By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
Students at Grand Rapids Community College now have access to a new app that will open doors to news both global, national and local, written by students and professionals.
USA Today has been teaming up with colleges around the country, introducing an app, “The Buzz.” The app will have a constant feed of articles from USA Today, USA Today College, a branch of the company that allows college students to publish articles edited by USA Today staff, and GRCC’s student-run publication, The Collegiate. The app will be available for download from both the Apple Store and Google Play.
The app began as a prototype two years ago at eight “beta” schools chosen to test drive the application on their campus. These schools include four-year universities and community colleges.
“The app is meant to grow with the campus,” said Mary Ellen Couture, regional sales manager and app specialist for USA Today. According to the feedback that USA Today gets from the partner schools, they are “continually listening, and tweaking, and developing.”
USA Today plans to bring 50 colleges on board by Sept. 8. So far, 46 have signed annual contracts and 14 other schools are pending. For GRCC, the app will cost the school about $15,000 annually depending on student population.
The version of the app is “2.0,” which means it will include new features like a dashboard where the college can look at specific analytics, how many students are looking at what kinds of content.
The student publication will also be able to utilize the app for advertising and there’s a possibility that local newspapers under Gannett, the company that also owns USA Today, will be featured on the app as a fourth party and location based. A local media source in Grand Rapids under the Gannett company would be WZZM 13.
Upon opening the app, users can pick filters that will only show stories in those categories. For example, if the user chooses “sports,” they will see stories about sports from all three news feeds.
There is an option to pick “News,” and the user will see all stories from all publications.
There are future plans for developing a calendar that would show school-related events.
“The vision for our app is to go a step further and work with the universities,” Couture said.
“I am simply excited that we will now have an app available for students, staff and faculty to access news at anytime,” said Evan Macklin, Coordinator of Student Life and Conduct at GRCC.
“Students are always on their phones and tablets, so it will be nice to deliver content to them through this platform. With the reduction of print copies, it also gives the opportunity to be a bit more green which is always a goal of ours.”