We were putting things on during down time, after the fact when we got around to it,” Wallace said. “Now it’s a priority.”

Editor Reilly Williams, “post master” Kameron Jacobs and a staff of roughly 18 try to update the online version, www.thehornetnews.com, with fresh content daily.

For example, Wallace said, staff can post an article and photographs of a sporting event the following morning, rather than three months later.

“It’s definitely more accessible for more people,” Williams said. “Because of it we can keep information more timely. Kameron does a great job mobilizing people to get things done.”

Wallace sees that constant flow to generate news a bonus. Deadlines are faster and more frequent. The paper version of The Hornet prints quarterly, which can lead to down time for students.

“It keeps us really consistently on our toes,” Jacobs said.

Williams said her staff keeps busy, because there is no down time. “It makes us faster, more efficient and more aware of what’s going on,” she said.

Wallace and the staff have not abandoned their print version. Both he and Williams said the most recent publication of The Hornet was top notch.

“It more of a showcase of the best we have,” Williams said.

“Because we’re printing less often, it becomes more of a greatest hits kind of thing,” Wallace said.

Those four print issues, with a press run of between print 1,500 to 2,000, costs the program about $600 each edition. Those costs can be made up through advertising, but students are starting to sell advertising on their Web site and also make their photographs available for purchase at www.mynewsphoto.com.

In these tough economic times with programs seeing cuts, Wallace plans to use online generated sales to continue to support the program, purchase equipment and fund a trip for staff to a national conference in Portland, Ore.

“I don’t think they’re learning any less,” Wallace said. “The gains are far more than the losses.”

He said there’s been a concentrated effort right now to get the word out.

“The biggest challenge is getting the readers,” Wallace said of the online version. He said unlike the printed piece where staff can see students pick it up and read it, the Web is trickier. “Certainly there are no guarantees anyone’s going to look at it.”

The Hornet staff believes content will drive online readership.

“We need to find ways to get people to come to us,” Wallace said. “The challenge for us is that there’s something there when they do look that will make it worth their while.”

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