RAW Expo 2017: Evolution of The Cornell Daily Sun

An Interactive Experience — in collaboration with Andrei Kozyrev, Karly Krasnow, Angela Lee, Louis Liu and Juhwan Park

At the Event

Introduction

The Cornell Daily Sun, established in 1880, is the oldest, continuously independent college newspaper. Our goal is to provide comprehensive coverage and spark thought-provoking conversations amongst our readers through a rich storytelling experience, regardless of the medium. The Sun has long published exclusively on print, but in recent decades, we have adapted to the digital space by posting online around-the-clock, curating photo galleries, editing videos, developing interactive features, publishing on a weekly Snapchat channel, and more.

Anything we publish undergoes a rigorous editing process involving staff with a wide range of skills. Many students never get to learn about the processes behind our most widely viewed posts and the only time others have the opportunity to hear about everything we do is during information sessions.

The Sun has 16,500 followers on Facebook, 23,400 followers on Twitter, and 4,807 followers on Instagram. As the 135th Editor in Chief, I thought it was time to give our audience a taste of what we do and to spark more interest in the role of journalism today through a public exhibition at RAW Expo, an annual event for campus organizations to showcase the creative processes behind their work.


Our goal of being comprehensive, creative, and honest storytellers has remained constant, even if the platforms through which we fulfill this responsibility are always changing.

This was the message we wanted people to walk away with after participating in our exhibition. Our plan was to display various examples of our work, representing The Sun during different stages of its life. Editors would be stationed around the exhibition to walk visitors through each component.

The Opener

We printed a large poster to lay on our table for our opening activity. The colors and text are bold to intentionally draw our visitors’ attention to the questions, and the short guessing challenges are meant to engage people in a fun way. Whenever a group of people finished guessing, we would provide them with the answers and some background information. We wanted to prime our visitors to consider the timeless importance of consuming accurate and quality reporting, especially now, with an increasing number of misleading headlines and inaccuracies. During the showcase, people who stopped by would work together or take bets while trying to guess the answers, which helped cultivate a collaborative and lighthearted environment.

Can You Guess? * (answers on the bottom)

Print

The publication we chose was our 4/20 joke edition of the year(only the wrap contains joke material). The cover is a parody of our website with joke headlines, while the inside contains our real paper of the day (~16 pages). Besides the fact that it was a fun addition to our exhibition, it also served as a good transition between our print and web products.

Two front pages for our joke issue. Left: Actual front page story, Right: Joke issue front page

Digital

Although the web infrastructure for interactive articles did not exist at the time of the showcase, I wanted to prototype what an online feature article would look like. To make something like that would involve a spectrum of skills; so not only reporters and editors, but also web designers, artists and developers. This particular prototype is hosted on GitHub pages and served as a model of what we aimed for in terms of digital journalism. (Now, our digital projects can be viewed at http://projects.cornellsun.com)

Screenshots of the prototype

Video

There are many ways to tell stories through digital means, hence our multimedia department. Videography was still fairly new space for us at that time, but such a powerful medium for combining imagery, sound, and narration to appeal to a viewers’ senses that we started to focus on it much more. We use our videos to demonstrate the power and urgency present in a rally or protest, the beauty of campus installations and fashion shows, the incredible individuals at Cornell, and more. These are a couple of videos that were played on a TV screen next to our exhibition:

A short documentary on the Cornell Fashion Collective Show
In-depth profile on a student who lives in a solar-powered bus

Business

Journalism is a crucial public service, but in order to carry out this responsibility, publications still need a lot of financial support. More people are consuming news through their electronic devices — while this means we can take advantage of the digital space to explore more immersive ways to tell stories, it has financial implications because a good portion of revenue still comes in the form of print advertising. One area that people don’t think much about is how we support ourselves financially, but the business team is our financial backbone — they are responsible for sustaining our revenue. Taking advantage of our team of photographers, they started a photo composite business that offers campus organizations quality photos at a much lower price than other local businesses. Photographers would receive a share of the profit, and the rest would go towards The Sun. We had a slide deck ready at our table, as well as a demo of the photo composite website.

Wrapping Up

This was the first public installation we designed for The Sun, and it was truly eye-opening. It was meant to be a learning experience for those who visited our booth, but we also learned a lot in the making of the exhibition, as well as from the conversations we had with our visitors. Many people were surprised to learn about how we arrived at our final products, and we even incentivized a few visitors to consider joining the organization. We will definitely be designing more of these in the future and continue learning from both members of The Sun and those who support us from anywhere.

Signup Poster we made for the event

Thanks for visiting :)

* Answers to the Activity:

Fake Headline: Target to discontinue sale of Holy Bible // Origin of fake news: Macedonia // Two of these are true: 1 & 2