Neo Network Delivers a New Brand and a New Website
Television and film has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Yet the web presence for GSTV has not always reflected this.
That is changing with a new brand and a new website.
The organization has officially changed its name to the NeoNetwork (NeoN). What has not changed alongside the name is a mission to deliver both informative video content as well as creative projects in both comedic and dramatic fiction. NeoN volunteers get hands-on experiences ranging from writing to reporting to film crew management to video and audio editing. For Georgia State’s aspiring film and journalism majors, or for any other students looking to add a video element to their portfolio, NeoN provides a level of autonomy not ordinarily found in a classroom.
For the group’s Technical Advisor, Casey Williams, the name change is reflective of an evolution. Professional web companies such as Amazon, Netflix or Hulu have expanded beyond distribution towards producing their own content. Williams believes it was inevitable for GSTV to shed its skin as a “TV station” in the traditional sense of the term as students are similarly interested in emulating the look and feel of these sites.
Modern distribution continues to further itself from theatrical, television, and home video releases in favor of online streaming solutions. Now those same distribution platforms have continued that evolution by becoming the content creators themselves. They know the type of content their audience wants, the best form to release it in, and they own the distribution platform.
Entering her second year as General Manager, Katie Leaman knew what her organization’s new brand would be. Her team of volunteers had workshopped a variety of ideas to finalize the NeoN concept. What she wanted was a website that was consistent with the model of web-based video-on-demand delivery. She wanted to create the Student Media equivalent of the aforementioned websites in both function and form.
To achieve this vision, Leaman turned to a fellow Student Media leader: then-Digital Media Coordinator and current Signal Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Varitek. Under the watch of Leaman and her team, Varitek designed WatchNeoN.com, beta testing this April. Once complete, the website will feature creative series such as Dirt, The Kronos Effect and A Deer Lost in the Woods. It will also host regular episodes of Panther Report and Primetime Sportz.
Student Media redesigns are not new to Varitek. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, he redesigned The Signal’s website, which received honors from the Southeast Journalism Conference for Best College Website in its 2017 Best of the South contest. However, Varitek claims that NeoN presented some interesting challenges that the newspaper did not face. Whereas The Signal’s website was redesigned around an existing architecture, Varitek learned the experience of building an entirely new website from scratch– as well as the value of interacting with a new team of students.
The Neo Network is built entirely from scratch. That lent us some more opportunity to be creative and take some risks. I could collaborate with the NeoN team more freely to ask them what experiences they wanted to have. They wanted something that looked and felt professional enough for the actual anchors, sound techs, actors, directors and producers to distribute their work online. We all wanted a home for this content that NeoN would be proud to use.
Director for Student Media, Bryce McNeil, is aware that the new website will present its own challenges. He encourages all visitors, students and TV fans alike, to provide feedback to the NeoN team.
This stage of the process is about fine-tuning any kinks in terms of broken links and so forth. We couldn’t be happier about how it looks. The students are front-and-center in a contemporary format.
For Leaman, who returns to NeoN this upcoming year as its Head Staff Writer-Director, the project is not only a culmination of many students’ hard work, but an avenue for outside viewers to learn about them.
We hope this ushers in a new era for NeoN and Student Media. Above all else, this is a place for us to display all of the talent here at Georgia State.