Whitney High Student Media Not your everyday stories, but stories every day

This portfolio is designed to showcase some of our social media work in the 2019 school year from Whitney High Student Media in Rocklin, California. Learn more about our publications program here.

Let's start with Instagram, where we report daily from @detailsyearbook.

Our staff uses Instagram on a daily basis to capture spot news, feature students' unique experiences and report live from important events. The @detailsyearbook account has 1,968 followers and is entirely student-produced. Unlike many other student media programs, all staff members post to this account and have login/password credentials. We consider social media to be an essential component of our coverage as journalists.
To capture storytelling moments and provide context or details, we post complete captions and photo credits with each photo.
Action and reaction matter in every post, and we aim to showcase live sports coverage, in-class learning experiences, special events from clubs and organizations and life beyond school such as hanging out with friends or traveling on weekends. We aim for all-inclusive coverage across the platform and do a two-week critique as a class to analyze our coverage, AP Style in captions and use of composition techniques.
For sports action, we try to bring high-impact shots to our followers during the game with updates on the score as well, because not all of our student body is able to attend. For more play-by-play coverage, we use Twitter ... but we maximize the photo aspect on Instagram in order to make the most of the platform and its audience.

Another way we use social media is for updates on ongoing news stories that we report on through our website and print publications. For example, our teachers were going through contract negotiations and almost went on strike. During the conflict between the union and school district, teachers held rallies and did picketing and other activities outside of school time. We used social media to keep our followers connected, especially since teachers weren't supposed to talk about it with students. Even though Twitter is our more "newsy" platform we still showcase the hard news stories on Instagram as they happen. We know that different students relate to different platforms and our goal is to engage everyone somehow.

This Instagram post reports on RTPA picketing (continuous coverage connected to Whitney Update website).
Here's a key tweet from the teacher contract negotiations coverage. We tweeted the news of the settled contract before any other news outlet, mass email or public announcement. We try to include as many details as possible in the tweet itself and then as quickly as possible we post a full story on our website.
Up next, our Twitter feed.

With Twitter, we post from Whitney Update in a variety of ways, whether it's to drive traffic to our website, report breaking news, showcase performances, tease coverage on other platforms, ask questions or use followers as sources ... and more.

We use a series of slugs (like labels) so our followers know what kind of tweet it is. For example, we have slugs for slideshow, photo gallery, opinion, breaking news and reviews. Including a powerful image helps more people stop on the tweet and take action instead of continuing to scroll. The labels are a quick way to differentiate content.

Another way our staff uses Twitter is with short videos, whether it's to show a performance (like choir, band, dance, cheer) or to conduct a quick video interview as another way to showcase student perspectives.

We do a lot of standalone tweets, too. Some people may not read the story on our website or click on the link to the full slideshow, but they will still gain value from seeing a good photo with some kind of relevant info, which is why we make sure to identify everyone and answer as many of the 5W+H as possible in the tweet itself.
Of course we also use Twitter to link to regular stories on our news website, and we try to include a different photo than the one used with the story so readers get more variety.
Our followers look to us on Twitter for real-time updates on things that affect them. These tweets show our connection to California wildfires.
We don't duplicate content across platforms, but this Instagram post about the air quality on campus shows how we reported about the fires and smoke across different social media accounts. Each caption requires reporting and fact-checking because the story needs to hold up all by itself.

To engage readers and get a feel for which topics or issues matter to our students, we use Twitter to post quickie polls or to link to longer surveys.

Experimentation is a big part of Whitney High Student Media and what we practice as journalists, so that carries into our social media use, too. Not everything we do works, but we always try new ways of using social tools. This year we tried This-or-That Thursdays as a little poll to tie in fun topics, but we didn't get very many votes each week.

We also tried these "up this week" or "up today" graphics as a way to let our followers know what sports events or school activities were scheduled. We tried it for about three months, usually posting on Monday mornings.

From time to time, we use social media to raise awareness about elements of our media program as well, such as purchasing or picking up yearbooks, distribution day for each issue of the newsmagazine, ordering a senior tribute, meeting the senior portrait deadline or getting photographed for yearbook club photos.

One last social media example we want to showcase from 2018-19 is the creation of Wildcat Karaoke, which was a really fun YouTube experiment based on the popular Carpool Karaoke series with celebrities.

While the series ran on our Whitney Update YouTube channel, we made sure to cross-promote it on Twitter and Instagram. When trying something new we try to make sure to get as much traffic as possible so it catches on with our audience.

We also have Facebook and Snapchat (@whitneyupdate) over time have published stories and content on Pinterest, Tumblr and other social platforms. Because our student body mostly uses Instagram and Twitter, we chose to showcase those two social media areas most heavily in this portfolio. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions or suggestions any time! We maintain our accounts from August 1 to June 1 on a daily basis and check each account only periodically during summer break in order to reflect, check analytics, make changes, train new staff members and set goals for the next school year. Thank you for following!

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