Christian Jurt, project lead of the Algonquin Times app, shows readers the main page of the app which will allow students to send tips, photos and story ideas to the Algonquin Times editorial team. Photo credit: Saira Qureshi

Algonquin’s students and staff can now become reporters thanks to the Algonquin Times mobile app.

The app, which was launched on Sept. 18, is available to download for free in the App Store and Play Store for Apple and Android devices, respectively. Essentially, it will provide students the opportunity to be reporters by pitching tips, pictures and story ideas to the Algonquin Times editorial team.

Every single request will be vetted by the team before a decision is made on whether or not it will be published.

“In order for students to feel engaged in the Times, they need to feel closer to it,” said Joe Banks, coordinator of Algonquin College’s journalism program.

Two years ago, Banks approached Steven Griffith, coordinator of the mobile application design and development program about his idea. The plans did not come into fruition until January 2017 when a group of students from the mobile app program took on this client request for their final semester project.

The group, called Team Jasper, consisted of seven students and it was led by Christian Jurt, who has since graduated. Jurt just completed a contract with Service Canada and is currently working on developing his own app.

He claims that one of the biggest challenges with developing the Times app was figuring out what to include in it.

“There was much debate in the team, as to what should and shouldn’t be included as well as what Joe wanted,” said Jurt. “And what we were able to actually accomplish in that amount of time.”

It was completed by the end of the semester and handed off to Alexandre Gravelle and Riley Griffith, also graduates from the mobile app program, for development and publishing.

The main feature enables any student or staff member to send in tips, story ideas or pictures.

The finalized app also includes news stories from the Algonquin Times editorial team, a calendar of events from the Students’ Association which can be expanded for further details and a social feed which includes the social media platforms for the college’s newspaper.

As the app was just released, Jurt encourages students to report any bugs or issues with the app via the Contact Us page.

Banks hopes that this app will “open up a new layer of content for the Times” as there is currently “very little reader interest” in college news.

“The key is that the students feel like somebody is responding them,” said Banks.