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!

It’s SNO Distinguished Sites Season

Your favorite time of year is back, the time of year when you can begin applying for our SNO Distinguished Sites badges.

Like Best of SNO, this year you’ll submit for badges on your own site dashboard, in the tab for SNO Badges. There, you’ll get started, track your progress, submit to Best of SNO, and receive notifications from our awards coordinator.

It’s easier than ever before to track the badges you’ve earned and what still needs improvement from the others you’re still working towards.

As is the case every year, each badge has a few minor adjustments to its requirements.

But there are a couple notable biggies.

Site Excellence Badge

Worded differently in the past, your homepage must be customized beyond the basics (i.e. the template you started with). Specifically, many of your homepages still use the dated technology of the Showcase Carousel, Teaser Bar A, Teaser Bar B, and Top Story Display Area.

To earn this badge, you’ll have to replace those features (found on your SNO Design Options page) with features available on the Widget Control Panel.

Multimedia Badge

It’s time you tried podcasting. To earn this badge, you’ll need three podcast episodes that meet all seven of our requirements. Those include episodes being interview-based, 5-15 minutes long, using music and including a structured intro and outro.

Those are two of the most significant changes to the game this season. Good luck!

SNO launches podcast all about journalism

Introducing SNOcast, a new weekly podcast series featuring conversations with journalism teachers, students and working professionals. We’ll discuss journalism best practices, lessons from being out in the field and everything in between.

In the beginning, we’ll also share our experiences and learned tricks, like those of anyone else, of going through the trials and errors of starting, producing and publishing a podcast, so that you, too, can explore this popular medium.

On the first episode, we sit down with former Echo (St. Louis Park High School) student newspaper editor Annabella Strathman for a discussion about creating a successful staff structure, including what it looked like for her publication, who answers to whom, which roles are responsible for what, and why separating print and online doesn’t work.

The podcast will be available wherever you get yours, so please subscribe, follow, favorite, or bookmark us, and make sure you don’t miss an episode.

SNO recognizes 27 student publications as SNO Distinguished Sites for 2017-18

At five years old, there’s more diversity than before in the SNO Distinguished Sitesprogram. Five student publications were welcomed to the winners’ circle for the first time, one of which was an early adopter of SNO (way back in 2010) and another which migrated over to SNO not even six months ago.

All 27 staffs receiving the recognition this year could tell a different story of how they got there, whether it’s their first time, over again, or after missing it for any number of years.

There was the early adopter, El Cid, of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, which improved from earning three badges a year ago to collecting all six this time.

There was the eager beaver, The Shield Online, of McCallum High School in Austin, Texas, which signed up at SNO’s table during the November convention, received an NSPA Online Pacemaker during the spring convention and earned the last badge they needed to take home SNO Distinguished Site hardware soon after.

All of them followed the same rules, subjected to the same list of requirements essential to building and maintaining a modern news site.

Riley Hetherington, the editor-in-chief of El Cid, was, like the other six members of the staff, in journalism for the first time. But no matter, adviser Chris Grazier made earning SNO badges a goal and Hetherington obliged.

“The constant motivation to reach our goal definitely improved the behind the scenes,” Hetherington said. “It felt like we had a purpose in completing our deadlines. The Best of SNO awards were a huge goal for our staff writers, and it pushed all of us to strive for better story ideas and (to) value quality of quantity.”

Beyond Best of SNO, the badges changed the way the El Cid staff prepared for publishing.

“Once the goal was on our radar, achieving it influenced both our schedule and content,” Hetherington said. “During our story pitch sessions, badges were definitely on our mind as we attempted to create articles that would fit in the requirements.”

Sophie Ryland, web editor-in-chief of The Shield Online, was partly excited by migrating their site over to SNO because of the Distinguished Sites program. “DW (adviser David Winter) and I are naturally very competitive people, so when we saw the badge system, we were very excited to win some,” she said.

But Ryland also viewed the badges as instructive building blocks for a staff on a new platform.

“Seeing the guidelines, there were some on features I hadn’t even thought about,” Ryland said, pointing to the custom favicon requirement for the Site Excellence badge. “It definitely gave us some guidance in terms of how to further develop our website and the stories on it.”

All SNO sites started with similar beginnings to The Shield Online, but not all were as proactive.

Jessica Wagner, of Owatonna High School in Owatonna, Minn., remembered her first year advising OHS Magnet, when she was still trying to find her footing and not fully confident her staff should participate in the Distinguished Sites program.

“I ignored the details in the emails until about March because I was just starting to figure out what it meant to advise a newspaper versus teach a class,” Wagner said of the 2013-14 school year. “We applied for a few badges that first year. We were such a small staff, we were delighted by anything that made it seem like we were figuring it out.

