Coronavirus Update From SNO Sites

SNO Sites is here to help during these challenging times

Like so many other organizations around the world, we’re taking steps at SNO Sites to respond to the Coronavirus emergency. We want to share those plans with you today and make you aware of two offers we have to help your journalism programs continue to thrive during these unprecedented circumstances.

At the top of our list, of course, is the health and safety of the SNO Patrol team that supports your journalism programs. Starting Monday, March 16th, all SNO employees are encouraged to work from home. We have an amazing team at SNO, and the level of support you receive from us will not change. Likewise, we have been in touch with the vendors we use to power the SNO platform infrastructure, and we have been assured that all systems will continue to function at the highest level.

Next, we know that many of our member schools will be moving to an online-only classroom model in the coming weeks, and that’s going to present a number of new challenges for advisers and student journalists. We have a planning and organizational platform, FLOW, that allows news staffs to coordinate their ideas, stories, and photos as they prepare for publication, and we want to make FLOW available to all of our customers for free through the end of the school year. You can sign-up for this free offer of FLOW through the registration button below. If you decide at the end of the school year that FLOW isn’t for you long-term, you can drop it with no strings attached. If you decide to continue using it next school year, we’ll add it to your website renewal.

Register for the free offer of FLOW

And finally, we know that your programs serve a vital role in keeping your school community informed. We have two mobile apps, the Student News Source for scholastic programs and the College News Source for college programs, that help deliver your news to your readers through their mobile devices. Most notably, the apps allow readers to subscribe to push notifications to be alerted when new stories are posted to your website. As with FLOW, we’re making the app free through the end of the school year for all programs that sign-up through the registration button below. And also like FLOW, if you decide at the end of the school year that the app isn’t a good fit for you, you can drop it with no strings attached.

Register for the free offer of the Source App

Thank you for being a SNO Sites customer. These are challenging times, and we want you to know that we are here to help you however we can.

Be well.


Tom Hutchinson & Jason Wallestad
SNO Sites, Co-Founders

Twenty-three SNO customer sites named NSPA Online Pacemaker Award Finalists

Twenty-three sites in the SNO network were among the 28 finalists for the National Scholastic Press Association Online Pacemaker Awards.

We’re tremendously proud of these outstanding programs. They include:

Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism convention April 16-18 in Nashville.

NEW! Attend intensive SNO training workshop this summer in Minneapolis

Join us this summer at one of three SNO Adviser Academy workshops, an immersive 2-1/2-day training for journalism advisers at our headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn.

SNO’s technical trainer Alex McNamee will be on hand to meet you where you are and take you to the next level with this new workshop designed to give you a complete and extensive hands-on training using the SNO platform, whether you’re new to SNO or a seasoned veteran. And that’s not all: We’ll show you the way to train your students to use your website and add-on tools to uniquely set up each one for success. We’ll cover trends in design, mobile journalism and social media, advertising and marketing and show you how to execute. We’ll discuss ways to better manage your workload in the classroom as you’ll be able to brainstorm and network with other advisers just like you from all over the country.

Workshop Dates
Each session is limited to 12 participants.  

  • Option 1:  June 16 – 18
  • Option 2:  July 14 – 16
  • Option 3:  August 4 – 6

Fees are non-refundable after April 15th and do not include transportation, meals or lodging.

  • Eager Bird Fee (Register by January 1st):  $250
  • Early Bird Fee (Register by March 1st):  $275
  • Ordinary Bird Fee:  $295

There’s no better time than summertime to visit Minneapolis and St. Paul. Catch a home run ball at a Minnesota Twins or St. Paul Saints game, a short light rail trip away. Bike the Greenway to Minnehaha Falls, walk along the Mississippi River or any of our lakes. (We’re known to have thousands.) Grab a drink at one of the Twin Cities’ many breweries or just scarf down a Juicy Lucy and more great food at a local restaurant. And SNO HQ is located just across the street from the Mall of America, with all the shopping and amusement park possibilities you could dream of.

Space is limited in each session.  Reserve your spot today!

The SNO Distinguished Sites Application Season Is Now Open!

