The problem with weekly newspapers, according to The College Reporter Editor-in-Chief Kevin Zawacki '10, is that breaking news often becomes old news by press time.
For Franklin & Marshall's student newspaper, consider it a problem solved.
The newspaper launched its own Web site in September, providing anyone with access to the Internet an opportunity to catch the latest news from around campus.
The Web site includes everything contained in the print edition (published Mondays) and more, including interactive features and multimedia.
"We've always had a problem when something happens on Tuesday or Wednesday, because in the past we've had to wait until Monday to print it," Zawacki says. "But last week, we finished the H1N1 influenza story on Wednesday and posted it online immediately."
Zawacki worked with the previous editor-in-chief, Ray Subers '09, to begin the process of creating the site. The newspaper is part of the College Media Network, which is powered by College Publisher software. The network hosts the newspaper for free and trains its members to use the programs.
"I'm thrilled," Zawacki says. "When I first got started, I didn't know anything about HTML. But this is simple, and it allows you to place the text without much problem."
The Web site has a series of interactive features for its users, including polls and comment boxes. It also provides text alerts for readers who want instant notification of breaking news. "But there's still a lot of room for evolution," Zawacki says.
Colin Poindexter '13 serves as the newspaper's Web editor, organizing the site so other editors can submit stories.
News Editor Samantha LiTrenta '11 thinks students will take advantage of the newspaper's newfound accessibility. "Someone might be sitting in Jazzman's and say, 'Did you see that story in The College Reporter? Here's my computer, let's look at it,'" she says. "It also gives a more interactive aspect to the paper. You could always write letters, but didn't always have time to write 400 words. Now you can just leave a quick comment if you want.
"If we get something wrong in a story in the print edition, we can correct it on the Web site," says LiTrenta. "We also think it's excellent for advertisers because they can reach more students."
When breaking news develops, Zawacki hopes the College community turns to the new virtual home of its student newspaper.
"Whenever something big happens," he says, "we want to be the go-to source."