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.

SNO TAJE 2017 Summer Workshop

The SNO workshop sessions are designed to help you grasp the creative power you have over your SNO site and use it to transform your publication. We’ll cover all the basics, and get into the advanced tools that’ll help you take your site to the next level. You’ll get the most up-to-date education on SNO’s latest features, learn how to study analytics, and master best practices for the web and social media.

The two-day workshop will be held August 7- 8 at the Allen ISD Service Center, 1451 N. Watters Road, Allen, Texas. Registration is $200 per school, includes one adviser and up to two student participants. Add an extra  student for $75.  (Registration does not include meals or hotel.)

Questions? Contact SNO Sites or Margie Raper.

To book a room, contact the La Quinta Inn and Suites, 214-667-6777.  Mention TAJE for a negotiated rate of $84.00+tax.

Register today!


The SNO Report: Two new ways to raise money for your program

We know that budgets are tight today for schools, and scholastic journalism programs can be hit especially hard by funding cuts. That’s why we are excited to announce two new programs designed to help teachers and students on the SNO platform raise funds for their journalism programs.

Fundraising made easy

We’ve partnered with Pledgebrite to offer SNO customers simple online tools for fundraising. Through this partnership, your program is able to set up a crowdfunding site within minutes to raise funds for equipment purchases, printing and hosting costs, field trips, conventional travel, and anything else your journalism program needs.

All donations are managed online through credit card payments, so there’s no need for you and your staff to spend hours trying to track down the cash. When your fundraising campaign ends, we’ll send you a check for 85% of what’s collected online. The remaining 15% goes toward paying the credit card fees and serving costs related to the fundraiser. It’s as simple as that.

To view a sample fundraiser, visit this link. To get started with your own fundraiser, just fill out this form.

Online advertising marketplace

The two biggest hassles in selling online advertising are collecting the money and creating the ads. We’ve solved both of these problems with a new self-service online advertising marketplace. Instead of trading emails with advertisers and waiting for their checks to arrive in the mail, you can now direct your advertising prospects to your site’s listing on the marketplace to purchase their ad and upload their own creative. You can rest assured that no inappropriate ads will make it onto your site, as all ads are reviewed and approved by SNO staff before going live.

When an ad is sold and approved for your site, we’ll apply 65% of the earnings as a credit to your SNO account. The remaining 35% goes toward paying the credit card fees and the administrative costs associated with licensing the marketplace software and managing the financial transactions. Any earnings above and beyond your SNO fees will be issued back to your program at the end of each school year.

To view a sample list, visit this link. To add your site to the online marketplace, just fill out this form.

Have questions about our new programs? Just drop us a line.

The SNO Report: Tackling tough topics the right way

High schools and colleges are no strangers to controversy, and, like the true journalists you are, when something major hits your community, you’re probably jumping at the chance to break the news. That’s a great attitude to have, but all too often something stands in the way; whether it’s a conservative or over-controlling administration, a too-timid staff, or just simply not knowing how to appropriately tackle a tough topic, it can almost be easier to shy away from covering those sensitive subjects. We encourage you to do the exact opposite––dive into the deep end, but do it with grace. And, if you’re not willing to take our word for it, you can hear from someone who’s experienced it first-hand. Kaylee Chamberlain, Web Editor-in-Chief of the St. Louis Park High School’s Echo here in Minnesota, was generous enough to provide some insight into the process she and her staff went through earlier this year while covering a local controversy. The Echo staff did a number of storiesconcerning a janitor working at St. Louis Park High School who was arrested for nonconsensual sexual misconduct. You can read all about how the Echo staff found solutions to some common concerns that come up when covering a sensitive subject below.

Did you have any meetings with the staff to discuss the process, or run into any trouble with administration?

KC: “Yes, we held meetings daily with both editors-in-chief, our adviser, the writer, content editor and anyone else helping to gather facts and information. We held conferences in which everyone, including people who had never seen the story before, read over the story, and we questioned every fact and made sure everything was as clear as possible. We have a very strong staff in that if any administration did try to cause trouble, it would be shut down almost immediately. We are very lucky to have an adviser that has instilled fear into the administration so they know to never try to censor us.”

