Blockbuster “blasts” its way online

Mahnoor Ahmad, Page Editor

Even though paper copies of the school newspaper aren’t a viable option at this point, distance learning is not stopping the Burroughs Newswriting class from going to press.

Newswriting students and Adviser Susan Burgess are excited to release a new online edition the paper – dubbed the Blockbuster Blast – under the guidance of this year’s co-editors, seniors Nicholas Baca and Alex Gerber.

Not surprisingly, Baca is hoping to see a lot of online engagement from the student body.

“This year, I hope to get the most paper popularity because everyone in this class has worked so hard to make a good paper for the students,” said Baca. On top of meeting every morning for a first period class, staffmembers have spent weekends virtually meeting to make the Blockbuster Blast look amazing with interesting and informative content. 

Gerber finds it helpful that the newspaper is going online. 

There are tons of advantages to going online,” said Gerber. “I hope to provide a larger voice within the student body.” Some advantages Gerber mentioned are the lack of word limits and ability to publish more frequently. Being able to publish more stories and more frequently means that more students get an opportunity to find their way into the publication’s virtual pages.

The class is still getting used to the website but appreciate the website’s accessibility. Most members of the class are already finding it easy to publish or edit stories, and are still exploring some tools. One feature that they are looking forward to implementing is online polling. This “widget” gives the student body an opportunity to give input about anything or even answer a fun question when they’re bored. 

Burgess said she is optimistic about the development, despite some initial wariness.

“I love that students can work on the paper remotely,” said Burgess. “The platform allows everyone to contribute and make decisions that impact the look and feel of the publication.” She said she has always been frustrated that their ability to cover some events was impacted by a production schedule that was out of their hands.

“When we were restricted to a print edition, we always had to send our pages for printing days in advance. We weren’t able to cover what was happening right at that moment,” she said. “Now we can publish the news when it is news.”   At the same time, she said she will miss seeing the printed bundles of the paper in front of her classroom, ready for distribution.

“Even when I knew what the pages looked like from seeing them in InDesign on press day, I always looked forward to seeing them all together in newsprint.  The online version seems somewhat ephemeral,”  she said.   She is hoping that they can run both editions in tandem when students return for in-person instruction.

“I do want to see Burroughs students with physical copies in their hands again some day!” she said.  A former Blockbuster editor herself, she said that she has always believed that the paper plays an important role in building the campus community – something that is even more important now with students isolated from one another in distance learning.

“Hopefully the Blast allows us to help students feel connected,” said Burgess.

Even though there isn’t the traditional feel of having a paper in their hands or seeing the final printed product after hours of hard work, having such a positive and exciting change really lifted morale and has offered something the Newswriting class is really looking forward to this year.

The Newswriting class is trying to brainstorm different ways to advertise and get the word out online. They’re already planning to reach out to the school and advertise on the Burroughs website, but what better way is there to reach out to high school students than using social media? Students can get the latest updates, provide input, and get interviewed through Blockbuster Blast’s Instagram: @bhsnewswriting.  They also encourage readers to participate in the online polls, submit art and creative writing to the Dominant Voice, “like” the stories, and let them know about potential story ideas. 

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