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Huntley journalism students plan to start paper online

ALGONQUIN – Huntley High School journalism students are prepared to launch the Voice online within the next two months.

At Thursday’s Consolidated School District 158 meeting, junior Michael Geheren said the students behind the Voice have been developing the proposal since January.

The board met for the Committee of the Whole meeting and discussed the proposal, set for a vote at the next Sept. 15 meeting.

Once the board officially approves the proposal, the Huntley Voice is expected to go online either in late October or early November. Before then, Geheren said, a “soft launch” is slated by the end of the month.

Geheren, the online editor-in-chief of the Voice, has been pushing for the school’s student newspaper website, huntleyvoice.com, since his freshman year.

“It’s going to add a lot more work, but it will add a different aspect to the program,” said the 16-year-old from Huntley. “It’s vital for the journalism program to do this.”

Dennis Brown, the faculty adviser to the Voice, said the students are not just interested in getting the online edition “off the ground” but to deliver a quality online news source.

The website will enable students to publish stories and photos frequently and in a timely basis. Currently, the print edition of the Voice is published once a month, eight times a year.

“We’re more like a magazine,” Brown said.

But with the speed and adaptability the web program offers, student journalists will have the opportunity to cover more school events, such as sports, and tackle breaking news.

The print edition of the Voice would continue to be published once a month. Students will continue to sell ads and run fundraisers to support the costs of publishing the newspaper in print and online. The printing costs about $1,500 a month. Wordpress will serve as the content management system, Kapost is offering its content sharing software for free, and the hosting service will be provided by BlueHost Inc. for $85 a year, the students’ proposal detailed.

Superintendent John Burkey and Chief Academic Officer Mike Moan endorsed the proposal. With today’s proliferation of media platforms and digital tools, going online is necessary for a top-notch journalism program, they said.

“There just isn’t any point in only preparing kids for print journalism,” Burkey said.

Geheren addressed concerns from some board members about inappropriate or potentially libelous online comment postings following articles about staff as well as students.

“Ultimately, we’re still dealing with students here,” Paul Troy said.

As the online editor-in-chief, Geheren will be the gatekeeper on comments. He’ll be responsible for reviewing every comment before it shows up online.

“We need someone to be accountable for that issue and it’s going to be me,” he said.

If You Go:

District 158 School Board
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15
Where: 650 Academic Drive, Algonquin

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