The Daily Forty-Niner unveiled last week its re-designed Web site, now located at www.Daily49er.com. The Forty-Niner’s older Web site, jokingly referred to by some of the staff as the “Best of 1998” due to its outdated look and inefficient design, will link to the new version but still be available for archival research.
The new Web site, however, is still under construction, and additional sections such as a history of the paper and staff bios will be added and completed as the summer progresses.
“We are still making changes to the Web site, but I think it’s coming along and we hope the campus will enjoy it,” said Starr T. Balmer, editor in chief of the Daily Forty-Niner.
The server space and design templates were provided by College Publisher, a Boston-based technology and services company that provides Web publishing for over 450 publications nationwide. According to College Publisher’s Web site, it comprises the largest network of online student newspapers in the country.
Grumblings about the inefficiency of the previous version of the Web site were numerous in the newsroom, but until the spring of 2006, no steps were taken to fix the embarrassing online errors such as the misspelling of the Classifieds section as “Classifields,” broken links and an archaic online presence that did not keep up with the improvements made in the print version of the Daily Forty-Niner.
Toward the end of the 2006 spring semester, small steps such as a conference call with College Publisher and brainstorming ideas were made in order to complete the new Daily49er.com over the summer to be ready in time for the fall. It became the “summer project,” a vital step to legitimizing the Forty-Niner’s online presence for the future.
“As the new editor in chief, I want to bring in new things for the Daily Forty-Niner. Updating our Web site is probably one of the best things we could be doing so far,” Balmer said.
After finals ended and the summer began, journalism lecturer Amara Aguilar and members of the Forty-Niner editorial staff picked from different templates and created a color scheme based on Cal State Long Beach’s school colors.
What appears online now is the final result: Left-hand navigation complete with black and white colors and yellow highlights. New online features will eventually include interactive elements only available online such as audio clips and videos.
Reactions to Daily49er.com have been mostly positive.
“It is really the indication that the Forty-Niner is moving into an entirely new era, as it should,” said Journalism Department Chairman William Babcock. “We’re dealing with a time where students are looking to the Web for information. Any campus publication needs to know that and I think the Forty-Niner has done that in an impressive way.”
“I like the look of the new Web site,” said Jennifer Frehn, former Dig magazine managing editor and Daily Forty-Niner staff member. “I think students will find it more helpful and organized and the Forty-Niner will be able to include more stories and photos.” Dig magazine also plans to re-design its Web presentation in the future.
“The staff is off to a great start with the new Web site,” said Jamie Rowe, former Daily Forty-Niner editor in chief for the 2005-06 school year. “I hope to see it grow, becoming more interactive and rivaling national newspapers’ sites. I am concerned, however, about archives and the confusion of changing over to a new address may cause.”
The old online version of the Daily Forty-Niner, located on the www.csulb.edu server, has been in existence since 1994 and had had two designs before its present location at Daily49er.com.