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How to improve Morning mail

Category : Uncategorized · by Feb 2nd, 2009

In my first BDH column today, I discussed how the new Brown policy restricting advertising in Morning Mail to events expecting more than 300 people harms student groups. Building the Critical Theory Project has shown me how important access to Morning Mail is for forming and organizing a student group. This policy will also harm university departments and organizations (e.g. the Curricular Resource Center, Career Services) trying to spread awareness of their programs.

Though I agree that Morning Mail got a bit long last semester, I think the harm caused by losing so much information about what is happening on campus far outweighs the benefits of a shorter daily email. The BDH was right in arguing that people who skipped the Morning Mail will probably not start reading it because it contains fewer announcements. If anything, the service will lose readers as its relevance to student life declines.

The digest at the top of the Morning Mail already provides readers with a quick way to scan the contents. If it’s getting too unwieldy, maybe there should be better editing of the submissions. Thought ALL CAPS does catch the eye when it’s used in the middle of a large block of text, it will only start an ugly Morning Mail arms race. In addition, the Morning Mail administrators could create some kind of “featured events” section that would separate and highlight the biggest events. This system would catch reader’s attention while maintaining everyone’s access.

And there might be more UCS or CIS could do to help organizations advertise to the Brown community. Morning Mail already has a pretty functional website, but it could be aesthetically improved. A blog format might actually work well, since entries could be organized by tags. The content could also be used to build the kind of personalized Brown home page that some other schools have. This idea was raised in last semester’s UCS poll.

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