Did you receive any feedback from the community––positive or negative––after the articles were published?

KC: “For all of our sexual misconduct stories published this fall we did not face much negative backlash. Many people had no idea what had been happening so it was primarily a thankful response because we were delivering the truth. Because we had made sure that everything we published could be supported by reasonable evidence, there wasn’t much anyone could do as far as a negative response.”

How would you encourages other programs in the SNO network to take some risks with their reporting, but do it smartly?

KC: “FACT CHECK. We are not here to start rumors, only to present people with the unbiased truth to the best of our ability. We had pages of supporting evidence, but once we weeded out anything that we could not fully support, that’s when we could begin to write. Another important thing is, if someone denies to comment, you can state that in the story. It is important to allow right of reply, but if the person has no comment, stating that is okay.

What I would say to any to other programs is, it’s okay to report on the controversial things. It’s a lot of work, but the passion that is unveiled in staffers is amazing. Our staff was so excited to feel that they could make a difference and to see how our jobs mattered. When you publish something you have put so much time into, you and your staff will be so proud.

Overall, this experience allowed our staff to grow and learn.”

A huge thanks to Kaylee and the entire Echo staff for sharing their experience with us. We hope they inspire you to go forth and take some risks. Just remember to stay smart, remain sensitive, and keep on doing what you do best: report the news.

The SNO Report: New Hires. New Office. Same Great Taste.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

There’s been a lot of change around SNO HQ of late. In November, we said goodbye to Ali Catt (real name), who left SNO to focus on her budding writing career. On Monday of this week, we welcomed two new members to the SNO Patrol:  Tom Sugatt and Paul Hamberg.

Tom joins SNO as our new Technical Support Specialist. When you need technical (and light emotional) help, Tom will be the first person you connect with through the email ticketing system, online chat, or on the phone.

Paul joins SNO as our new Technical Specialist. His time will be focused on the behind the scenes stuff that keep your sites running smoothly:  New website and app construction, DNS record management, server resource management, quality testing.

To make room for these great new additions to the SNO team, we packed up our bags in Burnsville and moved north of the Minnesota River to a new office in Bloomington, just a couple of blocks from either the best or worst place on earth: Mall of America. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and check out the new office smell!

Badge Season Update

As most of you know, the 2016 SNO Distinguished Sites season is happening right now, which means it’s time to start submitting and earning those badges. If you’re not entirely sure whether or not you qualify for any of the badges, you can check those out here. We’re a little over a month into accepting submissions, and 44 schools in the SNO Network have already received badges, which is awesome.

We’ve even had two schools earn all six badges.  Congratulations to Liberty High School and St. Louis Park High School on becoming our first Distinguished Sites of 2016! But don’t let them have all the glory — start applying for badges now, and your publication can earn those highly sought after bragging rights that come with being a SNO Distinguished Site.

The SNO Report: Resources for journo advisers

As you’ve probably heard by now, SNO is all about taking care of the technology so you can focus on the journalism– but that doesn’t mean we aren’t focusing on journalism either. We’re pretty dedicated to finding ways to make the life of a journalism educator easier; here are 6 resources we think might help with that:

Verification Junkie
Here is a blog dedicated to collecting tools for all of your fact-checking needs. The site gives reviews of each product, as well where you can find it.  An invaluable resource for verification and assessment of your user-generated content, especially information gathered from social media.  Basically, an absolute must for all journo advisers everywhere.
Sponsored by the American Society of News Editors, this site has an abundance of resources for your newsroom– from actual lesson plans and teaching tools to information on workshops, scholarships, and contests, you could (and should) easily spend a few hours exploring the helpful contents of this site.

American Press Institute
Students need resources, too; and whether it’s because you’re too busy doing one of the 2395 other things on your list, or you don’t feel like going over the first amendment twenty times, or even if you just want your staff to do some intrinsic learning, this is a good place to send them for some student-centered journalism resources.

