The SNO Report: Developing a News Digest

The earliest news digests were cave paintings. Newspapers? Humongous news digests. Post Reports, the Washington Post podcast, is an audible news digest for your morning commute. NextDraft, from Dave Pell, is a news digest landing in your email every afternoon. Fresh Powder, from us? The best news digest. The magazine your city sends you four times a year… you’re really going to make us say it?

News digests come in all shapes and sizes but are the same at their core. They roundup the news and make it more easily digestible.

Some are interview-based, others are all business. One adds a level of quirky commentary that can’t be found anywhere else, others aren’t written by us.

Do you have one?

Before you answer that, ask yourself, “How can we say we’re curating our news for a generation of readers with shorter attention spans and higher click rates than ever before, if we don’t?”

Here are five examples of news digests you can copy (three written, one emailed, the other spoken):

Wayland Student Press Network

In case you miss them, news editor Meredith Prince summarizes the top stories of each week, but makes sure the readers get a small taste of everything. That’s why the blurbs are organized neatly into News, Sports, Features, A&E and Multimedia sections. As is the core function of a publication’s news digest, she takes the whole website and shrinks it. A skilled, concise writer, Meredith leads readers into stories with her reporters as the subjects of her writing, incorporating clean hyperlinks and, at times, more than one plug within a single paragraph.

The Daily Eastern News

Written by editor-in-chief JJ Bullock, here’s a news digest that wastes no ink. It’s five things. It’s everyday. It’s just the news; by that I mean it’s just the facts. What did they do? When is the event? What was the score? Where’s the link to the story? Therein lies one of the luxuries of the college paper: Each nugget is tied to a story the DEN published.

The Poynter Report

Delivering a digestible summation of the news is a challenge. Adding commentary and perspective that expands upon that news is quite another. But when you’re doing it daily and for as long as Tom Jones has been, you’re going to develop a unique voice and deep knowledge of history that enables you to accomplish both.

The Rider Online

Fittingly titled “The Round Up,” this almost-weekly podcast threads together the top local news in a flash. No episode is longer than five minutes — few are longer than four — but there’s so much packed into them. Each episode is well-written and confidently narrated, in that nothing feels rushed through, and the added external soundbites from interviews are a perfect bonus. By The Rider Online, this an excellent, succinct example of a news briefing to play while you wait for your morning coffee to finish brewing.

The Booster Redux

If you want to retain your readers, don’t count on them coming back to your website unprompted. Don’t even count on them spotting your one tweet in their sea of a thousand others. Meet them in their inbox. The Booster Redux’s email is eye-catching yet easy, combining excellent art, bold headlines and bolder click-through buttons. Click, click.

The SNO Report: SNO Distinguished Sites update

Although it’s only mid-February, the deadline to apply for our six SNO Distinguished Sites badges is quickly approaching. So, before your spring calendar becomes consumed with end-of-the-year exams, celebrations, and other obligations, it’s wise to have a plan in place if you’re vying to reach “Distinguished” status.

To help you out, we’re answering your FAQs and compiling all of the essential information you’ll want to keep in mind over the coming weeks so you can proudly display that SNO Distinguished Site emblem on your website and the plaque in your classroom for the world to see.

Wait, what is the SNO Distinguished Sites recognition program again?

The SNO Distinguished Sites recognition program gives news staffs six standards to help their publications excel online. As each standard is met, that site is awarded a badge on the SNO client list. If a site earns all six badges, it is awarded the honor of being named a SNO Distinguished Site. Plus, it’s free to participate for all SNO customers of any level.

Why should we participate? What’s in it for us?

At SNO, we want to do all that we can to help you succeed online. The six badges we created as part of the program, formed around journalistic best practices, are meant to do just that.

Whether your website is brand new this year or has been around for a while, we invite you to apply for those badges that highlight your site’s strengths, while working to achieve the others. Complacency can be a curse, so our badges can help re-focus and motivate your staff as well.

