Letters From The Editors: Welcome to the wonderful world of web

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Letters From The Editors: Welcome to the wonderful world of web

Justin Curto and Jena Smith

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Welcome to Letters From The Editors. As the first ever editors-in-chief of Mill Valley News online, this is where we (Justin “J-Curt” Curto and Jena “Doesn’t have a cool nickname” Smith) will let you know a bit about our experiences overseeing this website and leading the JAG and JagWire staffs. Along with senior Elizabeth “Liz” Fleming, our assistant editor, and senior Michaela “Mic” Jackson, our social media editor, we’re the J-room’s leaders of all things web.

In the words of past JagWire editors-in-chief Jill Applegate and Sarah Darby, we’re writing this blog “for our own entertainment and for the sake of our sanity, as well as the intent to show our readers another side of the newspaper” (well, news website). So, if you want to read more about the craziness and chaos that comes with being editors-in-chief of a student-run news website, look no further.

Over the summer and throughout the first few weeks of school, we’ve been working around the clock (not really, but it feels like that) to prepare ourselves and the JAG and the JagWire staffers for the upcoming year of creating content for Mill Valley News. After spending countless hours in front of computer screens and countless dollars on Starbucks drinks, we’re finally ready to get into the rhythm of web weeks, beats and all that comes with making posts on Mill Valley News. (Don’t worry, we’ll explain what all of those things are next week.)

The first task we took on as editors-in-chief was a daunting one: redesigning this website. We had talked about a redesign for months, but didn’t actually get around to changing things up until after we were both back from multiple trips to and from Shawtown. When we were finally able to meet up, we got right to work, spending the next few days picking fonts (a process in and of itself — Jena may or may not have shed tears out of frustration); adding, taking away and changing features on our home and story pages; and creating a new logo and banner. Hopefully you noticed some of our changes, but if not, we’ve explained them below.

The Thinglink above doesn’t quite cover everything we changed on the website, but it summarizes the main additions. You should check it out.

From there, we created Mill Valley News’ first-ever online staff policies and staff manual (themed around the works of the legendary Aubrey Drake Graham, aka Drake). The manual explained everything from what everyone on the Mill Valley News editorial board does to how staff members can create web posts. We also posted some of our policies online, for your reading enjoyment.

This week sort of acted as an official end to our preparation, because we presented our web changes to the JAG staff on Monday and Wednesday. They’re now working on creating content for our first official week of coverage on Mill Valley News, and we’re beyond excited. We have yet to present to the JagWire staff, but we’ll tackle that when the time comes.

Being the first-ever online editors-in-chief is going to be quite the learning experience for us. We want to share that with you through a short, semi-sentimental lesson we learned each week. So, without further ado …

Lessons of the week:

J-Curt: This basically counts as my lesson learned from late May until this week, but I figured out that preparation is just as important as execution. If Jena, Liz, Mic and I had just jumped straight into doing things for the web, it would’ve been super stressful and hectic. Now that we have most things set in place, I feel much more confident that our staffs will be able to make rockin’ online content, and, in turn, the journalism department will be able to have a rockin’ news website.

Jena: Since being appointed Mill Valley News editor-in-chief, I’ve come to realize that communication is everything. I’ve spent more time talking to J-Curt in the last four months than I’ve spent talking to my own family. Being on the same page is so important to being successful, confident leaders in the journalism room.

That’s all … for now.

Seniors Justin “J-Curt” Curto and Jena “Doesn’t have a cool nickname” Smith are the editors-in-chief of Mill Valley News online. They appreciate captioned photos, categorized and tagged stories, staff members who don’t text about web assignments at 11 p.m., teachers and students who talk about things they read on Mill Valley News and all things multimedia.

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