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 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.
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 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.