Starting today and ending on April 30, 2020, you can (and really should) apply for any (or all) of the SNO Distinguished Sites badges representing six key components of a modern news website:

  • Continuous Coverage

  • Site Excellence

  • Story Page Excellence

  • Best of SNO Excellence in Writing

  • Multimedia

  • Audience Engagement

Exclusively for SNO customers, the SNO Distinguished Sites is not a contest with winners or losers; rather it recognizes those sites that meet the standards in each of these core areas, and it aims to help all member programs excel online. News staffs are welcome to tackle the badges in any order, striving to earn as many as makes sense for their publication.

A program that earns all six badges will be awarded the honor of being a SNO Distinguished Site for the calendar year. In addition, Distinguished Sites will receive a plaque, a press release, and a letter will be sent to the school’s principal or PR department.

Last year, SNO recognized a record 49 student publications as distinguished sites and awarded a total of 219 publications at least one badge.

If you’re a new program and just starting out, you can use these standards to chart your course. If you’re an experienced program already doing these things, then what are you waiting for? Apply for badges right in your SNO Sites dashboard.

Meet the brand new FLOW – Your all-in-one newsroom management tool from SNO

We know that overseeing a journalism program involves a lot of moving parts. That’s why five years ago we created FLOW, an all-in-one newsroom management system designed to help you manage the chaos. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve rebuilt FLOW from the ground up.

Here are just a few of the features that you will find in the new version of FLOW:

  • Customizable Assignment Types, Filters, and Workflows
  • Automated Publishing to your SNO Website
  • Google Docs Integration
  • Integrated Chat and Notifications
  • Photo Storage and Management
  • User Management
  • Print Layout Planner
  • Grading

And that’s just the start. We’ve already started work on iOS and Android companion apps that will allow you to work with FLOW on the go.

We’re excited to offer FLOW for $250 a year as an add-on to your SNO website subscription. But you can get to know FLOW today with a 4-week, no-strings-attached free trial.

Ready to tame your newsroom with FLOW? Click here to sign up for your free trial.

SNO recognizes 49 student publications as SNO Distinguished Sites for 2018-19

SNO’s Distinguished Sites national recognition program, developed six years ago in an effort to more-clearly outline a set of standards for online student journalism excellence, saw more participation and success than ever before during the 2018-2019 school year.

SNO recognized 49 student publications as distinguished sites, compared to 27 last year, and awarded a total of 219 publications at least one badge, up from 117.

Beginning the year, SNO changed the way publications would apply for badges in an attempt to make the program more accessible (applications and badge information was available from the dashboard of each publication’s website) and user-friendly (publications could save their progress on an application to return to it later).

Considering the final participation numbers, that change was successful.

“We’re excited that our new simplified and streamlined submission process has made it easier for more journalism programs to work on best practices and get feedback about the direction of their website,” said Jason Wallestad, SNO co-founder.

The sentiment was echoed by award winners.

“We have been working towards this achievement for the past three years and were so excited to finally accomplish our goal this year,” said Ashley Swain, adviser to The Stampede at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, Fla. “The new format for submitting our individual badges and our Best of SNO submissions really helped us stay focused and organized this school year. I really appreciated that when we began submitting for the badges.”

The student publications pursue six badges that outline standards of excellence in areas of website design, audience engagement, story page layout, multimedia, writing and overall coverage. This year, as an additional and trending test in multimedia, SNO required that students produced and published podcasts to earn the badge.

“All five publications classes contributed to the goal of achieving the Distinguished Site recognition,” said Jonathan Hall, adviser to LHS Today at Liberty High School in Lake St. Louis, Mo. “Each class worked hard to improve the overall content of the site this year and promote it. Students were excited about becoming a Distinguished Site and the effort created a stronger sense of unity within the publications program.”

The badges are not to be passively applied for, as Hall’s five-class effort can attest to; rather, successful publications review the standards and plan for what it’ll take to meet them. When rejected, applications return to students with feedback and the opportunity to reapply.

“The badges forced my students to think more critically about what they covered and how they covered it,” said Mary Long, adviser to The Blueprint at Downers Grove South High School in Illinois. “It was an excellent learning experience for them. They were so filled with pride when the plaque arrived in the mail.”

Each of the 49 SNO Distinguished Site winners received a plaque in the mail — an occasion usually cause for celebration.

“Two administrators just burst into our classroom, read a letter, shook our hands and gave us a plaque,” wrote Lisa Roskens, adviser to Eagle Nation Online at Prosper High School in Texas.

