Muleskinner merges publications

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By LEAH WANKUM

Managing Editor

When I became managing editor of the Muleskinner, I effectively took on one newspaper and two websites – the Muleskinner, muleskinner.net and digitalBURG. com. Both publications are run by the same staff out of the same newsroom in the Wood Building at the university.

It’s time for a change.

The Muleskinner’s primary website is now digitalBURG.com.

DigitalBURG was donated to the university and we began operating the site in 2006. Several years ago, the Muleskinner lost control of its primary website, muleskinner.com when another entity purchased the domain. So, while digitalBURG already had a strong following in the community for local news, the Muleskinner’s adviser, Matt Bird-Meyer, wanted to bring back a site dedicated to Muleskinner and the campus community. Three years ago, muleskinner.net was born.

That’s proven to be a cumbersome and confusing arrangement.

He also told me of a time when the Muleskinner staff consistently went off campus to report the news in the Warrensburg community for the Muleskinner. That was back before digitalBURG even existed, when the Muleskinner had already established its brand in the community as a student-run newspaper housed at the university. Now, digitalBURG has established its own solid but separate readership from that of the Muleskinner. Furthermore, digitalBURG has branded itself in the community as a reliable news source in Warrensburg. We don’t want to lose that.

At some point after the donation, Muleskinner editors and reporters stopped going off campus for stories but instead left it to digitalBURG editors and reporters (if you recall, they are usually the same students).

What is the Muleskinner, and what is the digitalBURG? The Muleskinner is first and foremost, the only student-run newspaper that serves the campus community and the Warrensburg community. Our goal now is to make sure that our readers understand that digitalBURG is not a separate publication but simply the Muleskinner’s primary website.

The next step for us is to promote the rebranding of digitalBURG as the Muleskinner’s website. And we have an excellent staff to promote this branding and beef up community reporting.

My news editor, Steven Spears, is a dedicated reporter willing to broaden his horizons. My features editor, Andrea Lopez, is our strongest features reporter who last year partnered with Austan Jones to create iCentral, a Web show for the Muleskinner. Andrea also recently completed an internship with KMBC-TV 9 News, so she can draw from that experience to expand our coverage.

My sports editor Alex Agueros is an accomplished reporter whose many talents surpass sports coverage. My design editor, Jacque Flanagan, started on as a regular contributor and, through her dedication and hard work, she earned her position to design our advertisements as well as design and lay out the paper each week.

Through her integrity as a regular contributor, especially from creating and maintaining “Faces of UCM” each week, I promoted Bethany Sherrow to assistant news editor. Finally, I’ve taken on Brandon Bowman as my new photo editor who has already proven his talent with multiple photo submissions last year and some freelance work on digitalBURG.com this summer. We also have a growing digital media production program with students who desire to become media professionals.

Personally, I learned quite a lot from my own experiences during my summer internship at the Sedalia Democrat, especially from my colleague and mentor Nicole Cooke, a UCM and Muleskinner alumna. I can tap into my new knowledge to improve community reporting at the Muleskinner and share campus and local news with the rest of the community who might not have access to print copies of the Muleskinner.

We will continue to circulate the weekly paper around campus and several places around town, including many downtown businesses, Western Missouri Medical Center, Express Tan, Hastings, Bi-Lo Country Mart, Woods, Traditions, Trails Regional Library and Swisher Skyhaven Airport.

I am fully confident that these changes to the Muleskinner’s branding will improve our news coverage and help us to better serve the community in delivering news with accuracy, credibility and professionalism. However, I would greatly appreciate feedback from the community. Feel free to contact me by phone at 660-543-4050, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @leahwankum.