“The staff really started to grow leaps and bounds, especially when we were told, ‘No, you didn’t achieve the badge you applied for and this is why,’” Wagner continued, “The feedback for my staff was so perfect. All of a sudden, they understood what they needed to do. We did earn some badges (that year), but it made my returning kids put it as the goal for the next year.”

It’s been a goal every year since, she said, and OHS Magnet has been a SNO Distinguished Sites every year since — four years running.

OHS Magnet didn’t earn all six badges that first year — the first of SNO’s recognition program. The Kirkwood Call, of Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Mo., was one of the schools that nailed them all right away.

Kirkwood has had a SNO Distinguished Site all five years — a model of consistency — but web editor Maddie Hawes said they continue to find new ways to put the badges to work.

“After a while, it seems like no one can really give you constructive criticism on how to improve your publication’s site,” Hawes said. “But with the badges, you realize there are legitimate changes to be made that will strengthen your site.

“I think this is true for every site, each year, especially when new staffers come in and things change,” Hawes added, “SNO badges remind you and your staff that your website can be better and push you to pursue that goal.”

Whether it means inviting new staffers in or involving carryovers from years past, the consensus of those interviewed said the best way for a staff to achieve its goals in the Distinguished Sites program is to make it as inclusive as possible.

It’s ripe with opportunity to do so.

“I think because we chose to divide the badges between all kinds of staffers, not just web-oriented ones, is why our site was so successful this year,” Hawes said. “A publication’s website is significantly (more) difficult to run when a portion of your staff doesn’t appreciate it or fails to see its value, and the SNO Distinguished Sites program shows people your website deserves credit.”

In total, 117 sites from 32 states earned badges.

This year’s complete list of SNO Distinguished Sites:

Eagle Eye News (Tyrone Area High School, Tyrone, Penn.); West Side Story (Iowa City West High School, Iowa City, Iowa); Scot Scoop News (Carlmont High School, Belmont, Ca.); The BluePrint (Bellwood-Antis High School, Bellwood, Pa.); Wingspan (Liberty High School, Frisco, Texas); The Red Ledger (Lovejoy High School, Lucas, Texas); The Kirkwood Call (Kirkwood, Mo.); The Red & Black (Patchogue-Medford High School, Medford, N.Y.); The Mirror (De Smet Jesuit High School, St. Louis, Mo.); The Leaf(Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, Ohio); The Lance (Linganore High School, Frederick, Md.); FHN Today (Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.); Pathfinder(Parkway West High School, Ballwin, Mo.); The Black & White (Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, Md.); OHS Magnet (Owatonna High School, Owatonna, Minn.); The Central Digest (Chattanooga Central High School, Harrison, Tenn.); The Review (St. John’s School, Houston, Texas); Periscope (Carlisle Area High School, Carlisle, Penn.); Coppell Student Media (Coppell High School, Coppell, Texas); Knight Errant (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park, Minn.); The Rubicon (St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, Minn.); El Cid (Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego, Ca.); The Declaration (Colonia High School, Colonia, N.J.); Farmers’ Harvest (Lewisville High School, Lewisville, Texas); The Rider (Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas); The Shield Online (McCallum High School, Austin, Texas); The Lamplighter (Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Ky.).

The 2019 SNO Distinguished Sites program schedule will be announced in the fall with the submission period beginning in the winter.

Seventeen SNO sites awarded Pacemaker by NSPA

The National Scholastic Press Association announced its top awards for scholastic press organization Saturday, April 14. We are pleased to share that 17 of the 22 Online Pacemaker Award winners are members of the SNO community.

Those winning sites are:

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

Sixteen SNO customer sites named Gold Crown winners by CSPA

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced its top awards for scholastic press publications on March 16, 2018. We are pleased to announce that sixteen SNO customer websites were named Gold Crown winners in digital categories.

Two SNO customers were awarded Gold Crowns in the digital division:

  • Southwest Shadow, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Wingspan, Liberty High School, Frisco, Texas

Fouteen SNO customers were awarded Gold Crowns in the hybrid division:

Congratulations to the advisers and staffs of these tremendous programs. For a complete list of Gold and Silver Crown winners, please visit the CSPA website.

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

Of the 42 finalists for the Online Pacemaker Award from the National Scholastic Press Association 28 websites are in the SNO network.

Fourteen SNO sites were recognized in the large school division:

Fourteen SNO sites were recognized in the small school division:

We’re tremendously proud of these outstanding programs.

Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism convention April 12-14 in San Francisco.