New journalism app available for Paly students

An application made to aggregate all of Paly’s written journalism content into an easily accessible mobile platform was recently  released. The app was created by Chris Proctor, a former teacher, and a team of 6 Paly students on Sept. 26.

The app pulls together stories from all Paly student publications and provides a discussion forum open only to students.

Proctor is a former English teacher at Paly and a current PhD student in Education working at Stanford’s transformative learning technologies laboratory.

This application is the result of a research collaboration between all the Paly journalism publications and Proctor.

“The two purposes [of the app] were to distribute the stories so more people could read them and then also to cultivate stronger reader engagement and participation and discussion around the stories,” Proctor said.

Proctor believes that a major issue plaguing journalism in the digital era is the lack of reader participation and engagement in discussing the issues at hand.

However, he feels that his app will serve as an effective step on fixing this problem.

“When you look at the numbers on what young people are doing on Facebook, on Instagram, [many] publications distribute their content through those channels so part of it is maybe people feeling that there’s not one coherent forum where their voice actually will matter,” Proctor said. “Facebook is not designed to encourage users to feel like they are part of a social sphere in the way that Paly students are encouraged through ASB and the publications to feel like their voices matter and to feel like they’re part of something bigger.”

As a result of the lack of engagement, many readers of student publications take a passive stance during their consumption of news, and a variety of different opinions end up being unheard.

“I think often when we’re browsing online we’re more in a stance of a consumer,” Proctor said. “Like, if something sort of catches my interest for a moment I’ll linger with it until the next thing draws me away and there’s not this sort of sense that you have something at stake in what’s being said or that your voice will matter to somebody.”

My hope is that really strong journalism programs will partner with computer science software developers.

Chris Proctor

Former Paly Teacher

Proctor hopes that this app will open up student discussion and create an environment that promotes feedback and debate.

“We can watch how do people choose to access the content,” Proctor said. “I’m curious to see who’s looking at comments and sort of any patterns we see in what stories get the most comments. I would say the very straightforward goal would be to get more comments.”

However, this app is only a pilot test that will run for just a couple of weeks. Proctor hopes that if the launch of this project is successful, students will take this application as an example to continue developing the social sphere of Paly journalism’s online engagement.

“We didn’t want any of the other publications to feel threatened, to feel like we’re releasing another medium that was going to reshape their media landscape,” Proctor said. “Probably like a month from now or so we’ll say is the sunset of the app, but my hope is that really strong journalism programs will partner with the computer science software developers and that you all could actually take ownership of this app and keep developing it.”

The app is currently only available for iOS on the App Store. If it is well received by the journalism community, an Android version could potentially be created.

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