SNO Report: Design Snapshots and Revision History

Our half man, half SNO Support machine Thomas had his shiny, new iPhone X delivered to the office last week. A means for parading it around the office like a championship trophy? Likely.

This got us thinking… Man, we all need new iPhones.

Kidding.

No, Thomas’ PDA for his new iPhone reminded us that people get excited about new toys. And guess what? We have one for you.

That right — we sneakily climbed down your chimney in the middle of the night last week and added it to the newest update of the FLEX theme. It doesn’t have facial recognition software, but it’s really, really cool.

Located under the Appearance options of your dashboard is the new Design Snapshots feature, which is where this story begins.

Now follow along. Let’s say you went to the page right now and clicked that humongous button labeled “Create New Design Snapshot.” That’ll capture what your site looks like — not in a JPEG screenshot kind of way; rather, more like creating a zip file that stores all of the settings you’ve used to create the masterpiece you’re looking at now.

You could then go changing your site around — reorganize the widgets, change their appearance styles, change fonts and backgrounds and more — maybe because you’re planning to do something different for homecoming week or around the weekend that your football team is in the state championship game. (Shoutout to our Minnesota state champs in Owatonna and Eden Prairie.) Then, when you’re done with that special edition look, you might as well snapshot it, too (maybe you’ll win state again — you never know), and then restore your site to the snapshot you created first and voila — you’re back to looking like the everyday site without the headache of having to redo it all.

… I know, right?

Design Snapshots store a copy of all widget configurations, whether on the homepage, a custom category page or mobile homepage, as well as any options on your SNO Design Options page. You can choose to restore only the Widget Control Panel settings, only the SNO Design Options, or both of them all at once. You can create as many snapshots as you’d like, tag them and star them to identify what each one is — your everyday design, a Homecoming week design, a graduation week design… just spitballing here.

But, and this is very important, Design Snapshots are not site backups. They will not restore content. So, if you delete stories, photos or categories, and need to get them back, you still need to contact us for help with that. We do maintain daily backups of your site.

Next, located on your SNO Design Options page is the Design Options Revision History tool, a good ole undo button in the simplest terms.

While the Design Snapshots will let you save and restore packages of options, the Design Options Revision History saves a step-by-step history of changes you make on the SNO Design Options page, and thus lets you take steps backward. Anytime you click “Save All Settings,” your site creates a new revision entry that you can tag and star to better identify steps.

Remember, the Design Options Revision History will only save and restore settings from the SNO Design Options Page, so not any widget configurations or navigation menu settings that have been edited elsewhere on your dashboard.

Just like when you first got your site, play around with the Design Snapshots and Design Options Revision History to get a feel for what’s happening, what it looks like. Come up with a strategy that’ll work best for you for labeling and starring snapshots and revision entries.

We think this’ll be a gamechanger.

Thomas’ iPhone is just kind of whatever.

The SNO Report: Students Covering St. Louis Protests

On the morning of Sept. 15, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder charges stemming from a 2011 high-speed chase that resulted in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Shades of the 2014 incident in Ferguson, Mo., which also was sparked by a white officer’s acquittal of the death of a black man, the Sept. 15 verdict got the St. Louis community’s blood boiling again — a feeling that penetrated school walls. Student journalists were there to cover what happened next.

These are their stories…

Nick Einig had every reason to be happy. He knew there was a school assembly scheduled the morning of Sept. 15, a Friday, and he knew it was going to be a rewarding one.

De Smet Jesuit High School had reached its fundraising goal, so the school would be granting its students an additional day off as a thank you.

That was the planned announcement. The students were excited for it. It was an “uplifting and happy kind of atmosphere,” Einig said.

Then, the school’s president stood up to speak and a hush came over the crowd. That wasn’t planned, but, behind the scenes, faculty and staff had been monitoring the trial for a while and sensed a verdict was coming down the pike that day. When it did, faculty and staff, like Kevin Berns, adviser to The Mirror, De Smet Jesuit’s student newspaper, took a “very serious” approach to the assembly, compared to the students.

“The whole issue of race relations in St. Louis and even in our school … there’s a growing need to understand a relate to all parts of our school population,” Berns said. “That gave the school an opportunity to take a step back and just talk. We weren’t judging. We weren’t coming to a conclusion. We were trying to be proactive and say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on. Let’s talk about it.’ ”

So, talk they did. The assembly broke out into smaller, grade-level groups for more personal conversations about what happened. Knowing the schedule of those meetings, Berns told Einig where he could possibly go and when.