A nice moment for first-time winners, for sure. Each publication interviewed for this article finally did get that plaque this year.

This year’s completed list of SNO Distinguished Sites:

Scot Scoop News (Carlmont High School, Belmont, Calif.); The Sage (Sage Creek High School, Carlsbad, Calif.); El Cid (Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego, Calif.); The Paw Print (Woodside High School, Woodside, Calif.); The Stampede (Wiregrass Ranch High School, Wesley Chapel, Fla.); The Tribe (Santaluces High School, Lantana, Fla.); The Southerner (Henry W. Grady High School, Atlanta, Ga.); The Blueprint (Downers Grove South High School, Downers Grove, Ill.); Spartan Shield (Pleasant Valley High School, Bettendorf, Iowa); West Side Story (Iowa City West High School, Iowa City High School); The Little Hawk (Iowa City High School, Iowa City, Iowa); The Lamplighter (Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Ky.); The Black & White (Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, Md.); The Lance (Linganore High School, Frederick, Md.); Wayland Student Press Network (Wayland High School, Wayland, Md.); The East Vision (East Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Mich.); The Lantern (Cannon Falls High School, Cannon Falls, Minn.); OHS Magnet (Owatonna High School, Owatonna, Minn.); Knight Errant (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park, Minn.); The Echo (St. Louis Park High School, St. Louis Park, Minn.); The Rubicon (St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, Minn.); Pathfinder (Parkway West High School, Ballwin, Mo.); Marquette Messenger (Marquette High School, Chesterfield, Mo.); The Globe (Clayton High School, Clayton, Mo.); The Kirkwood Call (Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.); FHN Today (Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.); The Mirror (De Smet Jesuit High School, St. Louis, Mo.); LHS Today (Wentzville Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Mo.); The Declaration (Colonia High School, Colonia, NJ); The Red & Black (Patchogue-Medford High School, Medford, NY); The Leaf (Sycamore High School, Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio); The BluePrint (Bellwood-Antis High School, Bellwood, Pa.); Periscope (Carlisle Area High School, Carlisle, Pa.); The Purbalite (Baldwin High School, Pittsburgh, Pa.); Mountaineer (Stroudsburg High School, Stroudsburg, Pa.); Eagle Eye News (Tyrone Area High School, Tyrone, Pa.); The Central Digest (Chattanooga Central High School, Harrison, Tenn.); The Shield Online (McCallum High School, Austin, Texas); The Dispatch Online (James Bowie High School, Austin, Texas); Vandegrift Voice (Vandegrift High School, Austin, Texas); CPHS News (Cedar Park High School, Cedar Park, Texas); Coppell Student Media (Coppell High School, Coppell, Texas); Wingspan (Liberty High School, Frisco, Texas); The Review (St. John’s School, Houston, Texas); Cain Live (Klein Cain High School, Klein, Texas); Farmers’ Harvest (Lewisville High School, Lewisville, Texas); The Red Ledger (Lovejoy High School, Lucas, Texas); The Rider Online (Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas); Eagle Nation Online (Prosper High School, Prosper, Texas)

Introducing Student News Source: The new mobile app for SNO customers

Student News Source AppSeveral months ago we announced that we were working on a complete overhaul of our SNOMobile platform, and we asked for help in shaping the new app.

Over 100 SNO customers took the time to provide feedback, and here’s what they said: Make the new app seamlessly integrate with SNO websites, fill it with useful features like photo galleries, automated push notifications and story commenting, and above all else, make it affordable.

Today we are pleased to announce the launch the Student News Source app for SNO customers. Unlike our old platform that relied on individual apps that were expensive to build and difficult to support, the Source app functions as a hub of student journalism around the country. Think of it as the Apple News of student media. Users of the app can follow one or many journalism programs in one place.

The Source is full of features we think student journalists are going to love, and we’re excited to offer it for $250 a year as an add-on to a SNO website subscription.

Here are just a few of the features included in the first version of the Source:

  • Latest stories from your SNO website automatically added to the app
  • Design control from your WordPress dashboard

  • Push notifications by category

  • Photo galleries

  • Staff profiles

  • Story commenting

  • Video

  • Search

  • Social sharing

The app is available today in the iOS and Android app stores. And we have added several programs to it already to give everyone a sense of how it will work for their journalism team. Get out your mobile device and search for the Student News Source in the app stores to give it a trial run today.

