From the moment I stepped into a journalism class at Missouri State University, I was told the media landscape was changing and I better catch up before it was too late.
Talk about terrifying.
Well, as I just recently passed my two-year anniversary at The Standard, several changes have been made to catch up before it really is too late. So let me tell you a quick story.
When I joined The Standard, the sports department was the closest to the “digital first” model of today’s media. The staff wrote postgame stories and posted videos (shoutout to Larry Catt for sponsoring us for a few years) that went online immediately. Long-form stories went into our print edition once a week, but articles about the games were published as soon as possible.
And that was huge for a paper this size — The Standard has a small staff. All departments have a single section editor along with a handful of copy editors that may or may not be available when they’re needed.
That changed for the sports section about two and a half weeks ago.
The Standard’s editor-in-chief, Sarah Teague, reached out to me a few days before winter break was over saying she wanted to meet up and chat. I, of course, was racking my brain trying to figure out what I had done wrong — as any kid does when their parent says “We need to talk.”
It wasn’t bad, though. Sarah and our incredible adviser Jack Dimond had come up with a loose plan on moving the sports department to a “digital first” model. What that plan was, I still don’t really know. When I met with Sarah at Mudhouse on Jan. 11, I took off running with her loose guidelines and never looked back.
There was only one problem. We met on a Saturday and the first week of classes was set to start two days from then. We wanted to start the semester with a new plan rather than changing things midway, so we had less than 48 hours to solidify our plans and inform the sports staff about the changes.
I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work. A new handbook had to be written with guidelines, new expectations for each job title had to be set, new job titles had to be created to fit the model and a plan for schedules had to be created. Again, this all had to be done in less than two days.
But we did it.
The handbook, a schedule model, training manuals, job expectations — by Monday morning, everyone knew their role and seemed excited to jump in.
The original plan had me writing less to start the semester and working out the kinks of our new system. But, instead, Missouri State hired Bobby Petrino as the head coach. Senior sports reporter Claire Niebrugge and I punched out multiple stories throughout the week. In other words, the system wasn’t any different than it was in the past. When Dana Ford and Amaka “Mox” Aguga-Hamilton were hired, The Standard had reporters there to write about the new coaches. Like I said before, The Standard sports staff was closest to already being “digital first,” and the first week of the semester proved the staff was ready for it.
Now, as the new football hire settles into his new role, the entire sports department is settling into this new system. I have now taken that step back from writing — except for basketball game stories, of course — until we iron out details of what works and what doesn’t.
This is a big step in the right direction for our small all-student staff. At least one piece of content — whether it’s a postgame article, a podcast, a video — will be published on our website and social media everyday. Some days there may be more.
Our goal is to bring you the news and stories surrounding Missouri State as soon as possible.
Every Tuesday, the stories can still be seen in the paper with incredible photos by our staff photographers. This is just a different way of publishing so you, the reader, can get a chance to read about what’s still relevant.
Here’s just my last friendly reminder: Everyone that works at The Standard is a student reporter. Again: a STUDENT reporter. While we pride ourselves on being held to the standards of the professionals we often surround ourselves with, everyone is still learning. Please be kind and offer constructive criticism instead of beating down a bunch of 20-somethings.
Ah, well, my soapbox moment is over.
Follow the new “digital first” sports department on Twitter at @Standard_Sports and on Facebook at The Standard Sports. Let us know what you think of the daily work our staff creates and what you want to see more of. I’ll be around again before you know it. See you all soon.