Einig was reluctant to take the story assignment at first.

“I knew it had to be done, so I took it,” Einig said. “So I stepped into some of these meetings. The kids that were speaking, they talked about how their morning was and it seemed like it really affected them in a bad way. … said things like, ‘My parents were crying in the morning,’ or, ‘I considered not coming to school.’ ”

 From there, Einig pinpointed possible interviewees. He ran into some resistance on approach.
 
“To some students, I was told to screw off, ‘Why are you even doing this?’ and talking to teachers about this and told to go somewhere else,” Einig said.

Even with those who agreed to be interviewed, Einig sensed some uneasiness. It was clear, he said, people were treading lightly, trying to avoid saying something irresponsible.

Einig had the story published online later that same day, with the headline “Students react to verdict in Stockley trial.” And a reactionary story was exactly what his story became. He wanted to write a simple reaction story — here’s what happened, here’s what people are saying about it. It hit. Online, Einig said it had almost six times as many views as the staff’s average.

“It was a topic that people cared about,” Einig said.

Then, the staff talked about what to do next.

“Nick even said, ‘Should we go downtown? Should we get into the protests?’,” Berns said. “We know some other schools around town did. I was a little hesitant to throw guys into that. Some would argue that’s real life, a good experience to do. I didn’t feel like we had a clear enough reason from our school perspective to get involved. The protests were 30 minutes away from us. We didn’t have much connection.”

The feeling was different at Clayton High School.

There, The Globe staff was in a heat of a print deadline week, but reporter Noah Brown and photographer Michael Melinger wanted to go see what was happening downtown.

They drove to the epicenter after school and “walked around for 30 minutes around downtown, when the protests started,” Brown said.

“We get down there and we’re walking and walking,” Melinger said. “We finally walk up there and you’ve got cops on both sides, protests in the middle. It really escalated right from that point. We saw it when it was calm and then when it got out of hand.”

Although Melinger brought his camera along, there was no real plan to cover the protests. But after seeing what was going on, plans had to change.

“We had our issue sketched out and planned,” Brown said.

The Globe adviser Erin Castellano said, “We didn’t really exactly know what they’d come back with. At least photos we’d run in some capacity. I wasn’t sure what or who they’d be able to talk to and what kind of sources they’d get.”

Added Brown: “I went home like, ‘I have no clue how I’m going to write this.’ We did no formal interviews while I was down there — just observed what was going on.”

Noah followed up. He and Michael returned the next day to the Central West End neighborhood, where protests had reached the night before. They went to the mayor’s house, which had been vandalized, and then they started talking to local business owners and other people in the area.

“That’s when we knew there was a story to be told here,” Brown said. “We made space in the paper and published it late Saturday night.”

Brown was a freshman when senior reporters of The Globe staff covered the protests in Ferguson. He learned from watching them do it, and this became his Ferguson.

“These are stories that we can tell,” Brown said. “We talked to Clayton students that were very involved in the protests and even got arrested on one of the nights. This stuff can hit closer to home than we realize.”

The protests in Ferguson, in 2014, became a big part of the reporting done by Richard Pfeifer for The Kirkwood Call at Kirkwood High School.

Pfeifer got a CNN alert on his phone during his second-hour class, which said what the verdict was. No more than a minute later, Pfeifer texted his editors, asking to do the reaction story.

“I remember the rest of that period, I was restless,” Pfeifer said. “I started typing up a brief for it. I didn’t go to my third-hour (class).”

Checking his Instagram that night, Pfeifer saw something going around that called for a student walkout, much like one from 2014.

Pfeifer, who is in his first year on staff, talked to the classmates he knew were leading the walkout and the school’s principal to get his reaction to the students’ plan. On Sept. 18, his story went up online.

“The editors were super involved with trying to coach me how to cover a big thing like this,” Pfeifer said. “This was my first really big, big thing.”

Click to read the students’ stories below:

The SNO Report: Everyone likes an interactive story

Nothing in print is clickable like it can be online. Take your coolest infographic and enhance it online. Make it clickable — interactive.

