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Student Journalist Spotlight: Bryan J. Roy, University of Arizona

October 6, 2009

Bryan J. Roy is aglow against an early nighttime sky.  The University of Arizona student journalist’s name is the most prominent feature of the metropolitan-themed graphic header on his Web site.  The portfolio site is an ode to his numerous (and varied!) journalistic accomplishments.  The 20-year-old’s most recent, and impressive, addition to the list: a fantastic redesign of the online Arizona Daily Wildcat.

Roy, the Wildcat‘s Web Director, chatted with me recently about the paper’s online reinvention and offers some advice for students seeking to chart a similar path to the online journalism promised land.

Write a six-word memoir of your Wildcat experience so far.

Good preparation. Great exposure. Best people.

How did the paper’s online reinvention play out?

Back in the mid-1990s, the Arizona Daily Wildcat was one of the first college newspapers to buy into this Internet fad. While we’ve faded and fallen behind the curve recently, it was my mission to not only redesign and brand a new online portal, but also change our workflow and way we deliver the news. Of course, there’s no way one single person or idea is going to change a newsroom — it takes a group effort to execute.

What was the toughest part of the experience?

Restructuring workflows are never easy. People are always set in their ways, and believe it or not, those ways aren’t faring too well in today’s information-feasting newsgetters. New this year: Section editors immediately received more duties. Copy editors upload the stories to the web. Our photo editors upload photos and slideshows. Reporters have shown interest in producing video clips to go along with their stories. There’s no easy way to tell somebody they have more responsibilities on top of their regular day-to-day operations. But there’s no easy way to practice journalism either.

Standout redesign memory.

Just the day we went live with our new design. Probably the closest thing to giving birth I’ll ever experience.

What new Web features do you envision being audience hits or journalistically successful?

I visit the Salary Database quite regularly. I doubt I’m alone. It’s cool to see how much our professors earn and where the school is spending our money. Of course our regular video reports adds another dimension to rich content, but the more in-depth enterprise pieces can definitely go viral. I redesigned the Web site this summer in order to best feature our content, photos and multimedia. So far, traffic-wise, it’s been a huge facelift and allows us to brand our product much better than most professional news organizations.

What advice do you have for j-students looking to up their own news outlets’ Web game?

Buy a BlackBerry and communicate with everyone around the clock. This summer my Dad asked me how many hours a week I’ll work with this new position. I laughed and said the Internet rarely turns off.  So be prepared to work your a** off.

What is the coolest part about being Web Director of a top college media outlet?

Having the resources that most real papers don’t even have. With the size of our newsroom and staff, there’s no limit as to what we can do. That, along with our market. Our campus of almost 40,000 is pretty big, but multiply that by the number of parents, alums and prospective students that are interested in the UA— that’s a pretty huge audience and a huge reason why a viable web presence is important. Dad loves reading the Police Beat.

You wake up in ten years. Where are you and what are you doing?

Boston.com editor-in-chief.

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