“The Shorthorn” continues online transition through spring semesterMary-Emily Boedeker
“The Shorthorn,” the University of Texas at Arlington’s student newspaper, made the switch from print to digital in the fall of 2012 and continues the transition this semester.
The newspaper staff decided to join the ranks of other publications that transitioned to digital, which makes UTA one of the only universities in Texas with a mostly online newspaper. E-newsletter manager and copy editor Francisco Jose Villarreal said the change has been a good one.
“We’re industry leaders,” Villarreal said. “It’s a learning process, but we’re constantly improving at the same time.”
The first issue of “The Shorthorn” appeared in April 1919 before evolving into an actual newspaper in 1921. It became a daily paper in 1977 and in the fall of 2012 switched to weekly publication while moving content online. Readers now see new printed copies every Wednesday and the same stories, plus more content, on theshorthorn.com
Though Villarreal said the shift is mostly positive, he was apprehensive about the online transition and knew changes were needed. In order to get readers more interested in the online aspect, he revamped the E-newsletter by using shorter teases and even adding a “word of the day” for readers to find.
In order to keep the transition moving steadily, “The Shorthorn” made some changes after their first semester of going online. Two new job titles were created to make both print and online editions more aesthetically pleasing. Instead of having one managing editor covering print and another managing online, they now have one for presentation and one for content, and both cover print and online.
The presentation managing editor is in charge of keeping the newspaper as visually pleasing as possible, while the content managing editor keeps track of what exactly goes into the paper.
Adding jobs such as these help keep “The Shorthorn” at the same level of quality as other publications in the industry. Adviser Beth Francesco Currie said the newspaper models almost every step of their process after professional colleagues and considers the staff an adaptable one.
Copy desk Chief Rebekah Tomlin, who has been at “The Shorthorn” for almost a year, said the transition online has improved a lot. Tomlin and copy editor Riece Raudry agreed that between the two mediums, print is more difficult.
“Print has to be marinated,” Raudry said jokingly, referring to the work done on each story before its publication.
Another change made this semester included keeping print copies relevant while sitting on newsstands for a week. Now each story in print usually contains an online element, such as videos or polls pertaining to the topic.
An online tease page is also included in the print paper in an effort to bring more readers to the website and become more involved.
“I feel confident about the transition,” Villarreal said. “The focus on digital keeps the lines of communication with readers more open. We’re giving readers what they want and how they want it.”