These are some programs that make it possible:

Infogr.am makes it easy for you to create infographics. (Infogram. Infographics. See the resemblance?) You can create slick, modern visualizations of information using graphs, charts and more. And Infogram makes it easy with user-friendly menus, real-time data presentation and social media integration.

To add an Infogram to your site, paste the embed code, provided after you’ve created it, into a story, page or widget. The easiest way to do it in a story or page is to paste that code from Infogram into either the Video Embed Code area or as a Infographic SNO Story Element. You could also paste the embed code into the body of the story using the Text tab in the upper right corner of your body text box (not the Visual tab).

There’s a WordPress plugin for it here. Check out Infogr.am’s help page for further assistance.

ThingLink is one of the leading platforms for creating interactive images, maps and videos. Users can create multiple “hot spots” on specific parts of an image where you can embed video, audio, links and text, giving your reader an interactive experience.

Take the example from EHS-hub. They took a simple US map and applied hot spots to display where seniors planned to attend college.

To add a ThingLink to your site, paste the embed code, provided after you’ve created it, into a story, page or widget — no different than an Infogram.

There’s a WordPress plugin for it here. Check out ThingLink’s help page for more support.

PlayBuzz allows you to create content in the shape of lists, quizzes, polls, rankings and trivia. It’s what you’re spending so much time on BuzzFeed doing, and it can be a fun way to spice up your everyday lists and polls — just be sure to turn off the “related content” feature to make sure things stay on-topic and appropriate.

Take the example from The Leaf at Sycamore High School in Ohio. They set up a quiz to have readers guess which of their teachers is which in old photos.

You’ll also be given an embed code once you’ve created something on PlayBuzz. Paste that as you did with Infogr.am and ThingLink to display on your site.

There’s a plugin for it here. Find some helpful info from PlayBuzz here.

It’s important to note, too, that these things working correctly on your site is not dependant on you downloading the plugin.

Storify is a social networking service that lets you create stories or timelines that integrate posts from social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So, these stories would be social media-driven. It can be embedded on your site the same as all the above.

It has a WordPress plugin here. Learn more about the program here.

So, these are four of the big ones. If you’re using something else to create cool, interactive content, tell us about it — share your tips with the SNO community here.

The SNO Report: Going in-depth on graduation gowns, private schools, startups and more: last month on Best of SNO

October was a loaded month for Best of SNO. While the other kids at school were out trick-or-treating, student journalists were going deep on interesting topics. The investigative team at Simpson College looked into the enrollment challenges of private schools. A change in graduation traditions caused a stir, original thinkers started projects of their own, and our Assignment Desk topic, Protests in Sports, yielded interesting returns. These are some of the best stories of October, written and submitted by students just like yours:

Go big or go home: Private colleges fight waning enrollment, Jetstream Staff, Simpson College
“The competition is stiff, and we’re all competing for a shrinking slice of the pie.”

Cam High to change more than 50 years of tradition with graduation gownsChloe Schicker, Adolfo Camarillo High School
“It is not about gender equality as much as it is about being respectful to everybody’s choice to select a gender or not select a gender, and we have students who choose not to.”

Senior creates community service projectEliza Benyaminova, Mayfield High School
“Haircuts for Care provides women and children in shelters with a way to feel confident and empowered.”

Let’s talk business: Student starts fashion companyNeelansh Bute, Marquette High School
“He created his fashion apparel company, Maestro, in October 2016, in the comfort of his own home, while sick with the flu.”

Standing up — or sitting or kneeling — for what’s rightStaff Reports, Watertown High School
“They are standing up for the right that people have died for, but as long as they don’t turn their back, I have no issue with it.”

Read more great stories like these on the Best of SNO high school and collegeeditions.

Assignment Desk: Everyone’s writing articles, and Best of SNO’s here to recognize the good ones. But this year, we want to see who’s doing more than that and still doing great work. Consider this our first push.

This month’s topic: Multimedia. Send us your best video stories and photo galleries, all of which should align with our requirements for the SNO Distinguished Sites Multimedia Badge. (That’s our primary requirement). These should be interesting. Videos shouldn’t be news broadcasts or two minutes of raw footage spliced together. They should be interview based… multiple camera angles… B-roll… you know the drill. Photos shouldn’t be blurry or pixelated, they should have captions and credits. Also, don’t send us any gallery larger than 15 photos.

