There’s been a lot of discussion at college media conventions and on the College Media Advisers listserv about what we should do to compete with sites like BigLickU, SwoCol.com and The Loop that target our readers and advertisers.
Before we start trying to reinvent the wheel, let’s look at some college media sites that already take an integrated approach.
One of the oldest and yet still among the best is bruinwalk, a campus portal for UCLA. In addition to providing links to The Daily Bruin, UCLA TV, UCLA radio and several campus magazines, it offers social and academic networking, a campus calendar, professor reviews, student-to-student book trading, online file storage, and a marketplace of goods and services.
The site is run by Student Media UCLA and governed by a communications board representing a broad cross-section of the campus community, including undergraduate and graduate students, the administration, faculty, alumni and the media professions. According to the bruinwalk About page, the board “is entirely self-supporting. It receives no registration fees or other forms of public support. All of its revenues come from advertising sales in the media.”
Amazingly, it’s been around since 1998, long before Facebook and MySpace!
Another one to look at is InsideVandy at Vanderbilt University. In addition to offering news, features, commentary, photos, videos and other content produced by Vanderbilt student media, it allows members of the Vanderbilt community to create content and interact with one another.
"InsideVandy is built for community participation," the site explains on its About page. "Use it to debate, discuss and connect. Start a blog, post your photos, submit items to the community calendar. Comment on other people's content and create some of your own."
Though not as extensive, the Northern Star has long gone beyond the typical student newspaper Web site with a dining guide, a housing guide and free online marketplace. The Northern Star is also doing some neat stuff with video.
Is your college media organization doing something innovative? What other sites do you look to as models? Tell us about them by posting a comment.