Modern Journalism : How we’re helping to define it

We aren’t doing anything out-of-the-ordinary. No, it’s not revolutionary either, but it’s still constructive. We’re just making changes to an existing structure: the a priori shift online.

What the shift means

As opposed to a print-centric publication schedule, we’re now establishing an online-centric plan. Of course, content is published weekly. Only now, we’re changing up our content. This past year, we managed to pull of an (almost) daily publishing schedule. It was fairly successful – the website was more populated than ever and we began receiving more hits on our website. However, now that we’ve gotten through the year, we’re in a good position to start making improvements. That improvement, is this so-called changing up. By that, we mean more videos. More pictures. More multimedia in general. We’re expanding coverage to new media. Of course, this isn’t anything new.

Then, why read this post?

Answer is, we’re pulling off tight schedules for both print (monthly) and online (daily) with a small staff. We’ve got 30 student-journalists on staff, including staffers, editors, managers, and the adviser herself. We’re hoping our plan will work, and to our knowledge, we don’t know of any other staff our size that’s managed this publication cycle successfully.

The Plan

Notice, we’re publishing content daily, with the new plan. It could be a 30-second video snippet, a picture gallery, or even an article preview. We aren’t necessarily pushing articles everyday. As a matter of fact, we’ll be publishing fewer articles but more content. So, what exactly is the article preview? It’s a 50-100 word snippet, as a teaser of some sort for an upcoming print article. To our readers, it’s a sneak peak into the next issue. To the editors, it’s really more of a breather than anything. We’ll have to see how this turns out.

Looking On

From the inside out, the Head Editorial board is working together to change how we work. We’re bringing a more robust structure and thorough planning to the publication, meaning more internal management and the utilization of technology to its maximum potential. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t.

Alvin Wan

Hoofprint Editor-In-Chief 2013


The Milestone for a Three-year Tenure

Hot off the press

By online standards, we’re considered a young fledgling. By past standards, we’ve got a yet younger staff. There’s no doubt that we, nevertheless, have potential, but with just several years of experience online and a decade or more in print, we have a bit of ways to go.

The Hoofprint online just reached it’s fourth birthday just this past August, but we’ve already got a milestone to share with you, dear reader. As of this morning, the Hoofprint has published 1,000+ articles online!


As of this very moment, several months into the school year, we are proud to call ourselves a daily paper (give or take a day or two). It’s a constant process, a cyclic barrage of work and more work, as we rush from one week to the next. Nevertheless, we maintain our promise to our readership, to you, to the oh-so-beautiful visitors that chance upon our website.

As a closely knit team of journalists, we’ve also got enough of all-things newspaper to make the online paper a success. It’s taken work beyond imagining to make this new commitment work, but it’s all the same made significant progress with a staff so young.

A Stepping Stone

This is a day to remember in Hoofprint years to come, but there’s a little something coming up that we’d like to tell you about. As a matter of fact, it’s an announcement about an announcement. Within several months-time, the Hoofprint will begin mass-advertising our website. We’ll be working to market our work and our capabilities, as we’ve proven to ourselves and to the current readership that we can indeed be a daily publisher.

There will be more details…

Follow us on Twitter to get more updates!

Got a couple seconds? Like us on Facebook, or give us a +1 on Google+! We’d also love to hear from you. Feel free to comment away below!

added October 23, 2012

The thousandth poster was staffer Yolanda Yu! Her article can be found here:

To delegate more of a lasting memoir to this moment, developer Alvin Wan, a part of the Tech Team, put together a feature page for the 1,000+ posts:

We hope you enjoy! And thank you, dear readership, for sharing this moment with us.

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

Kudos for the First Articles of the Year

Fresh Start

We’ve got articles to share, stories to tell, and photos to show. We’ve got a running website and a regular paper to show for it all. There’s plenty of work to do, but five weeks into the school year, it’s safe to say that we’re getting off to a good start.

Tell me about it

It’s true. It’s only our first publishing week, but thus far, nothing holds us back. The Hoofprint has a publishing cycle up and running, not to mention regular story conferences and an efficient assemblage of ideas. With the new staffer additions to our family, we can expect great work from these great writers.

So, what’s new?

As of this moment, nothing we can share – no fears, we’re working on the new and the noteworthy. Just give us time, and we’ll be sure to surprise you.

Our Video Endeavor

We’ve also got a surprise for you – videos. These will be published in brief series, ranging from three to five video shorts to accompany a documentary. For our first project, the Tech Team covered Philip Sobretodo:

We’ll be publishing the aforementioned project on the website soon. Stay in tune for more information!