We know these will be different to submit than a story. For videos, there’s your usual area for the embed code. For galleries, paste your link in the Body Text space. For both, attach a Featured Image and give it a headline and byline.

Any submission without all these elements, will not be considered.

And, as always, categorize it as Assignment Desk in the dropdown menu of the form.

Good luck!

SNO Report: Mark your calendars! SNO Distinguished Sites season is coming

So you’ve had a couple months now to get reacquainted to your online publication.

Your new staffers are trained. You’ve got recent stories up, new photo galleries displayed. You’ve submitted to Best of SNO. You’ve made a few design upgrades. You’ve read every SNO Report and incorporated each lesson into your day-to-day operations.

You’ve played in a big pile of leaves. You went to the Homecoming dance and didn’t spill anything on your dress. Your fantasy football team was a bust. (Dude, mine, too.)

But your website doesn’t have to be! Coming Monday, Nov. 6, we’re reopening our SNO Distinguished Sites awards program.

We recognized 28 student publications as Distinguished Sites (the granddaddy of them all) last year and awarded 90 sites and total of 268 badges. Don’t miss out on getting your piece of the pie this time. Once it’s open, you can apply for any of six badges as many times as it takes until you get our stamp of approval. Earn all six, and you’re a SNO Distinguished Site.

Here’s a rundown of what those six badges are:

Continuous Coverage: We want to see you doing frequent and sustained reporting — crucial to being a valuable online resource for your readers. So we’re looking at how you develop a story over time, what you do to follow up a story, and how quickly you post updates following an event (hint: within two days).

Story Page Excellence: Combing over our recent SNO Reports will help you out here, but essentially we’re looking for story pages that aren’t messy or error-ridden, that use SNO Story Elements and use our different story templates appropriately.

Excellence in Writing: Some of you eager beavers have already earned this little guy. If you’ve submitted to Best of SNO this year and been published three or more times, you’re in.

Multimedia: It’s no help to have well-written articles with this one. Nope. We’re looking at your videos and photo slideshows, and judging how well done they are based on length, quality, interest level and other such things.

Audience Engagement: For this, we’re measuring how popular your site is and judging your social media footprint. The two aren’t unrelated.

Site Excellence: How’s your homepage looking? You must have customized your site beyond the preset design you got in the beginning (no matter how long ago or recent that was), and that customization should look good. There’s a 23-step guide that breaks down exactly what we’re looking at for you to earn this badge.

For more in-depth explanations of the requirements, and to start applying on Nov. 6, see the Distinguished Sites page of your website.

Good luck!

The SNO Report: How to credit borrowed photos

Get your staff in the habit of captioning and crediting all photos on your site. There, we said it. Now, let’s look closely at photo credits — why they matter and how to do it.

Chances are, the photos you’re using come from one of three sources: a member of your staff, a submission, or an Internet search. Obviously, you want to attribute that great photo to the staff member who captured it. Duh. But you also must give credit where it’s due for the images you’re borrowing, whether that means getting explicit permission to use a photo that’s been submitted or only using other images that are licensed for Fair Use.

Saving images from Google searches or other websites and republishing them with your content is illegal and can result in your publication being liable for compensatory damages to the copyright holder. That’s money out of your pocket potentially. That’s why it’s important only to use images, audio and video you’ve been granted permission to use or were acquired through a licensing fee or Creative Commons.

For those photos, the ones not taken by members of your staff, it isn’t enough just to credit where on the web the images was taken from. Your staff needs to secure permission from the person or organization that originally took the photo.

The only exception is when using photos for reviews, like for movies and music. Under copyright law, this is considered Fair Use, and you can safely credit the movie studio or record label for the image. Stories about the NFL or NBC’s “The Good Place” would also qualify under Fair Use. We recommend credit related images for the organization that originally created them — in this case, the NFL or NBC.

To use a photo from another news outlet, you need to obtain expressed permission from that news outlet, and then label the photos as “Photo by ___ from ___ used with permission.”

The thing is, many news outlets won’t give permission for you to republish their photos. So, we recommend searching for photos that have been licensed for that specific purpose under the Creative Commons. Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org) is a large database of free and legal photos that you can republish. When republishing an image from the site, we recommend labeling it as “Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.”

You can also do specific searches on Google to target photos ready for republishing. In the Search Tools option, select “Labeled for Reuse.” When using a photo from this search, we recommend labeling it as “Photo via ____ under Creative Commons license.”

