By next week, The LaSallian (TLS) will be releasing its mobile application “TLS Mobile”, which will be available both for Android and Apple smartphones. According to TLS Editor in Chief Wilhelm Tan, the application serves as a platform to better connect with its readers and to adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape.
TLS Mobile, similar to the current website of TLS, contains the following sections: University, Menagerie, Sports, and Opinion. Some additional sections that will be included in the app are Poptown, the comics section of TLS, and Photo. There will also be a section wherein members of the Lasallian community will be able to send in complaints or issues they want to raise.
“If, for example, there are certain issues you encountered with the administration, you may send it directly to us so that we can investigate as soon as possible. This feature is similar to what some of our national news sites utilize to gain insider information from the citizens themselves,” Tan states.
Furthermore, once someone downloads the app, they can also turn notifications on or off. For instance, when TLS is currently live tweeting a volleyball game, a person will automatically be notified of it. TLS Mobile Lead Developer and TLS Circulations Manager Jan Christian Blaise Cruz explains, “Not only will this increase our readership base, it will also be an avenue for The LaSallian to become more connected with them.”
Some other planned features include developing a section wherein news from other La Salle student publications will be shared. This feature will essentially provide a spotlight to some issues that are not raised in other La Salle schools. Currently, there are over 16 La Salle schools in the country, the most active student publication of which is TLS.
Developing the app
Cruz mentions that the planning for the application began back in February 2016. “We decided to develop a mobile application for The LaSallian because we realized a growing need to better connect with our audience, especially the Lasallian community,” he shares.
The actual development of the application jump-started in April 2016, and ended around mid-February 2017. Throughout that time, Cruz and his team managed the back-end and front-end development of the application during their free times in school. The team consisted of Cruz, three staffers, and two TLS alumni. They admit that creating the application was a highly grueling and challenging task, but was nonetheless fulfilling when they began to see it getting built up.
Tan adds, “Just last year, we also formed a Web section. They will be the ones to manage our new mobile application, specifically in terms of publishing online content and providing fixes to some possible bugs and errors. We hope that through this, we will be able to interact better with our audience.”
The initial stages of developing the application, however, were not easy as some TLS editorial board members were against it. Some argued that the workload expected from maintaining the application would become too difficult to manage later on, considering that the organization also manages its website and several other social media accounts. Currently, the web section of TLS manages the following online assets: the TLS website and the organization’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
After several meetings, the EB decided that being able to manage the mobile application well is just a matter of strengthening and recruiting more members for the Web section, which is still at its infancy stage. Currently, there are only five members in TLS’ Web section.
“Following the development of the app, we will be more aggressive in enticing more students, especially computer science majors, to join our Web section. Our next recruitment week will be during third term of this year,” Tan reveals.
Rebby Navarro (III, BSA) shares that she’s always updated with the news that TLS shares in its various social media accounts. “I think the addition of this app will make it easier for TLS to establish better relationships with their readers,” she adds. Furthermore, she suggests that the app can have other features such as a section wherein students themselves can report any issue they encounter–similar to CNN’s iReport and GMA News Online’s YouScoop.
On the other hand, Joseph Rustia (IV, ACM) believes that the app will allow TLS to innovate in terms of mobile journalism. “Nowadays, in an ever-changing news landscape, people will always need fast-paced and credible news. This is why many traditional newspapers have resulted to digital, because it’s a more effective means to reach people. I’m glad that TLS expanded its online assets further through this app,” he comments.
While University news like the lean years and tuition fee increase continue to raise some challenges within the Lasallian community, TLS needs a more effective platform to reach its readers. Once the TLS Mobile gets launched, several future developments will come with it.