Echo hits milestone, looks for help with improvements

Echo-logoBy David Poulson
It’s a little more than five years since the Knight Center launched a non-profit environmental news service.
And as we pass the milestone of the 3,000th post on Great Lakes Echo, we’re celebrating with a new look.
We’re setting the foundation for another five years of producing and fostering original environmental news stories about the Great Lakes region.
Here’s what you’ll notice:

  • It’s easier to find recent content.
  • It’s easier to find particular kinds of content.
  • It’s easier to comment.
  • Echo works far better on phones, tablets, laptops, desktops.

And gee, we sure look good on all of those platforms.
Here’s what you likely won’t notice but makes things better for us:

  • Improved security. We had become a target of hacks that slowed performance, discouraged traffic and caused all kind of behind-the-scenes headaches.
  • Improved copy handling. The less time we process news stories, the more time we have to report them.
  • Improvements making it easier for search engines to find and better index Echo stories.
  • Improved tech support. We moved to a commercial server better able to focus on us.

As always with Echo, this project is an unusual combination of education and outreach.
The nitty gritty job of upgrading, migrating and rethinking what we do is an IT Project Management capstone project at MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences.
So a special hat tip goes to the student team of Zulhaj Choudhury, Christian Fincher, Justin Hopton and Jackson Robb. Another goes to their instructors, MSU professors Constantinos K. Coursaris and Wietske van Osch.
And yet another goes to the Investigative News Network that developed the theme that we adapted for our use. INN is a great group of non-profit news services pioneering the digital news landscape.
We’re not done. We’ve got enough here to launch. But there is still work ahead.
That’s where you come in.
Help us flag the glitches to iron out. Suggest improvements. We’re aware that we still have news categories to repopulate.  But what else can’t you do that you’d like to?
The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism launched Echo five years ago. But it’s readers who have been building this unique news community ever since.
Grab a metaphorical hammer and help build the foundation for the next five years. Send suggestions may way at
Echo Editor David Poulson is the associate director of the Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.