If your staff is more motivated by tangible incentives, SNO Distinguished Site recipients also receive a press release, letter to the principal or PR department and a plaque to honor their achievements.

How much longer do I have to apply for the badges?

The application period for 2019-20 closes on April 30. There is no limit to the number of times that a site can apply for an individual badge before the deadline. So far, 200 sites have received at least one badge, and 20 schools have achieved Distinguished Site status.

How can I apply for a badge?

Thanks to the work of our savvy developers, it’s now easier than ever to apply for a badge, to track the badges you’ve earned, and to see which areas you’re still working towards.

Simply login to your website and look for the SNO Badges section in your SNO Dashboard. Click on the badge you wish to apply for, review the guidelines, fill out the required fields, hit “Submit,” and voilá, you’re up and running!

Make sure to periodically check back in on your submissions as well so you don’t miss notifications from our awards coordinator.

What badge requirements are tripping people up so far?

Out of the six badges you can earn, the three that we’ve seen staffs commonly struggling with this year are for Story Page Excellence, Excellence in Writing, and Multimedia. Here are some helpful tips for each one.

Story Page Excellence: Although you can click the “Long Form Container” button and create a simple long-form story, technically that’s not how that template was intended to be used. In other words, we want to see that you know how to attach chapter stories to it and really maximize its potential. The same goes for the Side by Side and Grid templates —  they’re nothing without their corresponding chapter stories.

Here are some resources on how to construct each of those templates on your website, as well as ideas on how to utilize them to get started.

Excellence in Writing: The only way to earn this badge is to have at least three stories published on Best of SNO. However, it’s not quite as easy as it might seem. So far this year, we’ve reviewed close to 12,500 stories and have published about 15 percent of them (about 2,000 total). Suffice to say, the writing needs to be top-notch.

Check out our publication tips to improve your chances of getting published, and our past Best of SNO newsletters to get a better idea of the types of content our reviewers are looking for.

Multimedia: Without a doubt, the Multimedia badge has been the most challenging one for staffs to earn because, to be honest, we’re picky about the submissions. Sure, anyone can record or take photos of an event and upload it online, but we want a bit more refinement.

We’re looking for slideshows that display visual variation and have substantive captions. We want to see videos that contain at least two interviews and are more than just raw footage. We want to hear interview-based podcasts that avoid copyrighted music and contain a formal intro and outro. (Pro tip: the multimedia category on Best of SNO is a good place to gauge if your content fits the bill.)

Now what?

Time to get going! Last year, there were 49 Distinguished Sites total. This year we want to top that. And as always, if you have any questions or issues, don’t hesitate to let us know.

The SNO Report: What are the rules for using photos you find online?

The Super Bowl just ended. Your staff is writing a little story about it and want a photo. Knowing what they’ve been taught about copyright laws, your staff is cautious. What can they do?

For a photo from Sunday’s big game, the options are extremely limited.

— If you subscribe to a wire service (AP, Getty, Reuters, USA Today), you’re probably set. But those services are seriously expensive.

— Getty Images offers free access to its entire library via embeds, which is nice but isn’t as perfect as it sounds. This allows you to embed a photo into the text of your article, but that’s not a Featured Image and you have no control over the size that photo displays at in the story.

— Email is a long shot but if you’re a local school in Kansas City or the Bay Area reaching out to a local photographer employed by the local paper, it’s worth a shot.

— A Google search for images from the game (images specifically labeled for reuse) will turn up only a few images of a football field from this decade, and none of this year’s game.

The point is, it’s hard to get your hands on those photos. But that’s not the case for everything.

Chances are, the photos you’re using come from one of three sources: a member of your staff, a submission, or an internet search. Let’s focus on that last one: the internet. What are the rules for using photos you find online?

Saving images from Google searches or other websites and republishing them on your website is illegal. Potentially, your publication would be liable to pay compensatory damages to the copyright holder; in fact, there are companies with the sole mission of finding these illegal uses and threatening lawsuits. You don’t want that. Just because you see a photo in a Google image search doesn’t mean it’s the world’s to use, so don’t tempt yourself.

