Take a Minnesota SNO Day and improve your website

Join us for an intense workshop packed with training and designed to help you learn and immediately put into practice methods to improve your website. The entire SNO Team will be on hand to meet you where you are and take you to the next level.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 31 • 9:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Where: SNO Global HQ, Bloomington (2626 East 82nd Street, First Floor Conference Room)

Price: $150 per school team
One adviser plus one or two students. Add a student for $50.
Fees include refreshments and a pizza lunch for each person.
To assist with planning, please reserve your spot by Jan. 15.

This kind of SNO Day doesn’t involve bad weather. It’ll be nothing but useful information, experienced guidance and a chance to focus on your website without distractions. Oh, and we’ll have cookies and pizza for lunch.

The day’s group instruction will concentrate on showing you methods to keep your site fresh, manage the content on your home page, improve the look and utility of your story pages and how to pluck relevant information from your analytics to make decisions about coverage and promotion. You’ll have time to interact with other schools and to practice what you’ve learned.

End the day with a personalized critique just for your site from a member of the SNO Team, starting at 1 p.m. You’ll leave in time to beat traffic and return to school.

Register here: https://snosites.com/snoday/

The SNO Report: Fight the Fake

If you’ve been paying even a modicum of attention, (and we know that you have, you newshounds, you) you know about the problem with fake news. It’s everywhere, with its salacious headlines and promises of shock and sensation. And now the entire nation is abuzz about fake news, as if it’s suddenly come into being. But fake news has been a thing for a long time. Think: The National Enquirer. Nobody ever really worried about it. But thanks to our beloved and ubiquitous social media networks, this election season proved that fake news can have real life ramifications, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon. So the new challenge for journalists, journalism educators, and journalism students? Learning to recognize the fake news, analyze sources, and continue to promote journalistic integrity. It’s a tall order, taller than it has been in the past. Let us get you started:

What it is:

There’s the blatant stuff: totally fabricated, usually hosted by websites with credible-sounding names, and ones that don’t identify themselves as satirical. There’s clickbait: sensational headlines with lots of caps and punctuation and shocking or appealing photos, because you just have to know what caused that horrifying skin condition, right? Right?? But when you get there the content has nothing to do with the photo. And then there’s the sneaky stuff: half truths, misleading stories, speculations and “satire”, all shared online over and over again. For an illuminating take on how these stories go viral, consider this timeline of a speculative tweet that went viral, sparking a widely shared conspiracy theory right before the election.

How to recognize it:

Again, some of it’s obvious, some of it’s not. The important thing is to continue doing your due diligence, checking out sources, and consuming news with a critical eyes. But if you’re into lists, here’s one that delineates the hallmarks of news fakery.

How it spreads:

This one’s easy: social media. We’re uber connected right now, and we love to share, because everyone you know should get to read that one article you read, right? But there’s a major lesson here: sharing isn’t caring, not when it comes to dubious news. Investigate before you share, and try not to engage in reckless liking.

What to do about it:

Investigate. Think. Be critical. Demand facts and don’t accept sensation. And practice. Jonathan Rogers from Iowa City High put together a lesson plan about fake news, it’s pretty cool, and it’s right here.

The SNO Distinguished Sites Application Season Is Now Open!

Between now and May 31, 2017 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 BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must update their site regularly and demonstrate a commitment to timely online journalism.

SITE EXCELLENCE BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must customize their homepage beyond the initial SNO design with a clear sense of purpose for every element on the homepage.

STORY PAGE EXCELLENCE BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must submit eight fully-developed stories from the current school year that go beyond the text to enhance the reader’s experience.

EXCELLENCE IN WRITING BADGE

This badge is automatically awarded to news staffs with at least three stories from this school year published on Best of SNO, a site dedicated to excellence in student journalism.

MULTIMEDIA BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must submit at least three videos and three slideshows published during the current school year that meet standards of excellence in multimedia production.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must meet a minimum traffic threshold, use social media to engage their audience, and study analytics to measure their readership.

News staffs are welcome to tackle the badges in any order, striving to earn as many as makes sense for their publication. A site 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 certificate, a press release, and a letter will be sent to the school’s principal or PR department.

