Baylor Lariat app calling all to stay on top of campus news

By Amando Dominick

Staff Writer

Students looking for the latest Baylor news and beyond, now need to look no further than their pocket.

The Baylor Lariat has recently released a free app on numerous platforms that brings news and headlines directly to readers’ iPhones, iPads and iPods and will soon be available on any device running the Android operating system.

The iPhone and iPad apps are currently available, and New Aperio, the Baton Rouge-based company hired to develop the app, said the Android version of the apps is slated to be completed sometime this month.

The content in the app is automatically updated every day the newspaper publishes, and also for weekend events such as sports.

Push notifications, which apps use to send alerts to the devices they are installed on, will be used to notify users of breaking news. Inside the app, information is categorized into sections labeled Headlines, News, Sports, Arts and Entertainment, Opinion and Multimedia.

“In order for us to be competitive with other news organizations, this app opens a door for us that allows us to showcase what our students are doing every day in an instantaneous fashion,” said Dr. Sara Stone, interim chair of the journalism, public relations and new media department.

The app developed over the course of a year from an idea of student publications director Paul Carr to an actual product that, by November of 2012, will be available to 85 percent of the smartphone market through both the Apple and Android operating systems.

“This app will help us connect with both current students and alumni who are interested in keeping up with what’s going on around campus and want to see the student’s perspective on events — whether it’s the issues of the day, sports coverage, campus events, photography, those sorts of things,” Carr said.

Carr said the app should help increase the Lariat’s reader base substantially by providing accessibility to students who are interested in reading it and keeping up with it, but don’t have the time to pick up a physical copy of the paper.

“What we want is for people to come to the Lariat for Baylor news, but if we’re not there in the market with an app, then chances are we’re not going to be their first stop,” said Julie Freeman, assistant media adviser.

The app also gives readers the option to share articles via Facebook, Twitter, email and other social outlets — an option already available for stories posted on the website.

“I don’t think there is a single student doing an advanced public relations internship who is not using social media, and obviously social media is a big part of new media,” Stone said.

Not only does the app convey the news of the latest events and contain push notifications for breaking news to its subscribers, it is reflective of changes happening in the industry itself — changes that have prompted the journalism department to become the journalism, public relations and new media department.

“We’ve been on the Web, and it was just time to take it to the next level — that’s what our industry is doing and that’s what we need to do,” Carr said.

“It used to be that people picked up a newspaper to get their news or they watched the six o’clock news on television — but that is not how the average person, and certainly not how the average young person today, gets news,” Stone said. “This app is very important because it allows us to communicate with people in a really easy way that they’re used to being communicated with.”

Freeman said the app is beneficial to readers because they receive notifications when breaking news happens.

“Websites have been around, but the fact that you can have this in your hand that it can notify you as things happen. It’s just a great thing for us and our readers,” Freeman said.

“It’s [the app ] a reflection of the reality of how people communicate today, so I’m excited for this,” Stone said. The Baylor Lariat app can be downloaded for free and the iTunes app store.