Journalism students at Westwood Regional High School have begun publishing their work online, mirroring major media outlets and the jobs the student reporters may one day hold.
The Westwood Cardinal Chronicle, the school's newspaper, stopped its print edition and moved online in November, according to journalism teacher and publication advisor Eileen Nagle.
"I think a lot of people still like having something to hold on to, but it's turned into something better than it could be in print," Nagle said.
The Chronicle has been publishing at a rate of about one story each week since the move online. The students have continued writing school news, covering school sports and reviewing local eateries, and expanded into arts and news stories with a potentially wider base of interest.
Nagle credited the success of the change to the students who work on the paper, including seniors Nicole Fiorica and Jimmy Lewis, the editors in chief.
"They're really great students and great journalists," Nagle said. "They're willing and they have what it takes to move it online."
The students said that they've already found benefits in the move online. The Internet helps them to reach a wider audience beyond the school. The ability to publish anytime has allowed them to cover events like the Golden Globes, which would have lost its relevance by the time a paper was printed weeks later. Fiorica and Lewis both said they have been able to write a much wider variety of articles — news, features, columns — online than they could in print.
"I've become so much more flexible as a writer," Fiorica said.
The change has presented some challenges for students. The online format demands regular updates to keep the site fresh, and balancing the work with other commitments among all the student editors before an article is published can take some time.
"Once you get it up, you have to keep producing articles," Lewis said. "It's a big undertaking."
Still, Lewis said he expects the experience of balacing a variety of assignments with different deadlines will be valuable in college.
The students are also gaining experience with other aspects of working in online media. They are repsonsible for running the Chronicle's Facebook and Twitter pages, something which was needed for some time. Students used to share an article from the print edition by posting a photo of it on Instagram, Lewis said.
Overall, Nagle said she believed that working online would be beneficial for the students.
"It's really helped them find their voices as journalists," Nagle said.
To check out the Westwood Cardinal Chronicle, visit WestwoodCardinalChronicle.com.