Use a punch card system to help generate varied web content

This past year my newspaper staff made a huge push towards improving our student news website. All staff members were required to write a story of their choosing once every 3 weeks and then our Web EIC would edit it and post it to the site. In theory, we should have had a ton of stories coming in, which we did, but since students could choose to write about whatever they wanted, most of the stories were opinion pieces or movie reviews. -_-
So, in an attempt to force some more variety on the web, we created a web story punch card for each writer. Each writer is assigned 4 web story deadlines throughout the semester, and they can choose when they will write their news story, their sports story, their feature story, their opinion article or they can replace one of those with an infographic if they prefer. This way we will see some variety in story types and students still have the freedom to decide what they want to write about and when. Our Web EIC sends out deadline reminders at the start of the week along with upcoming events/ sports/ potential topics in case anyone is struggling to come up with an idea. All writers email the Web EIC back with their story of choice so we don’t have any repeats as well. Once the stories are in, the Web EIC punches the writer’s card to signify it was in on time and also to ensure they don’t write multiple opinion pieces.

Sarah Semmel

Sarah Semmel advises the newspaper and yearbook at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri, and is currently in her fourth year of teaching journalism and English.

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