The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Christopher Broom

​BROOM: A digital-first paper

I have paid particular attention to the digital elements of the paper including the mobile applications, Twitter feeds, multimedia efforts including video and the website among others. They have all changed over time, seemingly growing in fits and starts.

​BROOM: Braving the storm

I have written frequently about what The Cavalier Daily, and any collegiate paper, should be. The students who create The Cavalier Daily have worked to be a source of information, a place for our community to learn what it needs to begin a conversation and a place to have that conversation. Again, I have criticisms about some of the specifics. The website still needs to be cleaned up: the search tool is ineffective, and it’s difficult to find articles or columns more than about 10 days or two weeks old.

​BROOM: Making better use of the Opinion section

The last couple of weeks in The Cavalier Daily’s Opinion pages have included a lot of inside baseball. That is to say, there have been several pieces that seem written mostly for those who work for The Cavalier Daily. Ashley Spinks offered columns in the last two weeks that are strongly critical of the Managing Board.

​BROOM: Pushing the envelope

It doesn’t seem to me that if the management of a publication decides, on its own, to pull stories that aren’t meant to be factual in the first place that there is any free press issue to worry about. The same is true about free speech. The Managing Board decided to pull the pieces and apologize after they heard from enough others that what they published was, in fact, offensive because they didn’t want to be offensive and hoped apologizing would make that clear and help heal the wounds they’d caused.

​BROOM: April Fools’ is no excuse

The Cavalier Daily staff has damaged the trust readers had in the paper. The main point of the paper is to be an independent voice at the University of Virginia. The paper can’t be that if no one trusts it and if no one is paying attention. The April Fools edition of the paper has done harm to the Cavalier Daily and to its readers.

​BROOM: Brand link will help The Cavalier Daily

Indeed, whatever risk there may be that sponsored content could damage the trust of readers in the independence and objectivity of the news and editorial writing, that risk is clearly outweighed by the certainty that losing financial independence and seeking money from the University itself would almost completely negate any possibility of readers believing that the paper remained objective where the University was concerned.

​BROOM: Exceeding expectations

While I think the coverage, overall, has been very good, I do have some concerns. Primarily, I’m struck by the fact that the core of the reporting on this story has been done by two members of the Managing Board.

​BROOM: Distinguishing pieces and increasing links

Effective labeling is especially important in the digital space, where the lines between sections and types of pieces within sections are more easily blurred. In the current website design, sections are labeled in the navigation bar and in text at the top of each article. This seems reasonable for both the News and Opinion sections where the type of piece is then clear. In other sections, though, the readers are left to sort out for themselves whether they are reading an objective news report or an Opinion column.

BROOM: Creating a diverse newsroom

Other areas in which diversity is important cut across the student experience at the University. From financial aid, housing and food choices available on Grounds to how student health is set up there are innumerable topics that affect the day-to-day life of people here. It is critical that people who have different life experiences and different expectations and needs contribute to thinking about stories and questions on these topics.

BROOM: Improving election coverage

The distinction between the print and digital formats was really highlighted with this issue. The print issue was easily navigated and the graphics showing how various parts of student government function were interesting. The problem I ran into is that I couldn’t locate most of them online.

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