Specify rules for your Google image search so that the only images it turns up are ones you can use. From the image search results page, click on “Tools,” then “Usage Rights,” then “Labeled for Reuse.” These are the photos you’re allowed to use.

If those searches don’t give you enough options, we’d suggest visiting the Creative Commons or Wikipedia Commons, both large databases of free and legal photos you can republish.

One big exception to these rules is photos for reviews of movies, music or TV. Under copyright law, these on-screen stills and promotional posters are free to use. Websites for those movies, musicians and TV shows may also have press kits — images from those are also free.

No matter what, writing a photo credit for each one you’re putting on your site is the next step. You still need to identify your source. So, if it’s a musician’s album cover, credit the record label. Be clear that you’re using it with permission from the local photographer or the Commons.

Exercise caution during your image searches. Take the appropriate steps to avoid legal trouble. If you don’t know, ask, but always credit where credit is due.

The SNO Report: What’s new in Student News Source app?

The Student News Source app is a kind of hub for student journalism, through which users can follow and read the news from their school’s student newspaper — or any student news site they choose. Combined, there are 188 student publications on the Student and College News Source apps, which have been downloaded nearly 10,000 times.

Since their unveiling last summer, we’ve made all kinds of improvements to the apps — many based on your feedback. When’s the last time you checked to make sure your app was up to date? Here’s a list of the most recent updates we’ve made:

  • You can now add pages — not only categories — to your mobile app menu, so long as the page (i.e. “About Us” or “Contact Us”) was created using the “Default” page template. Photos for that page will only show if they’re embedded within the text.

  • Users can subscribe to specific writers directly within the story page. They can view their subscriptions and unsubscribe from the Settings page.

  • Commenting on a story will now reflect however you set it up on the website. So, if you’ve turned comments off for a story online, all commenting icons and functions for that story in the app will not display.

  • If you’re paying for the Sports Center add-on, it is now available to use in the app and will show up as a menu option for users automatically. If for some reason you don’t want those features to show in the app, you can turn the option off in the mobile app settings area of your website’s dashboard. (Buy “Sports Center” as part of the Site Booster Bundle directly from your site’s dashboard.)

  • Story notifications will now be sent out even when publishing from the FLOW platform.

  • Custom menu icons can now be displayed in the menu on the app.

For further personalization of your app, here are a few tips for features that, while not necessarily new, you may have forgotten about:

  • Set your Splash Screen Image, which shows up when a user clicks on your school and shows any time that user opens the app in the future.

  • Set a Custom Header Image for the app. This will show when a user opens the menu bar for your publication; otherwise, it just shows text.

  • Set a Custom Mini Logo that shows up on the top part of the screen in the app.

We value your feedback. It’s your feedback that has helped us make many of these improvements, and there are a few things we’re still working on. Here’s a little preview of what’s coming to the apps:

  • Revamped analytics for story views and opened push notifications in the app

  • Ability to customize your app’s home screen and change the layout of the story lists with different thumbnail photo sizes

  • Ability to preset which tab opens up as the home screen. A user could choose to see “Recent” stories first, rather than a default category.

Don’t have the app but want it? Get the process going here.

The SNO Report: Great examples of Advanced Story Page Templates

Whether you’re trying to earn the Story Page Excellence badge or simply looking for new ways to showcase stories on your site, going beyond the standard story page template is the way.

We’re, of course, talking about the Grid, Long-Form and Side-by-Side templates. Here are some cool ways other student newspapers are utilizing them:

Grids

Grids are best used to package together several stories from the same series, topic or idea.

From Pathfinder at Parkway West High School

The best part of this example, at least as it relates to this email, is that it’s achievable. Most student publications, let’s hope, have cameras. Most student journalists, let’s be honest, have pretty nice cell phones. It’s all you need.

