HighlanderNews Upgrades Site

Ellen Hoffman, Editor-in-Chief

A football program. A new residence hall. A remodeled commuter lounge. The 2012-2013 school year has already provided numerous changes on campus. The Highlander ifs followng suit with a new thehighlandernews.org website.

Highlandernews.net, now hosted through WordPress.com, is supported by School Newspapers Online. WordPress allows the same gadgets as College Publisher but at a lesser cost to the newspaper staff.

“Wordpress is an amazing program that helps give the site a crisp clean look and allows for quick changes ensuring that the site will always be up to date,” Web Editor Shawn Kellmer said.

Dan Kimbrough, communications professor, helped Kellmer and Web Master Arthur Dowell upgrade and build the site over the summer. They transferred existing files from the previous semester to the new site and added new features to prepare for the first issue. Kimbrough thanks WordPress for the easy switch between sites and knows the staff will have an easier time managing HighlanderNews.

“The transition to WordPress was great because WordPress is a lot easier to use,” Kimbrough said. “I think the new website is user-friendly and far more appealing than the old site and it allows the students who manage the site to organize it a lot more easily.”

Major additions include a sports center filled with sports scores and game times, an athlete of the week feature and a multimedia section for photo and video galleries. Dowell took charge of the athlete feature by talking to fall coaches and members of the athletic department. Because MU continues to grow, especially with athletes, the staff decided featuring a different player each week would help promote the many athletic opportunities. Profiles will include biography information as well as details explaining why this player earned the title of athlete of the week. Dowell said he wanted to add a weekly feature that would direct more students to the site.

“We figured this would be something they would be interested in because it would feature teammates or friends,” Dowell said. “Hopefully it will work out like we planned and reach a wider audience.”

The multimedia galleries will help multimedia editor Mary Bove display photographers’ work that cannot fit into the print edition. Staffers try to cover as many events throughout the school year as possible, but not all of them can fit in the print edition of the paper. With multimedia galleries, students can view all photos and videos–at a much faster rate. the sports center, which is the biggest feature, includes updated scores and notice of upcoming games for every sport on campus.

“Our idea is that if we cover events that students are interested in and post the information or videos or photos that night or the next day there should be no reason students wouldn’t want to check it out and keep coming back,” Dowell said.

While Dowell will work with sports coverage, and Bove will cover multimedia, Kellmer handles all other web content. His  goals include attracting viewers, gaining subscribers and staying organized.

“My overall goal is to make the new website visually appealing and a much better experience than the old site for anyone who may visit,” Kellmer said.