Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Newsday: More school yearbooks adding online content

More school yearbooks adding online content

The yearbook experience at many Long Island schools is starting to resemble Facebook browsing -- with online content that lets students like, tag and share photos -- as the century-old tradition turns to technology to keep the industry profitable.
New computer programs from startup companies allow students to create personal electronic versions using images from the hardcover editions and even ones that didn't make the cut, yearbook makers say. 
As startups grow -- 3-year-old Tree Ring works with more than 1,000 schools, including ones in Uniondale and Lynbrook -- industry leaders Jostens and Herff Jones have launched their own digital enhancements in a bid to keep up.
"It's a competitive industry," said Drew Krejci, a communications manager at Jostens. "We're making sure that we leverage all the technology to create a stronger and better book."
Some of the startups let students create customized collage pages -- printed only in their yearbooks -- that are catching on with parents who might otherwise worry about their child's presence in the yearbook.
"It made more people actually want the book," said Margo Cargill , a parent who edited the fifth-grade yearbook at Northern Parkway Elementary in Uniondale. 
"The traditional yearbook is kind of a great memento for the school, but it's not always about each student," said Aaron Greco, Tree Ring's chief executive.
At Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset , which works with Jostens, the 2012 yearbook will come with a virtual time capsule. Over the school year, students have posted pictures, tagged their classmates and categorized images by time and place for the time capsule that will be "sealed" permanently on June 30. This fall, Herff Jones will offer a similar digital supplement for its clients. Earlier this week, the company closed down one of its four yearbook plants, laying off 130 workers.
"The entire publishing industry is in a state of transformation right now," said Len Vlahos, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit book trade association. 
Among the most avid supporters of the changes are parents. Software programs, say some yearbook advisers, make adding photos easier and more collaborative. Students and parents can upload images from their iPod Touch devices, Facebook accounts and smartphones. Some moms even texted them in.
One benefit of the digital software, parent advisers found, is its ability to keep track of how many photos each student is tagged in. At West End Elementary School in Lynbrook, parents kept things fair by making sure that students appeared in at least two pictures for each grade's "memory page," but no more than five.
One parent editor stood outside of classrooms and snapped cellphone pictures of students who weren't in enough photos.
"There's a big deal if somebody's child is in the yearbook 20 times," Mary Calabro said.  READ MORE

Monday, June 18, 2012

ABC News: Creating high school memories digitally

Creating high school memories digitally

Like any yearbook staff, seniors at East Side Community High School put in long hours.
"At first I found it a little difficult, but then I thought about it. It's like a Facebook page," staff member Joyce Perez said.
By using website called Tree Ring, the students were able to use laptops for creating the record of their high school memories.
"They have like hundreds of different layouts and backgrounds, colors. You name it, they have it to design a page. So the kids are completely involved in the process from the very beginning to the very end," yearbook advisor Lindsay Balarezo said.
"I'm glad that we had the opportunity to make our own yearbook and put what we want in it and have a say in what we wanted our own yearbooks to look like," student Eric Russell said.
Their work will be printed with a choice of soft or hard covers.
This will be the first yearbook at Eastside Community High School in 3 years, due to cost considerations, and there have been other years when the small high school has not been able to afford a yearbook.
"It felt horrible just to decide that you couldn't get something that's part of a rite of passage for seniors," principal Mark Federman said.
But because the students have done all the work, and bulk ordering is not required. The cost is half, or less, than the school's last published yearbook. Also, they were able to include photos of a trip this spring to a Mets game, because digital deadlines are more flexible.
"The fact that we have so much time to put everything in the year book the way we wanted is the best thing ever," student Shannon Thomas said.
"I'm really proud of it because we all worked really hard on it throughout the year and I think it turned out great," Brianna Barrett said.
The yearbooks are due on graduation day.  READ MORE