Final Words

The 2012-2013 school year looks promising, and as our coverage expands and grows, the Hoofprint hopes to reach its goal of a consistent publication. Stay in tune for more information and articles!

Got a couple seconds? Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or give us a +1 on Google+! We’d also love to hear from you. Feel free to comment away below!

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

Giving UI Some Love

The Switch Around

Our design? A little clunky?

Perhaps so, but more importantly, not as easy to navigate. For a simplistic approach, we decorated the navigation bar with only three graphics. As a result, we placed the section links along the right side of the window, intended as fixed icons that followed the user around the website.

This might’ve eased browsing the website a slight bit, but nothing beats the conventional navigation bar in function. However, in striving for a simplistic look, we decided against this traditional taste in cluttered and overwhelming navigation. The Tech Team was forced to brainstorm for alternative functional methods.

Also, a fun fact. UI stands for User Interface. So, in addressing UI, we are truly accommodating the needs of our readers.

The Alternative

To put a raw concept to the test, the Tech Team implemented a fixed footer at the bottom of the window. The footer, in this way, could serve a dual purpose: to hold extra navigation and to make space for future “extra links”, including the latest in our RSS feed and maybe even a “suscribe” option.

As far, the footer is only home to two sets of navigation menus:

1. Sections
– News
– Sports
– Feature
– Scene
– Arts & Entertainment
– Opinion

2. Network
– Blog (this blog)
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Google+

These links appear to be sufficient for the meantime. Fortunately, we have room aplenty for future additions.

Why We Refused to Conform

“Conform” meaning adopting a navigation bar filled to the brim with sections and more sections. Establishing a “Hoofprint” style – meaning introducing a simplistic and clear-cut design, with a modernized twist, to readers.

The whsHoofprint is sticking with the three-button approach to our main navigation bar. Simply, the three graphics are much easier to comprehend.

Plus, the footer is more accessible, following the readers even as they move down the page for a lengthier article.

Final Words

Soon enough, that black bar, properly termed the “footer”, will also contain polls and interactives “quizzes” just for our readers. There’s possibilities abound with this new, so to speak, advent in whsHoofprint UI. Just keep in sync with all things Hoofprint, and we’ll make sure to make exclusive members of you dedicated readers.

Got a couple seconds? Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or give us a +1 on Google+! We’d also love to hear from you. Feel free to comment away below!

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

The Power of PHP, Watermark by Request

Image Protection

Earlier this week, our adviser voiced a strong concern regarding our photos. By posting online, the Hoofprint had effectively made it possible for readers to download our images, which was neither stamped with “Hoofprint” nor encrypted with Hoofprint authorship.

In light of this issue, Tech Team sat down to address the problem of photo downloads from our website, and that’s, in a nutshell, been our past week: working to protect our photos. Our targets range from photos to illustrations to graphics; regardless, we needed a one-step solution to cover all images.

The Problem

We had several issues with stamping watermarks on our photos – the most problematic was that our website contained 9,000+ images.

Inherently, stamping this watermark manually was simply not an option. So, we looked into alternatives and dreamed up the most ideal of programs.

Trial One

Files are automatically stamped with a watermark in the upload process.
This program would certainly be practical, at least in theory. The Tech Team put together a filter of sorts to intercept uploaded media and stamp them with the Hoofprint watermark. The procedure worked beautifully; however, there were two drawbacks that we had overlooked.

First, because uploaded images were stamped, those copies had been altered beyond recovery. This would certainly be the most foolproof method of protecting our images. As, if our own staff could not download originals, neither could anyone else. However, a more glaring issue arose.

In short, our previously uploaded 9,000+ photos were still unprotected. Whereas the Tech Team had provided an infallible image protection method for future development, all of our past photos remained vulnerable. Naturally, we decided to touch up on the current solution, and simultaneously rushed to brainstorm a second one.

Trial Two

Periodic cron jobs will automatically check for and watermark uploaded images.
Tech Team began with finding a solution to the second but more important issue. So, we ended up deciding between either a PHP (PHP Hypertext Processor) scan and watermark of all images or a cron job that periodically checked for vulnerable images. However, neither process made it past the drawing board.

To begin with, cron jobs are time-based scripts that are run automatically on the server. As a result, the program would run independent of human resources and effectively become a self-managing measure of protection.

Yet, the job would be flawed. Although the cron job would be able to cover all 9,000+ images, the time interval between uploading and processing could potentially mean a “security hole”, or at least a brief moment of vulnerability for all images. Another issue would be identification between a processed and an unprocessed image, as searching for the watermark in the photo would require an algorithm that we simply could not develop.

