Outlook newspaper goes full digital, online


Scott Turner, KP News

Outlook Editor In Chief Malory Richards works with Sam Brendel, managing editor, and other staff recently during class at Peninsula High School. The popular school paper has transformed into a new digital format. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP News

When Andrew Hosford arrived at Peninsula High School in September, he had a mandate from Principal Tim Winter: take The Outlook, the school’s legendary student newspaper, online.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Hosford is Peninsula’s new journalism teacher. He had already put together an award-winning online paper at Sequim High School and Winter, who knows Hosford’s father, wanted to try the same thing at PHS.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is to stay up with the current industry standard,” Winter said. “That’s not to say that printed newspapers are going to be completely gone. But I think there’s value in having our students working online.”

But The Outlook has a long, rich history as a printed newspaper.

“I think it’s been a printed paper for about 60 years and it has won awards just about every year,” Hosford said. “They have this incredible tradition and if you go into the old classroom, you’ll see hundreds of awards around the thing.”

Hosford thinks it’s an advantage that he hasn’t been part of that tradition.

“I don’t know the history of the whole thing. And going online, we’re kind of ripping that whole Band-Aid off and starting anew,” he said. “I could come in without feeling intimidated or pressured to do what they’d always done in the past and could do what I had to do to take this online completely.”

He acknowledged that change is difficult for many people. “But the cool thing about teenagers is that they really get racing on it once they believe in it. And I think these kids believe in it,” he said.

Some of Hosford’s current students have siblings who were in the old program, and several are already strong journalists.

“They want to be part of it no matter what –– whether it’s online or printed or whatever –– they just want to keep the tradition going,” he said.

Malory Richards, student editor-in-chief of The Outlook, thinks the new online system is a good thing.

“It’s a really big transition for us to be almost entirely online,” she said. “But I think this change is good. It’s pushing us into the modern world. I think getting the website is going to help us reach our student body a lot faster –– which has been a problem for us in the past because we’ve covered stories that happened three or four weeks ago. And now we’ll be able to publish stories that happened a day ago,” she said.

Richards, 17, is referring to the fact that The Outlook was printed every six weeks. That meant that some news –– sports scores, for instance –– was more than a month old when it was published.

Hosford said that it’s not so much about what’s going away, but it’s about all the new opportunities, and that’s what the kids are really embracing.

“We’re speaking their language and we’re using their technology. We’re on phones; we’re on computers; we’re doing social media,” he said.

That means the medium can now reach a much broader audience.

“We can have people anywhere in the world reading this thing. If they’re connected to PHS, we can stay connected to them because we don’t have to mail them a newspaper anymore. They can just check online and see what we’re doing,” Hosford added.

The switch from print to online wasn’t just about bringing the paper into the 21st century, however. There was also a cost issue. The levy failed and schools’ budgets have been cut drastically in the past few years.

According to Hosford, it cost about $10,000 every year to print The Outlook, compared to the $1,000 startup cost for the online version. “And every year after this, we can run it for $100 because it’s already set up and ready to go,” he said.

And the online paper can be updated daily with sports scores, features on the latest movies and breaking news. There are also videos and info-graphics, and soon the online paper will be selling advertising.

“That’s where it’s all happening –– on our website, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and other social media,” Hosford said. “The kids have just taken this idea and just run with it. It’s awesome. And we’re just getting started.”

To view the new online version of The Outlook, go to phsoutlook.com.