Some say that journalism is a dying art, but The Hub newspaper at Davis High School has found a way to keep up with ever-changing trends through its website, bluedevilhub.com.
“Both products (the newspaper and website) have equal status and distinct missions,” said DHS teacher Kelly Wilkerson, The Hub’s adviser. “The mission of the website is to inform and update on breaking news, while the purpose of the newspaper is to analyze, explain and entertain.”
When Wilkerson first took over the class in 2004, only 20 students were enrolled in Journalism 1 — the prerequisite course for Hub staff — nowhere close to the number needed to support a fully functioning website.
It wasn’t until 2008 that, with a bigger class, bluedevilhub.com could be updated frequently with different types of articles, videos and radio clips. It has been evolving ever since; since 2010, the website is updated daily.
“It’s a lot more web-based now … before it was more of just the newspaper put onto a website, but now it kind of has its own feel to it,” said The Hub’s webmaster, junior Hannah Musgrove.
Since the print newspaper is produced only once a month, the website provides readers with breaking news, sports updates and stories that would be untimely if held for newspaper publication.
Reporters are extra-cognizant of posting stories at a time when reader activity will be at its max.
“If you’re covering a newsworthy event, the story has to go up the day after or sooner, when people are still interested in it,” said multimedia editor Sarah Garrett, a junior. “Because if you have a story going up a week afterwards, nobody cares about it anymore.”
This year, The Hub introduced a new form of storytelling to the website — multimedia packages — which involve pairing written articles with different forms of media, such as video clips or hyperlinks.
This addition to the site incorporated Wilkerson’s vision of each student journalist becoming a “jack of all trades, master of one.”
Twisting the common phrase “jack of all trades, master of none,” Wilkerson makes sure that each student is capable of not only writing, but also taking photographs, producing video and audio segments, and constructing interactive graphics. Then, each student is expected to specialize in one area.
The Hub’s website news editor, junior Ashley Han, described the appeal of mixing media with text.
“People want to actually experience the story, rather than just reading it, because then they get the bigger picture,” Han said.
“Humans are visual creatures,” Garrett added. “We have so much more technology now than we used to, so we should take advantage of that and make our website as interesting to the reader as possible.”
Other ways The Hub is increasing views is through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, where links to website stories can be shared to multiple people at once.
Next year’s multimedia editor-in-chief Riley Donahue, a junior, explained the purpose of media outreach.
“What you need is the worm on the hook to get the fish in,” Donahue said. “People will start clicking on more of our links and start coming back if they like what they see.”
He added that there might be more The Hub can do to gain viewers.
“I think it’s important to branch out where you post your videos,” he said. “There are so many online platforms these days for videos that we’re maybe not tapping into — platforms like Reddit.”
Even though The Hub is expanding the pool of readers who can easily access its stories, critics say the articles still should pertain solely to Davis High and the surrounding Davis community.
“You have a niche: your school. Defend the niche and be the best at covering things that matter to your readers,” Vincent Falak commented in The Hub’s 2014 National Scholastic Press Association website critique.
The site was named all-American for the first time ever and received marks of distinction in the categories of content, interactivity, design and media.
Garrett agrees that writing exclusively for the smaller audience of about 1,700 students allows reporters to write more personal stories than a larger-scale paper would.
“If you’re looking at a local newspaper that’s focusing on bigger issues of the town, it might overlook issues at high school that still need to be revealed and discussed,” she said.
The Hub also is assuring that younger students get the opportunity to voice their views by creating a junior high school bureau of reporters in the upcoming school year.
“We have two new school editors (juniors Nathan Curtis and Nathan Woo) who are going to take volunteer ninth-graders and train them to write news briefs about junior high events and sports,” Wilkerson said.
The stories will appear on bluedevilhub.com and will give freshmen who are interested in journalism a chance to try it out before they can officially enroll in Journalism 1 for their sophomore year.
Curtis said that creating the junior high bureau is a way to “try to expand. We’re hoping that by introducing The Hub to them before they actually come to Davis High, our audience will grow twice as big as it was before.”
The number of views already has risen, increasing on average from 43 daily views in 2010 to 315 in 2014.
The Hub staff also is on the rise, with record-breaking enrollment of 43 students in The Hub class, and 55 in Journalism 1.
— Reach Zoe Juanitas at [email protected]