The PHP scan would certainly have no issues, as it was a one-time job that would cover all uploaded images. However, even when combined with the first solution, both processes still neglected the first issue – that our staff would not be able to revert converted images.

Third Time’s the Charm

In the end, we decided on a .htaccess and PHP solution, which proves capable of preserving all our original photos and of serving watermarked images.

.Htaccess is a script responsible for URL redirects, sometimes masking an old URL and automatically displaying content from a new one, or often just reloading a new webpage for the user’s convenience.

Our .htaccess simply redirects all image requests to a PHP snippet, responsible for watermarking and stamping the photo. This temporary image cache is then served to the reader, and the original image is left untouched. It was simple in concept, and after several trials, Tech Team managed to get the snippet working.

A couple tweaks.

As we develop this piece of code, Tech Team has a couple more refinements to add, in light of photo size and alignment issues.

First of the all, the watermark is cornered on the bottom-right corner of the photo. Our solution would be center the watermark and hopefully to, as a direct result, stamp the subject of the photo.

Also as an issue with size, the watermarked maintains its original dimensions when stamped, so a 500×300 stamp is hardly creates an effect when placed on a 2000×1200 image. A simple calculation would be required to paste the watermark relative to the size of the photo itself. The Hoofprint watermark’s dimensions will be anywhere from 80% – 95% of the photo’s.

Final Words

Now that all Hoofprint images are protected, it looks like we’ll be safe, at least in the meantime, from duplicate content. Not that it’s been an issue in the past, but as we move to publicize our photography and the multitudes of media content that we upload, copyright infringement could be an issue. Go ahead and take a look. Those photos look magnificent with “Hoofprint” literally written on them.

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

whsHoofprint New Feature: Saving Stories

Saving Stories

There’s no telling when readers are, firstly, in a rush, and secondly, curious to read that oh-so-interesting-looking article. So, to improve the reader experience, we’ve incorporated a new feature. This addition, the all-new sidebar, gives readers the option to “save a story” with the click of an add “+” button.

Go ahead and check it out right now!

Why? Why? Why?

Very simply, it’s for our readers, whose convenience certainly tops our list of priorities, but more importantly, whose overall experience with our online publication is made satisfactory, if not outright amazing. The toolbar follows you wherever you go on the whsHoofprint website, in effect, to serve as your on-hand toolbox.

Mashing it into the whsHoofprint mix

The concept is fairly simple. “Bookmark” a story, so to speak, for later. Yet, this idea didn’t make it past the drawing board until we revisited the option in late July. Within several days, we had a basic version available, and after an additional several days of testing, we decided to publish it. So here we are, proud to announce the first of many Tech Team additions.

There’s got to be more…

Most fortunately, there will be! The Tech Team has one more tool for the all-new sidebar in mind. This upcoming feature is meant to improve user experience, and just like this one, is designed to be a convenient little widget for our oh-so-special readers.

The details have yet to be worked out, but we’re working hard to make it work. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more updates!

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

How the whsHoofprint is switching gears

Into Second Gear

We’ve got some problems switching from one interlocking piece to another, and it’s for the same reasons that tens, if not hundreds, of other organizations haven’t caught up with media dissemination. Put nicely, it’s too hard for us.

This so-called issue is the orientation of a publication towards the online world. As far, coping with the demands and expectations of any online publication has proven impossible, as the necessity for high frequency and simultaneously a stringent eye on quality is beyond student capability. It’s a futile struggle; moreover, we’re running a hamster wheel without knowing it.

This is all, of course, what went wrong. We began the year confident in online success and received evidence to the contrary, but here’s one thing we learned: what not to do.

Run Print and Online Cycles Together

As a matter of fact, the whsHoofprint two-week cycle was logically sound and certainly reasonable, as was the six-issue 2011-2012 volume of newspapers that we had scheduled. The fact that both of them occurred simultaneously, and incompatibly so, was enough a flaw to throw the system on its back.

For this recurring phenomenon, observation was essential to understanding how even excellence could not fend off eventual loss of faith in the system. In the ideal situation, a story conference would be convened on Monday and could potentially yield satisfying results after one or two hours. With half of their period gone, editors would assign articles during the remainder of the block period. Supposing all articles were assigned on time, the staffers would be able to interview on Thursday. Given that interviews of the three sources ran smoothly, the staffer would then finish just in time for the period’s end. The editor would edit on Thursday night, and on Friday, the article would be published.

