St. Thomas enters the post-newspaper future

In April, I passed along the news that St. Thomas was killing off its venerable campus paper, the Aquin, and going all-in on the digital future with a new site, TommieMedia.com. It went live yesterday, and it’s good-looking.

Of course, the “convergence site” is a multimedia deal, combining former print and TV staffs while blending in radio and p.r. for a single 40-person operation. J-prof Mark Neuzil (disclaimer: MinnPost contributor) believes St. Thomas is the first Minnesota school to completely ditch print, possibly the first in the country, and certainly the first college AP member to go all-online.

The site promises daily news content, and a quick spin around the site shows some nice video-text collaborations. The layout is remarkably clean and the RSS feeds are prominent. There are also Twitter and Facebook come-ons, though they weren’t hotlinked. I’m surprised video isn’t embeddable, and there aren’t distinct links in the address bar.

While I remain a huge print fan, it’s hard to argue with a future-oriented university attempting this. Like many publishers, Tommiemedia honchos promise more through synergy. It’ll be fun to see if that petri dish produces results, and readers.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ann McGinn on 09/09/2009 - 04:20 pm.

    I know the demise of print is inevitable, but every time a periodical folds, it hurts my heart. As a graduate of the St. Thomas MBA program and reader of The Aquin for many years, I’m especially sad.

    I’m into online news and sites. But no matter how full of the latest technology, online media will; never replace hard copy periodicals and books. It’s a mistake to dump print media just because there’s also the ability to have an online site. They should be complementary, not either or.

    Oh well, years from now there will be an effort to restore print media, just as trolleys are coming back into vogue. Another case of not appreciating what’s available until it’s gone.

  2. Submitted by Ellery Luse on 09/09/2009 - 05:27 pm.

    By replacing the print newspaper, The Aquin, TommieMedia.com reflects the realities of today’s journalism and media, and will provide better opportunities for students to develop key professional skills. Future opportunities in news and media will require many talents — or the singular talent of being able to work with others to produce multimedia packages.

    As a student at the University of St. Thomas and the Public Relations Manager for TommieMedia.com I feel that the student-led, student-run component of TommieMedia.com far exceeds the abilities that The Aquin gave our students. The real life experience a student is able to gain in TommieMedia.com is far greater than what The Aquin was capable of. Staff members learn aspects valuable to both futures of print and broadcast journalism.

    The online aspect of TommieMedia.com reflects the changing demographics and desires of our campus. Students are far more likely to check a website than pick up a newspaper. We also reflect the University’s desire to move toward a sustainable lifestyle, TommieMedia.com is paperless and will cut down on our campus’s carbon footprint significantly.

    I hope that our students, alumni and community will look at these changes in a positive manner. It is important for our university to prepare students for the future and TommieMedia.com is a reflection of that.

  3. Submitted by Ann McGinn on 09/09/2009 - 07:10 pm.

    Multimedia is defined as using more than one medium of expression. It’s a shame that St. Thomas chose to use the online mode of expression to the exclusion of print media. The Aquin has a long and proud tradition which should not be considered unimportant or easily dismissable.

    Preparation for the future should not necessitate devaluing the past or losing the knowledge that can be gained by working in print media. I gained much in my years of experience and wish that students still had that opportunity. Electronic media is not, and cannot be, the exclusive means of expression.

  4. Submitted by Richard Parker on 09/10/2009 - 02:34 am.

    Well put, Ann. I just have to get this off my chest, then I’ll be OK. I was an Aquin writer and photographer in the early to mid-1960s, and editor-in-chief of the 1963 and ’64 editions of the Aquinas, the all-print, once-a-year St. Thomas yearbook, then served as faculty adviser of both from 1967-69. In those years we shunned the spelling “Tommie” because it seemed kind of sissified — style on our publications called for “Tommy.” But I realize times change, and I’m proud that my daughter is a Class of 2000 Tommie chemistry grad, magna cum laude.

    In retirement from a 37-year newspaper stretch, I’m co-editor of an online-only newsletter for the Twin Cities Jazz Society and write occasionally for its older print companion, which we encourage members to receive by e-mail to save printing and mailing costs. I think Father Whalen and Don Leyden would be proud that St. Thomas is an academic leader in adopting the new media, and I am, too. Nevertheless, it gives me a twinge to see the print version of the Aquin disappear. I don’t buy the argument that it saves trees and reduces the university’s carbon footprint by any significant amount. The press run of the Aquin just wasn’t that big.

    I’m old, so it’s natural for me to lament the passing of printed pages that you can hold in your hands and file away, if they’re special, in cardboard boxes to be exhumed for 40th and 50th reunions. I hope the data-storage formats of today’s hard disks and CDs will be understandable a half-century from now, so tomorrow’s geezers will be able to revisit the Aquin (and Aquinas?).

    That said, congratulations and best of luck in moving ahead with convergence.

    Dick Parker, St. Thomas ’64

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