“2019: A year in pictures” is also a great example of a grid template that can start with nothing more than the shell (also called “Container”) and grow continuously from there. The Pathfinder staff would’ve started by publishing a new story (template: Grid Container) with this title, deck headline and byline. Then, they would create another new story (template: Grid Chapter) titled “Photo of the Week – Jan. 7,” added their photo as the Featured Image, included a nice caption and tied it to the “Year in pictures” container story. Lather, rinse, repeat.

For what it’s worth, this is my favorite of the photos so far. This is how I imagine myself, even though this is how I am in real life.

Side-by-Sides

Side-by-Sides are best used when putting two stories that go together, well, side by side.

From Echo at St. Louis Park High School

People have opinions and when those opinions are competing over the same issue, the Side-by-Side template is the right stage to hear them out.

The magic number is two, no matter what type of content you’re trying to put into a Side-by-Side layout — two stories (template: Side-by-Side Chapter), attached by a Side-by-Side Container.

What’s so good about this one is the simplicity of the container, including a sort of stage-setter in the deck headline space, and the stories are similar in length. You don’t need to be too crazy with these. That both sides to the argument are easy for readers to find is effective enough.

Long-Forms

Long-Forms are best when they’re one, in-depth story, separated into parts.

From West Side Story at Iowa City West High School

When you have a big story like this one that warrants special treatment online — in this case, because it was the cover story in print — the long-form template is a great option.

But you don’t just pull a perfect long-form out of a hat. First, you need a great story. (Check.) From that, ask: “Is it easy to section off?” (Here, it is. There’s a soft opening, followed by sections each solely devoted to one of three women’s stories, ending with a look-to-the-future closing.) Then, consider what extra elements you have to incorporate into the page. Your story’s really long, so you need some good art to go with it. (Here, WSS has good photos and super-creative graphic illustrations for section titles and quotes. Nice.)

Finally, do you have the discipline to sit down and piece it together? A messy long-form story might as well have never been attempted. The students at West Side Story took the time. Voila.

The SNO Report: Introducing the new SNO Dashboard

Over the holiday break, we rolled out a new and improved landing page to replace the SNO Launch Pad. The SNO Dashboard is now where you’re taken after logging into your website.

In case you haven’t explored it much yet, we have to say: It’s pretty cool.

We built the SNO Dashboard as a hub for advisers, one place, living right on the website you work on every day (or every whenever), to find all the information that matters.

We’ve made it easy to edit all of your contact information, book training sessions you’ve purchased, view at a glance the add-on subscriptions you’re paying for (and the ones you’re not), track your staff’s progress on SNO Distinguished Sites badges, and contact us for help via live chat, support tickets and our phone number.

Sure, you’ve been able to track badges and submit support tickets to us through your website for a while — and the usual paths for doing those are still built in — but now you have even more direct access to them with everything in one place.

Plus, we’re making progress on integrating Billing into it.

Eventually, you’ll be able to view your account’s entire billing history, see and be notified when you have a payment due, and here’s the big fish: You’ll be able to go to that bill and pay it.

The SNO Dashboard, like many other parts of the backend of your site, comes preset with certain allowances for users. Billing, as a whole, and contact information changes, for example, are only accessible to site Administrators.

Your students can click on a badge from the dashboard and apply for it. They can read our recent email newsletters. If they’d like, they can even subscribe to our newsletters (The SNO Report, Fresh Powder and the Best of SNO digest) by entering their information in the Email Preferences section of the dashboard.

We’re always trying to simplify adviser life for you, don’t you see? We hope this helps.

Picky eater, ‘Walking Dynamite,’ tall girls and more: the last two weeks on Best of SNO

At this exact time last year we had received 4,004 submissions to Best of SNO. Fast forward to now, and we’ve almost hit 8,200. In other words, you all are killing it.

There have been countless great stories among those. These are some of the best from the last few weeks, written and submitted by students just like yours.