Last year, in the program’s third season, 102 sites piled up individual badges, with 27 programs earning the honor of Distinguished Site.

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 your badges today.

Submissions will be accepted through May 31, 2017, and you can reapply as often as necessary. Badges will be published on our client list as soon as we review your site.

To learn more and to apply, please visit the the SNO Distinguished Sites page.

The SNO Report: Distinguished Sites Submissions Open November 1st

The best day of the year is coming early! No, it’s not your birthday or Flag Day, we have no control over that. But we do get to decide when to open submissions for our Distinguished Sites recognition program, and we’re just too excited to wait until 2017. The Distinguished Sites program consists of six different badges that news staff can earn for demonstrating mastery over online news standards. A site 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 certificate, a press release, and a letter will be sent to the school’s principal or PR department.

Check out the badge descriptions below, and stay tuned for all the nitty gritty details: we’ll release them next week.

CONTINUOUS COVERAGE BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must update their site regularly and demonstrate a commitment to timely online journalism.

SITE EXCELLENCE BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must customize their homepage beyond the initial SNO design with a clear sense of purpose for every element on the homepage.

STORY PAGE EXCELLENCE BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must submit eight fully-developed stories from the current school year that go beyond the text to enhance the reader’s experience.

EXCELLENCE IN WRITING BADGE

This badge is automatically awarded to news staffs with at least three stories from this school year published on Best of SNO, a site dedicated to excellence in student journalism.

MULTIMEDIA BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must submit at least three videos and three slideshows published during the current school year that meet standards of excellence in multimedia production.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT BADGE

To earn this badge, a news staff must meet a minimum traffic threshold, use social media to engage their audience, and study analytics to measure their readership.

And for inspiration, check out these previous winners, they’re pretty great.

 

Twenty-seven SNO customer sites named Crown Award hybrid finalists

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association recently released the list of2017 Crown Award finalists for publications using a hybrid format, and several SNO customers have been named finalists.

Crown Awards are given for overall excellence in student news publication. Hybrid publications earn finalist ranking by achieving excellence in both online and print formats and are judged in head-to-head comparison. Judges consider design, photography, concept, coverage and writing.
This year, 1,190 publications were eligible for Crown consideration, and 56 hybrid format papers have been selected as finalists for overall excellence. The list of finalists will be divided into publications earning a Silver Crown and those earning a Gold Crown. Final results will be announced at theCSPA ceremonies in March.
Check out the 27 SNO customers that have been named finalists:

Congratulations finalists, you’re doing really incredible work.  For a complete list of finalists, please visit the CSPA website.

The SNO Report: Online Lit Mags FTW

Here’s the thing: in the literary publishing game, print has always been king. Readers and writers alike have bowed, mystified, before the gatekeepers of the print literary magazine while dismissing online publications. But the game has changed. In our culture of hyper-connectedness, a link to a published story can be more valuable than a physical copy because it’s infinitely shareable. A writer who publishes work online suddenly has a huge potential audience, and one with a dramatically wider reach than most print publications. Online is the place to be for today’s writers.

At SNO, we couldn’t be happier with this trend: people are writing really good stuff and consumers are hungry for fresh, new, and accessible literature. We can help with that. Our FLEX WordPress platform is designed to be fully customizable, so your school can launch its online lit mag with the same ease of design and access as your newspaper. Custom header graphics, menu, and widget options allow you to arrange and change your site as often as you like. With all the design optionsavailable, your editorial staff can have a real hand in managing the aesthetics of the site. And in the grand tradition of literary publishing, define-able user access roles can allow the Editor-in-Chief and editorial board to screen and curate the work published on their site.

Check out lit mags Apotheosis and Cougar Tales to see the different ways they’ve used the platform. We’re pretty impressed with what they’ve done.

Questions? Talk to us! We’d be happy to chat with you about getting your lit mag off the ground and out into the atmosphere–– the air is pretty good out here.

Fundraising Success

A couple of weeks ago, we let you know about our partnership with Pledgebrite, the web-based platform that makes it easy to launch an online fundraising campaign. The staff at Bloomington South’s The Optimist took us up on the offer, and they have raised over $1100 in two short weeks. To get started with your own fundraiser, just fill out this form.

