By: Tim LaRoche
Matt Seaver sits at the edge of the middle row of computers in the Vail math lab late on a Thursday night.
He takes a swig of Berry Blast Naked juice, looks around the room and returns to working on his laptop. His lips silently mimic the words of Bartender by T-Pain, which blares from his laptop speakers through the otherwise quiet room.
It is a so-called “layout night” for The Critic, during which the editors gather in the Vail computer lab to assemble the print edition for the next morning. But even though The Critic’s flagship product is the print newspaper, new trends in journalism have brought new life the organizations website.
Although Seaver is one of the most recent additions to The Critic’s small staff, he plays a vital role in managing the social media and web aspects of the newspaper.
“Putting stuff on the website is fairly straightforward,” he said. “The harder part is figuring out what and when to put stuff on Facebook.”
The more demanding – and oftentimes the most tedious — aspect of the job is managing the social media accounts for newspaper. On his part, much of the job requires that he judge when certain articles will perform better than others.
“Weekends, people probably don’t want to read the heavier stuff,” Seaver said. “There’s not necessarily enough days in the week to put all the content on Facebook, so it’s kind of a give and take.”
And to make matters even complicated, Seaver is in charge of using data-driven analytics to push social media posts at peak hours of the day.
That extra effort has paid dividends, though. During the semester that Seaver has been the web editor, social media engagement has increased tremendously. And Seaver was instrumental in the creation of an entirely new website for the organization as well.
Although Seaver plans to go into broadcast journalism after he graduates from Lyndon State College, he says he recognizes that web plays an important role for the future of the entire journalism industry.
“Most people now consume media via social media and web based interfaces,” he said. “People are moving away from more traditional means, like television, and ending up on the web.”
The long night of layout continues, and Seaver begins to edit articles in preparation for their uploading to the website. At this point in the night, as the self-imposed “DJ for The Critic,” he switches the song to Mad by Ne-Yo. But there is still much work to be done.