Mr. Kuhn bites down on biggest fear with new Instagram account, by Jacob Casella, Downers Grove South High School

Oddity. It’s one of the traditional elements of news, and almost a surefire way to draw readers into your story. And this piece has it. I mean, a 40-year-old picky eater trending on Instagram; who wouldn’t want to read about that?

‘Walking dynamite’ lights up community, by Cheyenne Miller, Seward County Community College

Best of SNO passes on a lot of profiles because they’re not that interesting to people outside the writer’s school or town. However, by profiling a Ugandan refugee in their local community, especially at a time of various refugee crises taking place around the world, the writer provides both education and insight into an experience that many readers will never know.

San Ramon housing crisis prices teachers out, by Sraavya Sambara, Vivian Kuang, Sanjana Ranganathan, Michael Han, and Sneha Cheenath, Dougherty Valley High School

Like we said in our last report, we like stories where the topic has an inherent interest that extends beyond the walls of your school. While this piece focuses specifically on San Ramon and the Bay Area, affordable housing and gentrification are topics that many readers can likely relate to, making this an ideal piece to cater to Best of SNO’s national and international readership.

No Labels Attached: Breaking Gender Stereotypes in Sports, by Morgan Fischer, Alison Pataky, and Karen Ramos, Dominion High School

We’re not only looking for written pieces here at Best of SNO. We also want to see what your staff can do within the realms of photo, audio, and video. This video about gender stereotypes in sports has it all. By combining a compelling story line with multiple interviews, reporter voice-over, a combination of shots, b-roll, and natural sound, the piece checks all the boxes we’re looking for.

How’s The Weather Up There?, by Zara Tola, Marquette High School

For every new movie that hits theaters, we at Best of SNO probably receive at least five different reviews, all usually saying more or less the same thing. The movie “Tall Girl,” released earlier this fall by Netflix, was no exception. That being said, by using the movie plot as a base to work from, this piece comes up with a fresh angle. By talking to girls that the protagonist is supposed to represent, they point out the film’s flaws through firsthand experience, replacing the need to write a standard review.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

The SNO Report: Using the Sports Score Scroller for non-traditional scores

So you need help condensing a three-page fax of cross country results into the teeny little SNO Sports Score Scroller, eh?

The compassionate thing to tell you to do would be to pick up your local newspaper, open it to the sports agate page and see how the hard-working unsung heroes of local newsrooms — sports clerks — do it. #supportlocaljournalism

Your major team sports are easy — football, basketball, baseball and softball, soccer, and hockey. None are made up of winnable individual elements; all of the quarters, halves, periods or innings in a game add up to one final score at the end.

Volleyball is one of the sports that ends up on the fringe of that group because the final score (sets won vs. sets won) is made up of other final team scores. How to display all that information in our Sports Score Scroller depends on how much information you want to show.

Take last December’s NCAA Division I volleyball championship game:

Saturday, December 15
Volleyball
Stanford 3 – Nebraska 2

or

Saturday, December 15
Volleyball
Stanford 3 – Nebraska 2 (28-26, 22-25, 25-16, 15-25, 15-12)

In the second example, the results from individual sets would be placed after the “2” in the Opponent’s Score field. They fit best there because they don’t break up the connection between the 3-2 final score. Stylistically, because Stanford won, always type their score first in the set-by-set results even when it’s lower (28-26, 22-25, etc.).

Tennis, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, and wrestling yield, perhaps, the most challenging subset of results to condense into the Sports Score Scroller, but they are all team sports. So, despite the myriad of individual times, results, placings and scores, each of them typically end up in an easy-to-use final team score. Take this team tennis match, for example:

Friday, December 5
Boys Tennis
Effingham 7 – Charleston 5

A team tennis match, or dual, counts one point for a team per individual win, which is how Effingham wins 7-5. Utilize the same setup for any of the other team sports in this group that participate in dual matches, and then write about the individual results in a news story.

When there are more than two teams competing, like at a meet or tournament, you need to decide how many of the results you want to show.