If a photo is copyrighted by another photographer, but you have secured permission to use it — like the aforementioned submission — label it as “Photo used with permission from ___.”

Always exercise caution when taking photos from sources outside of your own staff and remember to credit it appropriately.

SNO Adviser Profile: John Vitti

John Vitti was only trying to help his then-elementary school-aged daughter with her essay. Write about your favorite day, the assignment demanded.

“A person of any age wants to be correct,” Vitti said. “The hard part about writing is there’s 85 different versions of correct.

“She didn’t know what to put in. You need some description, a lead, who, what, where, when. I realized I was talking about journalism. You’ve gotta come with a big bag of information and you have to cherry pick what you’re going to use. That’s hard.”

But it may not be so hard if she, or anyone else, had more practice at it, Vitti thought.

So, he approached the administration at Cunniff Elementary School, in Watertown, Mass., about starting a newspaper for the students, pre-K through fifth grade, in December 2007. Out of it came Cunniff Kids News, a platform for anyone interested in any topic to practice writing with a purpose. Their skill level didn’t matter. It would better prepare them for the future.

“If a kid wrote more, and then had their book report, college application, you don’t have to like it but you can lump it out and muscle through it,” Vitti said. “If we’re on a boat and all fall overboard in a lake, I don’t need you to be Michael Phelps, but I need you to be able to swim to shore. The more you do it, the better you are at it.

“If we had a paper, then that gives a kid a reason to write, an audience, a deadline, a format.”

Eleven years later, Vitti’s advising three separate student newspapers in the Boston area — Cunniff Kids News, Watertown Splash (Watertown Middle School), The Raider Times (Watertown High School) — the last of which, at the high school, he took over five years ago. He oversees about 275 kids pre-K through 12th grade.

He also recently earned his teaching certification, allowing him to teach a real journalism class daily at the high school, whereas his other two programs are extra-curriculars.

Plus, he continues to work as a copy editor and page designer at the Boston Globe, where he’s worked since 1999.

What he’s learned, especially with his youngest students, is that having a newspaper to write for has been big educationally.

“You have kids of all ages who can learn about things they’re interested in, with a real reason to,” Vitti said. “In a history class, you’re gonna learn about 1776, the Civil War, whatever, but you won’t have a reason to meet Hillary Clinton or the lady running for city council.

“You can if you’re in newspaper. You can write about food, movies, fashion, dress code, Black Lives Matter, whatever you want to write about.”

And having those newspapers online unlocks an even broader range of topics to write about because the audience could be so much larger.

“If I have a third-grader who really likes dogs, well, heck yeah, let’s do a poll on who’s got what pet, let’s do a story about the vet around the corner with an animal shelter, let’s do a story on Puppy Bowl,” Vitti said.

It’s teaching them, Vitti said, how to talk to people, how to present themselves, the value of different types of questions, of being nice, of spelling names correctly. It’s teaching them skills in editing, photography, design, writing and websites.

That seemed like all the right reasons to get into it in the first place.

“Because I could,” Vitti said, “and because it seemed ridiculously worthwhile.”

SNO Report: Selling your own ads

Your site is fully equipped to feature advertisements, a revenue stream that could help you pay your site’s annual bill and more, but you need to find the businesses willing to buy the real estate and you don’t know how or where to get started. We’re here to help, thank goodness.

Here are a few tips we think will help kickstart your ad selling venture…

1. Make it someone’s job
Delegate the responsibilities to one person, who you could call your Business Manager. It can be their sole focus to create your strategy (specifically, come up with advertising rates and a “rate card” for potential advertisers) and to sell, sell, sell.

P.S. Make them read this email.

2. Create a rate card

This is a sheet you can hand to a business owner that outlines your prices (different prices for different sizes), and a form for them to fill out. It’s all the information they need and you need. It’s a bonus to be able to present them with a breakdown of where the ad spots are available to go on your site. Create that as part of your card. Here’s an example.

Your site should also have this rate card available, so create an Advertising page.

3. Figure out appealing prices

It may take some trial and error for you to figure out what you should be charging for an ad. You want to charge what business owners are willing to pay, and we don’t know what that magic number is. But you gotta start somewhere! Approach people with a $50 per month, per spot rate and see which emoji they make with their face.

