Making digital work

By Abby Moutardier
IHSPA Student Board Member
New Albany High School

My school district, New Albany-Floyd County, has been on every possible schedule with the COVID-19 pandemic. We started the year off hybrid, went all virtual from late November through December, and have just started having students either attend all five days, or be fully virtual. 

Naturally, that has presented some challenges for the newspaper staff, The Blotter. The inconsistency has taken a toll on everyone, and we’ve had to restructure much of what we do. In previous years, The Blotter would print an issue every month except October and March, due to fall and spring breaks. This year, everything has been online, we’ve increased our social media presence, and last month we distributed our first digital issue. 

A digital issue was nothing like I expected it to be. This is my first year as editor-in-chief, and I had no idea how much work went into making sure everyone had perfect stories and visually appealing pages. With half the staff being exclusively virtual, that added the challenge of how they save the pages so my adviser and I can edit them. For the hybrid students, we had to find a way for pages to be accessed at home and in school. 

Oddly enough, the stress that came with digital was enough to make this year seem normal. The stress with doing a normal newspaper certainly helped connect the staff a bit more. In previous years, the newspaper was a family, but this year, there’s people on staff who haven’t stepped into the building. Additionally, since each person had their own page, each person’s unique style was showcased and almost served as a “get to know you.” 

Another positive that came with digital is the introduction of “Find the Bulldog.” For “Find the Bulldog,” I hide a small cutout of a bulldog somewhere in the “paper” and readers can find it, submit proof, and be entered in a raffle for a gift card. This certainly helped increase our readership, as there’s nothing high schoolers love more than a good competition. 

Going forward, I don’t know what newspaper will hold. We plan on doing another digital issue this year, but next year is where the questions come in. I miss print. I miss the smell of a fresh box of newspapers and the excitement of handing a teacher a stack to hand out to their students. Doing a digital paper also has its benefits, such as the gift of space, increased readership, and saving hundreds of dollars every month. Overall, I am super proud of my staff and the work we all put into our content.

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