OPAC looks to expand digital operations

After more than 25 years in publication, the Yale Bulletin & Calendar has gone digital.

The move from print to the new Yale Daily Bulletin (YDB) website occurred Sept. 13 and is part of what Chief Communications Officer Thomas Mattia says is a three-year strategic plan launched in January to restructure the University’s external and internal communications. LuAnn Bishop, editor of thepublication, said the new website will still feature “bulletin” content:daily updates on University news and more in-depth stories. The new website is currently available as a beta service, Bishop said, and her office plans to make the site fully operational by spring 2011.

In addition to the website, there have been other signs of change in Yale’s approach to media. The Office of Public Affairs and Communications launched a new weekly e-mail newsletter, “Yale This Week,” on Sept. 20. The newsletter was sent to faculty and staff, Mattia said, and could be expand its subscription base to alumni and students should it prove helpful.

For Bishop, one of the major benefits and challenges presented by these new digital publications has been the 24-hour news cycle — a website requires a constant stream of daily updates, as opposed to the Yale Bulletin and Calendar’s less frequent pace.

“We can be more timely about how we get things out,” she said. “In a weekly newspaper, you don’t have that advantage.”

But traditional print media is still in the picture for the time being.

Mattia said the Yale Calendar, a bimonthly four-page paper primarily geared toward events, will continue to publish for now. During this transitional period, the calendar will be printed 17 times a year, as Yale officials contemplate dropping the Calendar altogether in favor of an online-only news source.

Though Bishop said she has gotten some comments from subscribers who prefer theBulletin in print, University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said replacing the print Bulletin with the online version is the logical next step for the University.

Lorimer also pointed to improved sustainability as an added bonus of reducing their print circulation.

Though the Yale Bulletin transition will save the University $40,000 to $50,000 and help the OPAC meet its budget reduction goals for this year, Mattia says the new strategy was intendedto improve the University’s image and interdepartmental communications. The contributions to the environment and Yale’s budget are side benefits, he said.

“By thinking of how to best do our job of positioning among our peer institutions came a discussion of internal communications,” Mattia said. “The driver was to communicate better. The fallout from that decision is that we’ll save some printing money.”

Fringe benefits aside, Bishop and Mattia said that the opportunity to incorporate multimedia content into OPAC ventures has long appealed to them. New mediums like the new YDB website, they said, provide opportunities for more interactive content, such as videos and podcasts, to enhance news stories.

Lucas Swineford, the director of the Yale Media and Broadcast Center, said his office works closely with the OPAC and other departments on campus to define the best ways to use multimedia to meet communications needs. Mattia said a mobile platform is still in development,

The Media Center’s involvement in the development of a mobile platform, Swineford said, would mostly involve audiovisual contributions. Hypothetically, if an app were made to give out campus tours, the Media Center would help create videos and audio notes to enhance the tour experience, he said.

In the meantime, Mattia said his office will keep revising the strategic plan to bring the Yale community closer together as he continues to meet with communications officials in Yale College and professional schools.

This year, he added, OPAC will focus on expanding the Open Yale Courses and iTunes U platform.

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