4. Be ready with deals to offer

Be flexible with these local business owners of yours. Offer them discounts for extended runs. Buying the spot for a month? For the whole year? Discount.

Tie the sale in with your print edition, too. Offer them a bundle price that gives them an ad spot online and in print.

If you’re operating with our Ad Manager add-on, you could offer them an exclusive spot, instead of being part of the rotation.

5. Approach the right people at the right time

You’re not selling an ad to Apple or Prada. Stay local. Small business owners. Parents. People who want to reach your audience and who your audience wants to know about.

And approach them at the perfect time. Homecoming or Prom coming up? Reach out to local tuxedo and dress renters and photography companies. Is it exam season? Contact tutoring services. Your football team’s in the playoffs? Who wants to buy a “Good Luck” ad?

6. Offer a few perks or add-ons

A small locally-owned business may not know how to design their own ad. Offer your design talents. Whatever you do, don’t just scan a flyer or business card.

You’re better than that.

Separately, maybe you could offer to push their product or business on social media. Like, for an extra $5 we’ll tweet a promotional ad about you (i.e. “Thank your for sponsoring our site, insert local business here!”).

7. Know your audience

Use Google Analytics to educate yourselves about the demographics of your audience. A local business will think students are the only readers of your website. That’s not always true. Tell them that! You may also be getting parents, alums, or who knows who else.

Be prepared to tell the business owner who they’ll be able to reach, as well as how many views their ad is likely to get. If their ad is appearing in your Ad Manager, you’ll be able to track how many times their ad was clicked, or you’ll be able to estimate ahead of time based on past experiences with other businesses.

8. Bring them value back

You need to have something to sell them on. Those Google Analytics can help, but your site should also be pretty convincing.

Post something daily, or as often as you possibly can.

Have a site that looks good, one they’d want their ad posted on.

We also have the SNO Ad Marketplace, which is you handing the job off to us. With it, your site is added to a list where advertisers can go find you and click to buy ad space. You don’t have to do anything. When they buy, we’ll review their ad and either reject it or approve it to show up live on your site. You can always ask us about one we approved if you don’t like it. You’ll generate some profit from this service, too, if ads are being bought — 65 percent of the purchase goes back to you.

If you still need help or if you have ideas of your own, share them with the SNO community.

SNO Report: Advanced story pages in action

We know you’re spending a bunch of time thinking about how your homepage looks. We get it. It’s your front page. You want to pull it up and be proud of it. You also want your readers to like it enough to come back, to spend some free time perusing.

But the real challenge in becoming an exceptionally designed news site is in how you take care of your story pages — not only the words on the page, but what’s around those words. That’s why we give you options with Story Page Templates — the Non-Home Sidebar, Full Width and Side Rails versions of which you’re probably pretty familiar. (Either the Sidebar or Full Width layout can be set as your default in SNO Design Options.)

If you want to look real good — like, going-to-Senior-Prom good — you’ll use the advanced layouts on occasion (i.e. when applicable for a type or length of story).

We’re talking about the Side-by-Side, Grid and Long Form templates, which can be selected in the same area of your Edit Story screen you select the other template options.

These take a little more work to build.

You need to plan for them, which is why we have Online and Web Editors on our staffs.

Then, you need to execute it, and that can be confusing without practice. It involves creating a Container Story, which is what’s going to show up on your site, and then attaching separate Chapter “stories” to it and leaving those Chapters “Uncategorized.” There’s great information about templates here, and even more helpful guides about building them herehere and, oh yeah, here. Go slow your first few times through it.

It helps to see them in action, too, to understand when to use them. So, here you go…

Side-by-Side
by Peninsula Outlook, Peninsula HIgh School

Ideas for using this template should come pretty easy. All you’re doing is presenting naturally paired content side by side, like the Peninsula Outlook has done to showcase reviews of The Martian — the book, then the movie. Another clear use for this: Pro/Con columns or any kind of opposing viewpoints.

Here, the Peninsula Outlook built a Container Story featuring only a Featured Image and main headline. It gets you right into the two reviews, each a Chapter Story featuring a photo and several pull quotes. They also ensured the two stories were similar in length to create a nice, balanced page — strive to do that as well.