Try something simple, like this:

Friday, December 5
Girls Golf
Bloomington Central Catholic 661 (4th Place) – Normal U-High 619 (1st Place)

This way creates perspective of your team’s score (and where it placed) compared to the winner. If your team wins, who was second?

To recreate it, assume Bloomington Central Catholic is your school. Type “661 (4th Place)” all into the Our Score field. Normal U-High, in this example, is your “Opponent,” even though they weren’t the only one, and “619 (1st Place)” is their score.

Cheerleading and dance competition results can be displayed the same way.

Friday, December 5
Competitive Cheer
Joliet 88.91 (5th) – Frankfort 91.59 (1st)

It helps to know how each sport works, too. Each one in this group typically has final point totals awarded to teams in any event. If you don’t understand it, ask the coach.

In the postseason, though, athletes competing in these sports can extend their seasons beyond the end of the team’s run by way of their individual performances. That’s where it gets tricky. Given the way Sports Scores are setup, the individual athlete you want to display results for may best serve as your “Opponent.”

Saturday, December 7
Track & Field
Mount Zion 1st Place – Josie Held 12’ 6” (Pole Vault)

In this example, “1st Place” is your score, Josie is the “Opponent” and “12’ 6” (Pole Vault)” is the complete Opponent’s Score.

This won’t work every time, though, and it won’t work well for the results of multiple individuals all at once. So, you may try utilizing a different SNO tool altogether: the Breaking News Ticker.

Naomi Osaka defeats Sabrina Andreescu in three sets (5-7, 6-3, 6-4)

Is there a sport you’re struggling with, not mentioned here? We’d be happy to help.

“Ok boomer,” forgotten youth, California fires and more: last month on Best of SNO

There are multiple factors that come into play when deciding if a story is Best of SNO-worthy. From engaging writing and unique angles to well thought out multimedia elements, more considerations are made than it might look.

So, this week, we’re introducing a new format to this email. Instead of picking a handful of our favorite stories from the last month and linking to them without any rhyme or reason, we’re explaining why we selected them. Welcome inside the mind of a Best of SNO reviewer. We hope this offers a good idea of what we’re looking for in future Best of SNO submissions.

* * *

On the outside looking inby Reuben Stoll, Walt Whitman High School

We receive a ton a game-coverage stories on a daily basis, and quite frankly, most of them don’t make it onto Best of SNO. The reason: A reader in Pennsylvania isn’t all that invested in how your high school volleyball team in California is doing. That being said, this piece on racism in sports has much wider appeal and paints a narrative picture that many Best of SNO readers may not otherwise be able to relate to.

Finding the Light: Students find ways to cope with mental health issuesby Anna Owsley and Ben Wieland, Mill Valley High School

A piece of advice we often give to those vying to be published on Best of SNO is that the topic of the story needs to have an inherent interest that will extend beyond the walls of your school. By choosing a topic with national relevance, yet localizing it by talking to four students within their high school, this piece by the Mill Valley News staff accomplishes this to a T. The infographics they’ve incorporated throughout the story don’t hurt either.

Bound in a Bodyby Megan Percy, Faith Jacoby, Natalie Walsh, Anna Carroll, and Lanie Sanders, Francis Howell Central High School

This piece tackles an incredibly sensitive subject matter in an exceptional way. However, it is not the touchy subject matter that deemed this article worthy of Best of SNO publication. We are not necessarily looking for controversial topics in coverage. In this case, it’s the interviews that stand out. By integrating the stories of six students with eating disorder experiences throughout the text, the writers demonstrate solid interviewing techniques, adding a sense of depth and purpose to the article.

A Northern Lensby Kayla Carpenter, Lafayette High School

Something else we like to see in Best of SNO submissions is especially strong and engaging leads. The lead in this story, detailing the desensitization of a student to hearing gunshots echo throughout their neighborhood, draws the reader in right away.

