Article by Nick DeMent | Owl Staff
Owl Media‘s staff celebrated the end of an era and the start of a new one at the official sendoff to Owl Magazine in HCC’S Blackbox Theatre on November 19, 2022.
2011 would see a change in HCC’s journalism publication, then a newspaper, called The Harford Owl. This was the year The Owl would undergo a transformation into Owl Magazine, with the fall season of 2011 bearing the birth of this new student driven project in the form of its first ever magazine issue.
2022 marks another milestone in this publication’s history, as Owl Magazine will see its 2020 Destiny Issue as its final iteration as a print magazine. Going forward, this venerable student driven publication will now be known as Owl Media, and will be moving entirely to an online, digital format.
The idea for this transition was first envisioned shortly after the release of the 2020 Destiny Issue, but due to Covid complications, the project was slow moving at first. Now, however, at the end of 2022, Owl Media is in full swing and will be the new vehicle for student journalism at HCC.
Such change required work, however, and much of this burden fell to HCC alum and now adjunct professor Faras Aamir and his students.
Professor Aamir served as the director for the project, with his students assisting him in various production tasks, which made up the curriculum of the class he taught in the spring semester of 2022. Aamir also designed the new logo and spearheaded the marketing and branding efforts.
“Structure was the most important thing going into the website,” he says. “We needed to figure out what Owl Magazine’s content and mission would look like on a website inclusive of all of its stories and themes. It wasn’t going to be a seasonal release anymore that is branded per theme. So, I came up with a curriculum that took into consideration the following: research of other online college publications, mockup designs and themes, content and category development, web design and layout, uploading content, SEO, and marketing/promotion. We followed these steps and eventually found a structure to develop on.”
John Morin, HCC alum and former Technical Advisor, also discusses some of the challenges that came with changing formats, as well as his thoughts on the future of the student driven media association:
“Transferring old print copies to the digital space was a bit of a learning curve, but everyone picked it up rather quickly. I also think transferring to a website feels like the natural progression for Owl Media. Over the years we have tried to stay with the times but have also looked ahead to see what new format, ideas, or concepts we could tackle. A website will allow a lot of flexibility in what students will be able to produce and share, while also giving them crucial skills for an ever-evolving industry.”
After the end of the spring semester, the summer would see a drop in student activity on campus, and with it, a drop in production speed on the new project. However, I was able to come on board during this time, and after a few days of practice and instruction from Aamir and Morin, was able to begin posting and restructuring old content onto the upcoming website, with assistance from Jennie Hall-Frantz, a fellow staff member. It proved to be a learning experience for us both.
“I was honored to take the internship class to build our website starting from the ground up, and learned so much along the way,” she says.
Julia Morris, another HCC alum, and former Technical Advisor, has high hopes for what this transition could mean for the publication going forward.
She says, “I think that shifting to a digital space will help bring Owl Media into the present. It will allow the journalists writing for us to focus in on more current events, as well as learn to operate in an online sphere. Both skills are very necessary for the job field today. I think this transition will also help to expand the readership and community in ways that are difficult or borderline impossible to do in a print format.”
Summer Grace, current journalism student and president of the Journalism Club, got on board with Owl Media just in time to experience the change from a fresh perspective:
“In high school I was the school’s news editor, and all 4 years I was enrolled in journalism classes. I devoted so much of my life to the work. I knew I wanted to pursue journalism in the future, and so I knew I was going to be coming to the club every week. I knew it was an opportunity I absolutely had to go for. I was also interested in having a leadership job because I do have experience in journalism and because I love it so much and it seemed like a great opportunity and something I just could not pass up.”
Paige Clark, a recent Business Administration graduate who was integral to the project in its early stages during the spring semester, is certain this change will serve as an upgrade to HCC’s journalism program:
“I do think that transitioning to an online media format will be beneficial to the publication because in a progressive digital age it is important to make content accessible to everyone. The future of journalism will always be tied to technology. the more prevalent that media becomes in society, the more impact it will have.”
Roger Newcomb, another student who contributed to the development of the website thinks “the future of Owl Media is limitless and will be taken as far as its students and advisors want to take it.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for future content releases of Owl Media at owlmedia.org.