By taking the entire development in-house and transitioning away from standalone apps, we’re able to continuously add new features to the app that all subscribers will benefit from. In the coming months, we’ll integrate SNO’s Sports Center tools in the app and add reporter-based push notifications, allowing users to receive a notification when their favorite writer publishes a new story.

Current SNO customers can fill out this form to add their program to the Student News Source app today.

Fourteen SNO customer sites awarded a Pacemaker by NSPA

The National Scholastic Press Association announced its top honors for scholastic press publications on Saturday. We are pleased to share that 14 of the 18 Online Pacemaker winners are members of the SNO community.

The winning sites are:

Congratulations to the advisers and staffs of these terrific programs. For a complete list of winners, go to the NSPA website.

The SNO Report: Eighteen SNO customer sites named Gold Crown winners by CSPA

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its Gold Crown winners this week with 18 of 24 winners in online media categories coming from the SNO community.

The SNO winners are:

In Digital News:

Pathfinder, Parkway West High School (Ballwin, MO)

Southwest Shadow, Southwest Career and Technical Academy (Las Vegas, NV)

The Red Ledger, Lovejoy High School (Lucas, TX)

Wingspan, Liberty High School (Frisco, TX)

In Hybrid News:

El Estoque, Monta Vista High School (Cupertino, CA)

Fenton InPrint, Fenton High School (Frenton, MI)

North Star, Francis Howell North High School (St. Charles, MO)

Panther Prints, Plano East Senior High School (Plano, TX)

The A-Blast, Annandale High School (Annandale, VA)

The Black & White, Walt Whitman High School (Bethesda, MD)

The Broadview, Convent of the Sacred Heart High School (San Francisco, CA)

The Kirkwood Call, Kirkwood HIgh School (Kirkwood, MO)

The Muse, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts (West Palm Beach, FL)

The Newsstreak, Harrisonburg High School (Harrisonburg, VA)

The Rubicon, St. Paul Academy and Summit School (St. Paul, MN)

The Tam News, Tamalpais High School (Mill Valley, CA)

The Tom Tom, Antioch Community High School (Antioch, IL)

Tiger Times, Texas High School (Texarkana, TX)

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Midterm Election Coverage on Best of SNO

OK, we concede. You guys are good!

We asked you to get out there and cover your local elections. Your response? Overwhelming. You had it covered from all angles, so much so that we’ve re-published close to 30 stories so far and still have more to review — and more being sent in.

Thank you for the outstanding response to this first Assignment Desk prompt of the school year. You should be proud of yourselves. It was difficult to choose, but these are some of the best stories on the topic, written and submitted by students just like yours.

Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke talks politics with CPHS Newsby Deana Trautz, Cedar Park High School

“While she was quickly jotting down questions on her phone, O’Rourke tried to get to know Mick by asking about her plans after high school. ‘He paid attention to what I had shared with him (and that made) me feel valued as a person.’”

Georgia governor’s race undecided as Democrats gain in the U.S. Houseby Joe Earles, George Lefkowicz, Dana Richie, Ellie Winer and Sam Huray, Henry W. Grady High School

“It’s troubling because Kemp was Secretary of State, so any broken voting machines or voter suppression looks bad on him.”

20-year-old runs for school board, by Sophie RylandMcCallum High School

“Zachary Price burst into Thunderbird Cafe, out of breath, in a crisply-ironed purple shirt and black blazer. The 20-year old had just come from a lecture, and to all observers he seemed like a normal college student.”

Democrats hope to pass new policies after the Midterms, by Liam Lee, Woodside High School

“At Woodside, a reassuring theme among students and staff alike was a hope that the midterms will bring positive change for issues that continue to plague the country.”

Will SCCC students vote in midterms? by Michelle Mattich, Seward County Community College

“Yet with the governor’s race being so close, young voters could make a massive difference — if they show up. Both liberals and conservatives are calling on them to do so.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

And now … you’re next Assignment Desk topic: California Wildfires.

Rule No. 1: This is not a permission slip to put yourself or others in danger with irresponsible, on-the-ground reporting. Be smart.

Although this topic may give California schools a home-field advantage, other schools around the country should push themselves to find a local angle. When it comes to reporting on national stories, we preach localize, localize, localize at Best of SNO.

Dig into it. See what’s there. Good luck!