Here’s your monthly update, courtesy of those most involved in the projects:

Vox iPad app – Designing Vox for the iPad with ideas and techniques to share with the magazine industry. – Kristin Kellogg

September report: We presented mockups (in pdf form) of the Vox app to members of the magazine faculty to get their feedback. They signed off on the idea of launching in stages (having a basic version of the app with department content) then adding more features later on. Also agreed that we would make the app using real text, instead of having every page be an entire image (doing the whole thing as an image makes the file size huge — we felt this would be impractical for a weekly). Overall, everyone seemed OK with the look of the app. I’m basing this off the style guide of the print edition, with some modifications. The plan is to navigate the app by swiping (to go between pages) or clicking on a section icon at the bottom of the screen. Each department will have a landing page, functioning as a mini-TOC listing the stories contained in this section (so you don’t have to swipe through — you can click directly on the link from here). The navigation icons also function to let you know where you are within the app — it indicates which section you’re in and goes in order of the pages in the app.

Also worked with Noah to make sure we’re on the same page about what’s possible for the app, from a programming perspective. We should be able to pull in Twitter feeds and allow commenting between the app and the site, which is exciting news.

October plans: I’m revising the design of the app. We’ve agreed that we want the layout to change depending on if it’s in portrait or landscape view. I’m working on creating templates that can accommodate this. The tricky part is keeping about the same amount of text on the screen in either orientation (although it’s probably unlikely that users will be flipping the iPad back and forth within stories, I think it’s still a good goal to have). I need to look into different font combinations. For example, in the current mockup, I’m using the print magazine’s body copy font. This may not be the best choice for screen reading, so will need to look into other options. The body copy is my primary concern — the fonts for the display type seem to have translated pretty well to screen.

Launch date: Week of Nov. 15

CMYK (The CoMo You Know) — The Columbia Missourian’s community encyclopedia — Laura Johnston

September update: Most of the month was spent trying to determine what software would be best suited for publication. Nothing was settled yet and that issue remains a hurdle to getting this launched.

Chris Carmody and I have divided the editing work so that most of the entries will be verified and vetted in time for the publication launch date.  We’ll be joined in our work by graduate student Erin McNeill, an interactive copy editor who is doing this as part of her graduate component in the 4406 course.

Our goal is to create some consistency of style and voice for the entries, as well as to make sure these entries are edited in such a way as to stay relevant long after their initial publish date.

October plans: Editing the 140+ entries and assigning others where we find gaps in content.

We hope to have most of the entries edited by Oct. 22, which gives us another week to tweak and format for publication. Some of the entries that we feel are necessary for the initial launch (think Darwin Hindman bio) will be completed by my 4400 section. Others might be parceled out to 4406 students or to a courses taught by Mike Jenner or Clyde Bentley. We’ll also try to capture some of the topics that are packages in Django, so that entries for the SWAT raid and the Youzeum, to name a few,  are included.

Launch date: Oct. 3

Interactive copy editing – Creating a new job description for copy editors while restructuring the copy editing course. – Nick Jungman

Update: This is mostly working. I have some evidence that we’re accomplishing at least some of our goals with the transition, and I promise to blog separately about those in short order. I think we’re finally reaching a point in the semester when the student copy editors have considerable confidence and expertise, and that’s going to enable me and all the faculty news editors to step back and assess how we’re really doing, and where we need to go from here. For now, I’ll say that there remain no major hangups, which is surprising the hell out of us. We continue to tweak the schedule, and it remains clear that we are short on TA help on the interactive side, but this is just a little uncomfortable, not crippling. The student copy editors clearly embrace some of the interactive aspects of their new role. I think they are all now able to post updates to our social networks and manage comment boards. Several have taken the initiative to embed simple surveys in stories that ask a simple question. As the desk proves capable, it’s clear there is much more we could do in this department.

As for the copy editing class, the students have all explored the differences between online and print display type and are, for the most part, thinking routinely about search keywords when they write it. We’ve covered some basic HTML and how to edit HTML for errors. They’ve done some exploring in our Google Analytics for the site. We’ve begun to discuss some changes in our techniques for linking out from stories (more on this very soon). Everyone has reported back to the class on an interactive project from professional online media, and we’ve discussed the lessons these might hold for our desk here.

