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The Lakeland Mirror, official student newspaper of Lakeland College since 1936, unveiled a new website on Feb. 2, according to editor in chief, Danny Spatchek. In addition to standard content like news, features and sports, the new website features highlighted images in an automated slider, the newspaper's Twitter feed and links to the Mirror's Facebook and YouTube pages.
"This is an exciting change for us," Dawn Hogue, Mirror adviser said. "The previous hosting site for the Mirror's online content was a corporate site where there was little control over the design and no control over advertising. We now own our own web space."
The Mirror was able to retain its domain, www.lakelandmirror.com, with help from Larry Marcus, Lakeland's associate director of information technology operations, and Eric LaRose, the college's manager of interactive media.
"We aren't trying to make our website identical to the print version of our paper," Spatchek said. "We're hoping our readers will find value in both."
However, in order to better manage both of the 'papers,' he said, "we have decided to reduce the number of pages in our print editions."
"One big change is the way we'll cover sports. Game stories will appear on the website so we can stay current. We'll use our print editions for sports features and in-depth reporting," Spatchek said.
When the editors began working on the site in August, one goal was to be able to easily integrate multimedia content, like video and audio.
"We are working on the video," Spatchek said. "It's going slowly, but we're learning."
Another benefit of this new site is the ability to engage readers. "Readers can comment on articles and participate in polls," Mike Knaak, managing editor said. "Our readers can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. We're excited about interactive journalism."
Hogue said the new website allows for more flexibility and innovation with our content.
"We're encouraging Mirror staff to write blogs, which is more of a 21st-century journalism skill," she said. "Right now, there are links to four staff blogs. We also have a new advice column blog called 'Guidance Gal,' which should be a lot of fun. We hope we'll get some responses right away."
In addition to his editor duties, Knaak, a senior computer science major, is working as a tech intern for The Mirror. "There has been a lot to learn," Knaak said, "but the site is starting to look like what we imagined it would back in August when we started our planning. While there will still be revisions, we're pretty happy with it right now."
The changes are opening doors to new opportunities for students to use their skills. "The Mirror is always looking for good writers, photographers and layout people," Hogue said. "But now we will also need web-savvy students to join our staff."
Students who would like to join The Mirror staff should contact Spatchek or Hogue.