AP Style Quizzes
Do your students struggle with AP Style? Trust us when we tell you they’re not alone– getting used to a new style after years of probably only being allowed to write in MLA isn’t easy. Here is a collection of 18 AP Style Quizzes to give your students. Make sure they’re experts before you send them off into the “real world;” they’ll definitely impress their future J-School classmates at whatever Ivy League school they are sure to get into after taking these quizzes.

Society of Professional Journalists
This one pretty much explains itself– the Society of Professional Journalists have put together useful tools for advisers and educators. It doesn’t get more legitimate than that.

Covering sensitive content
We know it can be intimidating, but we encourage members of the SNO Network to not shy away from reporting on tough topics. These are a few resources and guides that will help your students tackle the more difficult stories with grace.

2016 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference
The application deadline for the 2016 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference is fast-approaching.  One high school JUNIOR from every state and the District of Columbia will be selected for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., June 18-23, and will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his/her choice.  Visit for more information and to apply online.

The 2016 SNO Distinguished Sites Application Season Is Now Open!

Between now and May 31 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

  • Excellence in Writing

  • Multimedia

  • Audience Engagement

Not a contest with winners or losers, the SNO Distinguished Sites program recognizes those sites that meet the standards in each of these core areas. For each set of standards reached, a badge will be displayed on the SNO client list next to that publication’s name.

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 badges in all six core areas will be designated as a SNO Distinguished Site. Any staff that earns the SNO Distinguished Site designation will be permanently recognized on SNO’s Award Winners page.

Last year, in the program’s second season, 103 sites piled up nearly 178 individual badges, with 14 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, 2016, 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.

Best of SNO: Now open for submissions

Best of SNO showcases the best student journalism from members of the SNO Network (that’s you!) Why? We believe in recognition and inspiration–by displaying excellent work, we hope to inspire students with fresh ideas and new approaches to traditional news material. Many educators also use examples from Best of SNO as teaching tools in their classes.

Best of SNO is now open for submissions! We post new content daily, so we’re always on the prowl for great writing, original images, video, audio, and whatever else you’ve got up your sleeve. Stories submitted to Best of SNO should be previously published on your own news site. Simply put, we like good journalism–engaging, concise, and relevant–but for more detailed dos and don’ts, check out our guidelines here!

And it’s never too early to start thinking about the SNO Distinguished Sites program; with the school year in full swing, you’re no doubt curating and cultivating tons of great content– so why not get recognized for it? Starting in January, submissions for our Distinguished Sites program will open, but you can start working towards those badges right now.

SNO’s Distinguished Sites Program is composed of six separate badges, each representing a component of a successful news website. The badges are:

  • Continuous Coverage

  • Site Excellence

  • Story Page Excellence

  • Excellence in Writing

  • Multimedia

  • Audience Engagement

We’ve even come up with some new goals for you; because of our two new story page templates and SNO Story Elements, we’ve made some updates on the requirements for the Story Page Excellence badge. Out of the eight stories you submit for this particular badge:

You can apply for the badges in any order; for each set of standards reached, a badge will be displayed on the SNO client list next to that publication’s name. A site that earns all six badges will be considered a Distinguished Site. You can find more information about the Distinguished Sites program in our customer portal!

The SNO Report: Kickstart your school year with these new features

We hope you had a great summer! Whether you’re a brand-new adviser or a website pro, SNO wants to offer you an enthusiastic welcome back. We’ve got some great new features and updates to make you the rockstar of your journalism department this year. Keep reading to see what we’ve been working on.

Meet the new and improved FLEX
While you were having fun in the sun, the SNO Patrol was busy developing some new features we think you’ll love!

Side-by-side story template. This is a great option for displaying related stories, like pro and con opinion pieces, next to each other. It’s designed a bit like the longform template, with the ability to set an immersive featured image at the top. You can see an example of what it looks like here.

Want to try it out for yourself? Follow these easy instructions.

Three-column widget layout. When you place a SNO category widget in the Home Top Wide area, you’ll now see an option to create a three-column format. This format creates one, two, or three rows of featured images that sit directly above their associated headlines and teaser text. You can adjust the height and teaser length here as well.

New widget style option. By popular demand, we’ve added a sixth widget style to your site. It’s got a “flag” look to it that we think is pretty nifty! Design it to your liking under SNO Design Options>Widget Styles.