Forgotten Youth: when college is not your first choiceby Kelly Tran, Kamryn Harty, and George Lefkowicz, Henry W. Grady High School

College admissions season is upon us, and we’ve received more stories than we can count about the overall admissions process. However, there’s likely a portion of your student body that’s not planning on jumping right from high school into a traditional two- or four-year institution. Is your coverage doing these students justice? This article and its unique angle about these “Forgotten Youth” does just that.

“Ok boomer” meme reveals generational dividesby Cheyenne Miller, Seward County Community College

Like we said before, the topics of your coverage don’t always need to be hard-hitting. Light-hearted stories are equally warranted and welcomed. This story capitalizes on this: A trending meme. While the meme itself has divided members of different generations, the reporting brings these two constituencies back together through incredibly balanced interviewing and quotes.

When a Tower Fallsby Zachary Khouri, Brianna Cheng, Auva Soheili, Maddy Ting, and Miki Nguyen, Carlmont High School

While the reporting in this article on the recent California wildfires is extremely solid, in this case it’s the overall story packaging that pushed it through to Best of SNO. By pairing the text with interactive timelines, infographics and photo illustrations, the piece helps hold the reader’s attention from start to finish.

Same School, Different Levelsby Carrington Peavy, Beachwood High School

We rarely come by data-driven stories from our high school and college Best of SNO participants, so when they pop up on our screens, they stand out. This article, driven by district-specific data on standardized test-scores, AP enrollment, suspension rates, and staff diversity, helps break down the concept of the achievement gap, educating readers each step of the way.

Heavy rain and cold temperatures impact homeless residentsby Jose Tobar, Juan Miranda, and Cameron Woods, El Camino College

Giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s one of the longstanding clichés of journalism, but in this story it rings true. By interviewing encampment residents, these journalists clearly pushed themselves to get out of their comfort zones and helped elevate the often overlooked voices of the homeless in the process.

Voicelessby Kailey Gee and Jenna Wang, West High School

By not only incorporating interviews, but also writing samples from each of the girls profiled in this piece, the sense of intimacy created between the writer and the subjects is heightened. The story also takes advantage of the SNO Long Form template, allowing each interviewee to have their own “chapter” and tell their story on their own terms.

* * *

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

The SNO Report: FLEX improvements to Sports, Staff Profiles and Breaking News

Our latest update to FLEX includes subtle improvements to staff profiles, bylines, breaking news headlines, sports scores, and the Sports Center add-on.

1. Perhaps the first change you’ll notice is in how the relationship between the Writer’s Name field on stories and your Staff Profiles is more clearly stated.

  • When you start typing a Writer’s Name, you’ll see a dropdown list of names to choose from based on the staff profiles that have already been setup.
  • If you’re typing a new name, you’ll see a message prompting you to go ahead and create a new Staff Profile for that person.

2. The Staff Profile creation stage has also been simplified to eliminate redundancy.

  • The name you type into the title field of each profile (now labeled “Full Name”) is the name you’ll find in the Writer’s Name list on stories and on your public Staff Profile. (In the past, you typed your name twice on this page.)
  • Also, you can create and edit your own “Staff Years,” meaning if you’d rather your staff be sorted by Fall and Spring semesters or anything other than 2018-2019, 2019-2020, and so on, you can. To do this go to Staff Profiles → Staff Years.
  • Selecting your Staff Year when you create a profile now shows up as a box in the right-hand column of the page (similar to Categories).

As for Breaking News headlines, the redundancy is also gone there. The headline you write into the Headline field at the top is the one that shows up on the website. The only extra information to input is the link to the story.

We also made changes to entering sports scores or rosters, standings, and schedules.

  • Now, when you add a new sports score, for example, you only have to input the information that matters. (We’ve eliminated the need to give it some kind of internal title.)
  • You also don’t have to wait on us anymore to add your own set of sports for your scores, schedules, standings and rosters. You can create and edit your own by navigating to Sports Scores → Sports. (For the Sports Center add-on, it’s also “Sports” located under Game Scheduler or Standings tabs.)

If you have any questions or issues, don’t hesitate to let us know.