Reunions, Retinas and Rapper’s Delight: this week on Best of SNO

Best of SNO submissions have been rolling in and we’re loving it. This week, students at The John Carroll School surprise a peer by flying his mother in from Nigeria for graduation, a baseball player nearly loses an eye to a golf accident, and the kids at Kingwood Park are killin’ it on the music scene. Read on for our weekly picks.

Community helps senior reunite with mother – Grace Mottley and Caroline Cooney, The John Carroll School
“Their generosity and dedication surprised Tertsea, his mother, and the community, but their act of kindness has revealed the selfless and generous spirit of the community.”

Unforeseeable future – Hannah Ortega, Lovejoy High School
“Despite the fact that, for a time, Jacob experienced the prospect of not having a right eyeball at all and of never playing baseball again, he remained positive with the help of loved ones.”

Rock Stars of K-Park – Emily Humble, Sarah Martell, Kylee Wing, Kingwood Park High School
“A lot of people in Kingwood are making music,” Ponce said, “and we have something going on really.”

A powerful discussion – Blythe Terry, Starr’s Mill High School
“Even though part of her message involves the frustrating, saddening aspects of mental illness, she feels that it’s paramount to understand that there can be a happy ending.”

Day after encampment sweep, refugees return to central Paris – Allegra Knox and Tailor Liedtke, American School of Paris
“Before the Friday sweep, sidewalks near the metro station were carpeted with mattresses and tents. On Saturday, a garbage truck could be seen stuffed with mattresses that had been left behind.”

Best of SNO is open for submissions!

Best of SNO features outstanding student journalism from members of the SNO Network. We believe that by recognizing and sharing the best work out there, we can help inspire students to continue cultivating fresh ideas and exploring new and innovative approaches to journalism.

Many advisers use examples from Best of SNO as teaching tools in the classroom. Check out some of the stories that have already grabbed our attention:

  • A student at Parkway West outlines the strengths and weaknesses of Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign.
  • Timeless Gene Wilder strikes the fancy of a budding thespian at Canyon High School in this funny and smart memorial.

  • Starr’s Mill student Spencer Dawson traces the history of Title IX and its impact on high school sports today in this story, now featured in Best of SNO.

Best of SNO is now open for submissions! We publish new content daily, so we’re always looking for new material to show off. Great writing, original images, audio, video –– we love well-done journalism. Stories should be previously published on your own news site and should be engaging, concise, and relevant. Check out the rest of our guidelines here.

Stories submitted to Best of SNO are reviewed and published daily, and students who have work featured in Best of SNO will receive a PDF certificate recognizing their achievement. Any school that has three stories published in Best of SNO will receive the Excellence in Writing badge, and the badge will be displayed next to their publication name on the SNO client list.

Submit today!  We can’t wait to start reading.

The SNO Report: SNO recognizes 27 student websites as SNO Distinguished Sites

The 2015-16 academic year is almost over –– in fact, for many of you, it already is. Whether you’re struggling through your last week of finals or you had finished cleaning out your locker weeks ago, summer break is here, and we know you’re all excited about the prospect of taking some much-needed time off. Journalism programs in the SNO network have something else to look forward to, too –– the recognition and pride that comes with being named a SNO Distinguished Site.

Twenty-seven student news websites earned the title of 2016 SNO Distinguished Site after earning badges in each of six areas of distinction. These badges recognize achievement in what SNO views as the best practices of a successful modern news website: story page design, writing, multimedia, continuing coverage, audience engagement, and overall excellence in website design.

The sites awarded this year’s SNO Distinguished Site award are:

SNO created the Distinguished Sites program two years ago with the goal of eliminating the ambiguity of what makes a good online student news site. SNO provides detailed guidelines for each badge, and encourages schools to make improvements and reapply if at first they don’t succeed.

Natalie Rebetsky, adviser of the Distinguished Site award winning Lance at Linganore High School, believes the recognition program encouraged her staff to really explore the features of their SNO site, explaining that “this is also the first time we really looked a side rails, grids, etc. . ., and several students changed their stories and re-published them –– with great enthusiasm.  We designed a new series that will be a container story with chapters –– something we would not have thought of before this semester.”

