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NGJ: What’s Changing, and Your Role In It

by Connor Toohill | University of Notre Dame

F Posted in: College, Voices P Posted on: January 30, 2012
Connor Toohill Connor Toohill

If you’ve spent time on NextGen Journal before, you may notice that things look a little bit different today. Our Tech team’s been hard at work on some layout changes, and we’re proud of those. But we’re even more excited about the site-wide shifts that those changes represent.

The last 16 months have brought a lot of exciting developments- our team has grown from about 15 to over 180 staffers, reporters, editors, and contributors. That’s enabled us to cover major events in detail, from the death of Osama bin Laden to the debt ceiling debate to (more recently) the Iowa caucuses. Along the way, we’ve begun interviews with major figures- including Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, and Chris Van Hollen last semester alone- with questions coming from students across the country. We’ve even had the chance to talk about our coverage and our overall efforts in other outlets, like on MSNBC.

Our primary goal remains the same: to provide a platform for our generation, vaulting our voices, perspectives, and priorities into the national conversation. And of course, we want to continue featuring focused reporting, sharp opinion and analysis, and interviews with leading figures, held accountable to your questions.

As we continue developing and fine-tuning, we’ve kept those goals in mind. So many of the changes you might observe today, from our revamped masthead and navigation bar to the changes on our homepage, are intended to make NGJ cleaner, sharper, and easier to navigate. They line up with changes we’ve introduced throughout the site, especially to the article pages themselves, over the last few months.

Beyond that, though, we did have another major goal: engaging you. Up until now, too much of the conversation on NGJ has been one-dimensional- we publish our staff’s content, and encourage you to read it. From here on out, that’s not good enough. We want to broaden our platform- and make it your platform as well.

So when you click on a NGJ piece, don’t just read it- join the conversation. Point out something a writer may have missed, or mention why you agree or disagree. Or maybe respond to a comment that somebody else left earlier.¬†We’ve integrated with Facebook comments to make that process as seamless and familiar as possible. Plus, you can spread a great article on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, or Reddit with one click- or follow along with us and chime in with your thoughts.

You may also notice two new buttons across the top of the site- ‘Join our Team’ and ‘Make a Pitch.’ We consider these our ‘engagement buttons,’ and the first is simple enough. Have you ever thought that you might have a valuable perspective to add? Or maybe you’re a journalism major looking for some reporting experience? Click on that ‘Join our Team’ button and submit a quick application- we’re always looking to expand our network.

‘Make a Pitch’ is a little more vague, we know. But over the course of our time with NGJ, we’ve noticed that some of our most interesting and thought-provoking Voices pieces didn’t come from our staff at all- they were guest articles from outside students.

Maybe you have a really unique perspective on a particular issue, but feel too bogged down to write regularly. Or maybe something ¬†insightful pops into your mind, and you wish you could share it with a wider audience. Now you can: click on that button, and pitch a guest piece for us in a sentence or two. Or, if you want, you can write the whole thing and submit that. We’ll edit and publish the best of what we receive, and we hope to get to the point where we’re publishing dozens of these guest pieces each week. In other words, we hope to be a platform for your voice- and more broadly, the diverse voices of thousands of members of the ‘next generation.’

There’s more on the way as well. Anytime we line up major interviews, we’ll want you to chime in with possible questions we should use. The best way to keep up with that is to follow along on Twitter and Facebook. And we always welcome your comments, suggestions, and ideas.

But we think this is a critical step in expanding our conversation. Phase one was all about developing the platform- phase two’s about integrating you and students across the country.

There’s a lot coming up in the year ahead- some of which we can talk about here, and some of which we can only hint at for now. But you can be sure of this: it’s going to be an exciting time, and we look forward to having you along for the ride.

Connor Toohill Connor Toohill Connor Toohill is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NextGen Journal. He is a student at The University of Notre Dame.

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