Everything you need to know about the Southerner going online

Isabelle "Belle" Harper, Editor-In-Chief

Recently, there has been a change to our student newspaper. It is probably pretty obvious that it has moved residency to a website rather than paper copies. The journey of going from a printed paper to an interactive online site was a challenge, but the results so far seem to show that the change was worth it, and will continue to be in the future.
The transition was necessary for a few different, but equally important, reasons. These included: convenience, price, accessibility and more.
At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, many familiar newspaper faces graduated or decided to take a reduced schedule, leaving only a few returning members. This complicated the process of getting the paper up and running for the first few months. As the days went on, it became clear that if this newspaper was going to move to an online source, that this would be the time to do it. The newbies hadn’t learned the old ways yet, so it was easy to transition to the newer, online way.
Another reason for this change is the fact that people just don’t read newspapers anymore. There are faster, more accurate and easier ways to consume news than turning pages of newsprint. With technology becoming a regular part of daily life, it made sense to make the school newspaper more accessible on phones and computers, rather than on stands in the hallway.
It also allows parents and other non-students to be able to keep up to date on the events happening within the school.
Timeliness was a big issue when the paper was being printed. It was always a complicated process for the staff to cover important events right when they happened, since the paper copy of the newspaper only came out at the end of each month. If anything happened at the beginning of the month, it was almost obsolete by the time the paper made it to the point of being released to the public. With the online publication, events can be written about on the day it happened and posted by the next.
Since going online, readership has been up and there has been more interaction with the website. There is an analytics report on the site, which is helpful to the staff. It shows which stories are getting the most views, therefore helping the students to focus their writing on what the audience is reading. The analytics show that readership spikes right after big events. The site improves the ability to cover important events right away and get the viewers to the site while they are still excited and interested in the topic.
“It makes me more excited to write, because I know that people are actually going to read it now,” said two-year member of the newspaper staff and photographer, Logan McClain. “I’ve seen people interacting with our website and I never noticed that last year when we would put the papers out. I’m really happy with this transition and am glad that it happened during my time here at Gibson Southern.”
Not only is the website more convenient and more accessible, but it also brings the cost of production way down. There is a yearly charge, rather than paying each month for the printing of hard copy newspapers.
Along with the lower cost, a paperless newspaper is better for the environment and keeps paper out of the landfills. With the paper copies, they were removed each month and replaced. The papers that weren’t picked up, which was a large quantity, were disposed of. The online version allows stories to be seen, even after they’ve been up for months.
“I’m a purest in many regards, and I love having a physical paper printed,” newspaper advisor, Jared Grigsby said. “However, I’m also a realist. We were printing papers and throwing away most of what was printed. The world is digital. We needed to adapt to what the world wants.”
The Southerner website is in color, unlike the papers, which were printed in black and white. In 2020, it is uncommon to see non colorful photos, so this is just another example of how The Southerner is being brought into the 21st century.
Another new feature is photo galleries. Instead of having to choose just a few photos from each event, or sometimes none at all, they can make a gallery of an unlimited amount of photos. Photos found on the site can be saved to computers or phones, allowing parents and grandparents to have photos of the students.
“I like how all the photos are in color, and that we can post more than just two or three photos,” photographer editor Hannah Long said. “My photographers spend lots of time taking photos, so it is nice to be able to show off their work.”
It is easier to search for a specific topic or staff member using the features on the website. There is a section for news, sports, arts and entertainment and a photo gallery. This will ultimately be helpful for organization for the Southerner staff in the future. They can look back on past stories that occur each year and get ideas on how to improve their own.
“There is a lot of stuff the new website lets us do,” Grigsby said. “We are still learning and making changes as we learn what the site’s limits are.”
The staff of the Southerner is constantly making new discoveries on the site and making changes to improve the viewer’s experience. So check back frequently, tell your friends and enjoy the website.