Sounds impossible, because it is. Teachers may be blacklisted or students may be absent, putting to waste minutes spent on locating the former individual and then on the latter replacement. Ideas may not be sufficient in the initial conference. The editor may not be satisfied on Friday, and the staffer may end up returning for a second interview. The ideal scenario illustrates a one-week cycle simply because, most importantly, the two-week online cycle ran alongside a similarly structured schedule for print. Nonetheless, the glaring issue is not impracticality. The problem is inefficiency.

The Solution

In short, the solution lies within the digital world. Much of the initial process can be simplified via a well-maintained system. Story conferences could be truncated with a system that centralizes all of the school’s updates and announcements. Interviews could be shortened by instantaneous data response, containing both location and that singular day’s attendance. The consideration and comprehension of any and all of these options is, for obvious reasons, necessary for their implementation. However, the first step is to acknowledge our faults and, with our recognition of the system’s failure, the whsHoofprint staff has in fact conclusively decided against redoing our mistakes.

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

The Hoofprint: Square One

How we started from Square One

In essence, this entry describes the beginnings of the Online Hoofprint’s launch into the SEO world. First and foremost, we participated in various social networks and built ourselves, not one, but multiple publication media – the dominant medium being our very own Online Hoofprint website of course. Ensuing steps sought to unify our logo and identity across all websites, simultaneously regulating a high degree of quality in our work for an overall more dominant web presence.

Social Networking

Starting July 16, 2012, the Tech Team began connecting the Online Hoofprint’s various networking sites, which consists of the following:

Online Hoofprint:
Google Plus:

Twitter was slightly more troublesome, as former staff members created duplicate accounts. Tech Team simply posted notices on each account redirecting them to the new whsHoofprint on twitter.


Quite simply, we replicated the same logo and iconographic image across all networking sites. Particularly on the buzz-a-plenty Facebook, the Online Hoofprint received some attention.

Quality Control

This has to manifest itself in any way, shape, or form, as we have yet to resume publication. However, the Tech Team is making preparations for the 2012-2013 year by improving on our own development skills and coding programs to enhance our publication processes.

Wow Factor

The website is our primary concern. As we draw attention to the website across multiple web platforms, we, for obvious reasons, seek to capture and keep the attention of our readers. By introducing new “web tools” to personalize the readers’ experiences, the Tech Team hopes to achieve this goal.

Final Words

Busy. Busy. Busy. That’s who we are: busy bees. The Tech Team is working hard to bring a new experience to the Online Hoofprint, and most encouragingly, we’ve already found successes. Our very own Online Hoofprint moved up two ranks in Google’s search for “Hoofprint”. We now stand at third place at a Public Rank of two.

We’ll keep our readers posted. Just check back, and as always (or at least from now on), check our twitter/facebook/google+ for more updates!

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

The End of the Beginning: 2012 Here We Go

And… We’re Back! (For now)

With the onset of a new 2012-2013 school year here at Walnut High School, the Hoofprint’s rejuvenated and hot-off-the-press Tech Team has a couple new, so to speak, “renovations” in mind. For one, this website will be publishing as the WHSHoofprint’s official blog, home to the occasional landmarks in our organization.

How’s it looking?

The WHSHoofprint underwent several redesigns in the 2011-2012 school year. Nevertheless and for the first time since October 2010, the Tech Team has finally decided on a design to stay.

What’s up?

The Tech Team will be producing monthly documentaries as a part of a series featuring extraordinary Mustangs. The first of our series features former senior Nick Simo.

You can watch the documentary on the WHSHoofprint

In addition, a brand new but untested cycle will be run. Publications members, alongside Tech staff, will be publishing articles on a weekly basis. Podcasts and the occasional in-depth interactive may be released. We’re looking to work up our online presence and eventually reach specific target goals as determined by the Tech Team.

Final Words

As the 2012-2013 year approaches, WHSHoofprint as a whole is moving quickly to prepare. Incoming staffers and the implementation of a new publication cycle may slow our progress, but as with deadline and all things deadline-related, Publications is prepared to meet these challenges.

Tech Team 2012
Online Hoofprint Division
Alvin Wan, Jessica You, Leon Ho, Jackie Sotoodeh

WHSHoofprint Official Launch

It’s begun

After several months of deliberation and finally the decision to begin, Wesley Wu put together the beginnings of the Online Hoofprint, also known as the WHSHoofprint.

Tech Team 2008
Wesley Wu

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 629 other followers

%d bloggers like this: