Mountaineer newspaper passes digital milestone

As the 2020-2021 school year draws to its much anticipated conclusion, it leaves in its wake a year marked by adaptation. Nearly every institution and activity that formed the tangled web of interactions we considered normalcy had to be altered.

Similarly, The Echo had to adapt to this year by replacing its physical newspaper with a website. 

Before COVID-19 changed the world, The Echo existed as a print newspaper that ran once a month – usually from November through June. Although there were some largely unsuccessful efforts to introduce online elements to the paper, having it be physically available in the school proved to be the status quo. Nothing changed for decades. 

But when preparations began last August for the start of a new school year in a fully remote model, it became apparent that a digital paper would be the only way forward. So, in the spirit of the year, we adapted. 

Going from publishing between eight and ten stories once a month to trying to consistently output content as often as possible proved to be a major transition. Even using “content” as a term was something we never did until this year. 

As time passed and we became more comfortable with the website, trying to diversify the material became a new push. Adding more media elements to The Echo eventually led to the creation of a podcast.

The podcast is probably the single thing we are most proud of as a board this year. With its addition to the paper, it felt like we were taking advantage of the new format and making the fledgling website better than its physical predecessor. Hosting it also brought us closer together and learning more about our guests, be they teachers or students, turned out to be a lot of fun. The Echo Podcast – “caused” by the pandemic – became a truly positive experience.

Finally, as we prepare to put the site into hibernation for the summer, we reflect on what we either wish we did differently this year or hope to see happen in the near future.

For instance, our sports coverage – limited when we published once a month – still lacked content.  There could be more world news and current events on our website.  In short there’s still a lot of potential for growth in the student newspaper.

Overall, though, starting the website ended up being an eye-opening learning experience and we’re proud of the results. The Echo did not just survive the 2020-2021 school year – it bloomed.