With many of this season’s Distinguished Sites being repeat awardees, the program has fostered an atmosphere of continuing excellence.

Overall, a total of 102 different scholastic news sitesearned a variety of badges over the course of the past six months, with 27 of those programs earning all six badges and earning the title of SNO Distinguished Site.

The 2017 SNO Distinguished Sites program will be announced at the start of the 2017 academic school year.  We will have some exciting changes to look forward to concerning new (and slightly revamped) badges moving into next season; we will be introducing a new badge based on Best Practices and Web Standards, which will look at a variety of elements, such as your site’s editorial statement, staff page, and the appropriate use and crediting of images. We will also be re-working the current Site Excellence badge into a more focused badge called Homepage Excellence, which will look exclusively at the design and layout of your site’s homepage.

The SNO Report: Best of the Best of SNO

Well, we made it – another school year means another nine months of stellar Best of SNO submissions from so many supremely talented young journalists – and what better way to wrap up another fantastic season than to acknowledge our very favorite stories published on Best of SNO this school year? A huge congratulations to all of the writers and staffs below! If you don’t see your school listed here, don’t be discouraged – we easily could have selected enough favorites to come up with hundreds of award categories, if only we had the time to spare.

Without further ado, we present the 2015-2016 Best of Best of SNO!

Best editorial on a school or local issue:
Not-so-socially-acceptable mediaMimi Wright, Kirkwood High School

Best editorial on a national or international issue:
Tick-tock goes the…bomb?Summer Thomad, Southwest Career and Technical Academy

Best opposing viewpoints:
Versus: Pro-Choice and Pro-LifeRebekah Rosenstein, Michelle McDaniel, Legacy High School

Best use of infographic:
How should you spend your Thanksgiving season?Justin Sweeney, Mary Stuart Murray, Kirkwood High School

Best use of innovative design:
The New GenderationMadeline Bowne, Ashley Cooper, Sonia Kim, Lanxi Li and Jenna Myers, Cherry Hill High School East

Best sports coverage:
My life on the rinkCaroline Puckett, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Best news coverage, health edition:
Crickets become the new protein sourceJohn Bandek, Clark Magnet High School

Best news coverage, education edition:
Standardized redundancy: The failure of American testingHenry Dikeman, Apple Valley High School

Best political coverage:
Kanye graduates from hip-hop to politicsBria Blassingame, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

Best metajournalism:
Publications statewide must stand behind first amendmentKaylee Chamberlain and Hannah Bernstein, St. Louis Park High School

Best movie review:
The Force falls asleep in new Star Wars movieSophie Haddad, Carlmont High School

Best use of story page template:
Top 15 albums of 2015Henry Youtt, Liberty High School

Best investigative reporting by an individual:
Schools not notified of students with sex offensesZia Kelly, Lawrence High School

Best investigative reporting by a group:
Homelessness in Iowa: A hidden issueAndi Munford, Vivian Le, Waukee High School

Best feature in a series:
Kit-fox probe beginsJoe Bergman, Bakersfield College

Best technology exposé:
The social media maskLilly Stannard, John Carroll School

Best photojournalism:
A day at the shelter Minju Kang, West Ranch High School

Best student profile:
SongbirdAlex Walters, McKinney Boyd High School

Best alumnus profile:
Journalism students speak to ABC evening reporter Natasha BarrettKamryn Kobal, Cypress Ranch High School

Best creative editorial:
I didn’t know – Nicholas Smith, Lovejoy High School

Best informative journalism:
A breakdown of what it means to be transgenderRose Rodriguez, Sartell High School

The Logan Aimone best critter profile:
Meet the Geese 2: Geesepocolypse Hannah Hoffmann, Parkway West High School
(Honorable mention: Unique pets: four students share their crittersEmma Froseth, Benilde-St. Margaret’s)

And there you have it! As always, Best of SNO will be taking a break over the summer, but will resume publishing your fantastic work come August. Have a great summer, and we can’t wait to read more of your submissions next year!