For October: We need to find more interactive tools for copy editors to deploy. We’ll be looking to broaden our repertoire of free, embeddable interactive widgets. We need to be more systematic about using those tools, rather than opportunistic. The class will turn its attention to that, as well as get back to basics a bit. We’ve gone far afield from some of the traditional editing we normally teach in that class, and I realize I need to buckle down and return to it.

Missourian ethics – Creating event(s) around proposed ethics policies on conflicts of interest and “un-publishing” of content — Schneller

September update: Held SPJ-sponsored converation with students about social networking and ethics and handed out packets that included mechanism for written feedback.

October plans: Generate some sort of summary from the SPJ session, compile whatever written feedback is received and make a list of key questions raised by students.

Still waiting to hear from the JGSA about holding a similar session with graduate students. Consider another SPJ-sponsored session, perhaps with a focus on business conflicts (would invite Banken, Pickens, etc.)
Expand outreach, even with informal conversations, with others inside and outside the school.
Make inquiry into the creation of a student survey, perhaps for capstone classes, that would focus on social networking and business conflicts.

Launch date: by end of November

Print design and production — Giving ownership of the print edition to print designers (and the design class) — Jake Sherlock

September update: We’ve transitioned well from start-of-the-year mode to a comfortable zone. Unfortunately, I think we’re getting a little too comfortable in our work lately, and it’s time to pump up the intensity. Print will be rolling out some print-only and print-driven features this next month. We’ll be featuring a daily fact on the front page as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month (the first one ran Monday). We’re taking Mary Daly’s recent challenge of “how do we make print more interactive” by coming up with a weekly news quiz that would reward readers who keep up on Missourian stories (or, as we’ve dubbed it, subjecting the city to the same types of quizzes students in 2100 have to take). We hope to work with the advertising department to secure a sponsorship for the quiz.

We also have a fun concept in the works to celebrate Halloween this year. Stay tuned for that one.
Also, Bruce Moore in the circulation department reports that single-copy sales of Friday editions are up by a factor of 3.5 or 4, which he attributes to the big superteasers we’ve been running to promote Tiger Kickoff. I hope
to get Bruce more involved with single-copy sales reports — those could be a good harbinger of what news plays well for single-copy buyers.
Lastly, we’re finding ourselves in the position of having some very tight papers recently because of high ad sales. Certainly, this is a good problem to have, but it does create a challenge for giving readers a full report with adequate presentation space. I plan to be proactive in making requests for extra space (i.e. taking the paper up to 20 pages) as situations warrant.  You’ll see that with the Sunday, Oct. 3 edition to accommodate extra coverage of Roots ‘N’ Blues.

Mobile Missourian — content development and distribution – Katherine Reed

September report: AP’s White Label app was a non-starter (poor customer service) Discussions with Handmark began optimistically; the company embraced the idea of a “vertical” app for the Missourian that would be focused entirely on sports for now. But the proposal sent doesn’t match the discussions.

I asked three advanced reporting students — Joan Niesen, Lenny Goldman and Dieter Kurtenbach — to download and use the existing applications and give me feedback about them. Joan has a Blackberry, so she tested Mizzou Game Tracker Mobile, the only app she could find in the store that had anything to do with Mizzou sports. She said it was pretty “bare bones” and has no news, per se. Lenny tested Mizzou Mobile on his iPhone and found that it crashed all the time, especially its live streaming feature.

7450 projects: One group under my supervision with Clyde’s help is surveying students at MU, Columbia College and Stephens College about their mobile phone use for news and other information. Another group is researching consumer awareness of QR codes and will test a premium on one “captive audience” group.

October goals
: Formulating a counter-offer to Handmark after consultation with Tom and Dan.
More research on mobile sports apps.
More research on payment models if we decide to charge a nominal fee for the application.
Discuss possible partnerships for marketing a sports application. Is this likely to be solely the Missourian’s responsibility? If so, how will we accomplish this?

Junit™ – Creating a semantic Web platform for newspaper publishing with compatibility to print and Web 2.0. — Tom Warhover

September update: Still lots of behind-the-scenes stuff but nothing by way of firm delivery date. Rob, Kristin and Kristen have continued to answer questions as they come up, primarily from the programmers in India and Republic of Georgia.

Oct. plans: Continued monitoring.

Launch date: Six weeks after delivery of software from Junit Inc.