Grid
by Clark Chronicle, Clark Magnet High School

The way to do a “Humans of Clark” series (but your school’s version) is split, it seems. Some publish stories within a category for it. Others do what the Clark Chronicle did here. And it makes good use of the Grid template!

All they did was create a Container Story — in this case, it’s only the headline — and then continually add Chapter Stories (or “Humans”) to it throughout the year. With nice feature images of each person and your black background Color Overrides on, you get a pretty slick photo grid to show off your series.

These grids are packages, collecting similar stories. They’re not photo galleries. Each photo on the grid links to a live story. So, use it for a “Best of” showcase at the end of the year, package together all your Homecoming content into one space. You could also do something like this other school did.

Long Form
by Pathfinder, Parkway West High School

This is one, big, in-depth story — or, in Pathfinder’s case, a kind of running reporter journal that turns into a good feature piece.

As a running journal, they attached further Chapter stories to their Container (the top and first part of the article) consistently. They incorporate tons of graphics to really make this piece stand out, including the top Immersive Image and several other photos.

If you have a multi-part feature story (maybe one with several subheads or chapters within the story), this template is for you. Some use only the Container, just to get the Immersive Image feature. You can, too, but that won’t get you points when you’re applying for the SNO Distinguished Sites Story Page Excellence Badge later this year.

Using all three of these templates appropriately is required for you to earn that Story Page Excellence Badge. That’s right — you can earn a badge for knowing and using this stuff. That’ll just get you one step closer to becoming a SNO Distinguished Site.

Do you have your own great examples of the SNO story page templates in action? Share them here.

And now, one last thing…

Are you attending any fall journalism conferences over the next couple months? We are, too. We’ll be teaching and mingling. Here’s where you could find us:

  • October 10: MHSPA, Minnesota

  • October 13: KEMPA, Wisconsin

  • October 19: CSMA J Day, Colorado

  • October 25-27: ACP/CMA, Dallas, Texas

  • October 26: IHSPA, Iowa

  • November 15-18: NSPA/JEA, Dallas, Texas

The SNO Report: Get creative with your staff page

Functionally, staff pages, and the profiles they’re made of, just make sense. Who wouldn’t want a nice, tidy individual profile collecting all of his or her own published work in one place? What a benefit, right? (Mom and dad nodding; college journos applying for jobs aggressively nodding.)

Stylistically, well, staff pages can turn into impressive design elements, and all it takes is a few minutes of focused tinkering.

Within the Staff Page settings on your SNO Design Options page, set a style (Preview Tiles, Photo Blocks, or List View) and take off from there. Also remember, how you build each staff profile matters, too — get started by adding new ones or editing existing ones from the Staff Profiles link on the left-hand side of the WordPress dashboard.

Set a professional tone with short, straightforward bios and studio-quality headshots.

The staff of The Mirror at De Smet Jesuit High School, St. Louis, achieved a sharp look from the Preview Tiles setting with formal headshots set against the same background while cutting bios altogether. Customizing it beyond the standard options, they changed all backgrounds to white. Shiny and new.

Using the Photo Blocks option to create a grid, The Rider Online at Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas, created an excellent design out of repetition. They account for their large staff by setting up the grid as five columns of photos per row, as not to create a staff page that’s oversized. Anyone can do this (customized T-shirts, not included). Depending on your staff size, you may feature photos in 1 to 6 columns across a single row.

Show your staff’s personality by thinking outside the box.

Staffs of The Smoke Signal and the Knight Errant picked fun themes with their staff profiles — and in grayscale, no less.

The Smoke Signal at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, N.J., using the Preview Tiles setting, put every staff member behind bars last year for their mugshots, paying attention to every detail — black and white photos against the same well-known background with each person holding a sign identifying who they are. But the best part is the staff bios, modeled to continue their theme.

The staff of the Knight Errant at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park, Minn., dove into a wizarding theme, utilizing props to bring some color to their black and white photos within the Photo Blocks layout.

Both in layout and theme, the possibilities are endless for your staff.

Each staff profile should have a photo of the student. One those are taken, you can set the page layout options. How many photos do you want in a single row? (The fewer columns, the larger the photos.) Which photo orientation do you want to work with? (Horizontal? Or, new to the settings, vertical?) What about margins between those photos? Background colors? And, of course, which style? (Photo Blocks, Preview Tiles, or List?)

Put your thinking caps on and don’t be afraid to have some fun with it.