Live widget and menu customizer. You can still design your widgets and menus the old-fashioned way by clicking either option underneath Appearance. If you want to see how your site will look before saving your changes, though, navigate to Appearance>Customize Live — you’ll see a preview of your homepage that refreshes as you make changes.

Easily embed story elements. Adding pull quotes, polls, related stories, and other embeddable objects into your stories is easier than ever. When you’re editing a story, you can now click the “Add SNO Story Element” button to add in these elements and more. You can even search for related stories by title or keyword — no more hunting for story ID numbers.

New preset style starters. Check out the new style starters we’ve added. If you want to quickly give your site a makeover while preserving your widget layout and color scheme, navigate over to SNO Design Options>Preset Style Starters to try them out for yourself.

Introducing SNO Mobile: a dedicated app for iOS and Android
SNO sites are (and always will be) 100% mobile-responsive, right out of the box,even without an app. But for those schools that want to take their sites’ accessibility, convenience, and readership to the next level, we’re now offering a dedicated app that’s crafted just for you. Here’s a small sample of what you get with SNO Mobile:

Push notifications. Instantly alert your fans when new stories are posted on your site.

Seamless syncing. Your SNOMobile app and SNO site are linked, so any time you post a new story on your site, your app will reflect it immediately.

Grow readership. SNOMobile apps work effortlessly with the native social media features of Apple and Android systems.

Want to know more? Read all about SNO Mobile here. We’d love to get to work on your app today.

Unlimited support (as always!)
Enjoy the new school year, and remember: we’re always here when you need us. Simply chat, email, or send us a support ticket — we’ll reply to you with lightning speed.

All our best,
The SNO Patrol

Need a good way to celebrate Constitution Day?
Members of Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee have developed several ways to learn about and explore the Constitution. View the lesson plans or view this video to see how to incorporate activities for the Sept. 17 event.

SNOMobile: Premium iOS and Android apps for scholastic journalism programs

We’ve got some exciting news for you. We’ve been listening to your requests, and after many months of research and development, we’re ready to roll out the premium service you’ve been asking for. That’s right–SNOMobile, our dedicated app for Mac and Android devices, is finally here!

We want to be clear: your SNO site is and always will be 100% mobile-responsive, right out of the box, even without an app. Our WordPress theme is designed to display beautifully on any screen. Readers will have a great experience whether they’re viewing your homepage on a 23” monitor or a 3” smartphone.

So rest assured, you don’t need an app. That said, SNOMobile offers several features that go above and beyond the call of duty. Here are just a few of the perks:

Push notifications. Keep your student body up-to-date on the latest school news. SNOMobile integrates with the native Mac and Android notification systems, and can instantly alert your fans when new stories are posted on your site.

Seamless syncing. Your SNOMobile app and SNO site are linked, so any time you post a new story on your site, your app will reflect it immediately.

Student access. Schools often provide students with iPads or tablets loaded only with district-approved apps. When general internet access is restricted, it can be tough to drive traffic to your page–but the SNOMobile app gives students the ability to view your site independently of a browser.

Grow readership. SNOMobile apps work effortlessly with the native social media features of Mac and Android systems. With a couple taps of a stylus or fingertip, a news story you post today could go viral on Twitter tomorrow.

Our apps are uniquely crafted for each school, and though they may seem tiny in size, creating them is a time- and cost-intensive process. We want our pricing to always remain transparent. The yearly cost of the app is $500 for hosting, support, and ongoing updates. Additionally, a one-time setup cost of $300 covers the initial development and customization of your app.

SNOMobile is a premium product with a premium price tag, and we understand the cost isn’t feasible for many schools. That’s why we pledge to always keep your SNO site looking great on all devices–we’ll never force you to pay extra for mobile-readiness. The SNOMobile app is just an extra, delicious layer of frosting on the cake you already have!

Want to take a look at an app we’ve already released into the world? Check out the Knight Errant, from Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park, Minn.:

Ready to order your very own app? Just click here to fill out the order form, and our developers will get to work pronto. As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know–we’re all ears.