Academy’s student newspaper leaps into 21st Century
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
Members of the Dart staff review a podcast, prepared by Sydney Deatherage, online editor, who is seated at the left, next to print editor Rosie Hodes. Standing from left are Kayla Loosen, Morgan Said, Betsy Tampke & Michelle Reichmeier.
KANSAS CITY - They’re hooked.
“My life revolves around the newspaper,” said Morgan Said, managing editor of the Web site for the Dart, student newspaper at St. Teresa’s Academy.
“It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night,” she said.
Their advisor and journalism teacher Eric Thomas admitted to receiving stories by e-mail at some odd times in the wee hours of the morning.
“I can’t help but think, did they get up early to write this or did they stay up late?” he said.
Such is life at the Dart, and it is going to get a whole lot more interesting and busy this school year. On Sept. 4, the Dart staff officially launched Dart News Online www.dartnewsonline.com a three-year dream of Sydney Deatherage, the first online editor at St. Teresa’s Academy.
‘The reason Mr. Thomas picked me (as online editor) is that I’ve been obsessing about the Web site for three years,” she said. “So he said, ‘Let’s get a staff together.”’
Dart News Online will work with a five-person staff that will complement the 22-member staff of the print edition Dart.
Dart print editor Rosie Hodes said there won’t be any competition between the two efforts. “There hasn’t been so far,” she said.
In fact, both staffs will work back and forth together on both products, although each will have its distinct personality.
The Dart has a long tradition of solid student journalism, but Thomas could see the direction the newspaper industry is heading.
That made him more determined to beef up the Dart’s online product and prepare his students, should they desire one, for journalism careers of the future.
“I didn’t want to prepare them for jobs that might not be there,” he said. “This is a new media.”
“It will be just like a newspaper, only online,” said Deatherage.
Well, not exactly, she admitted. Dart News Online will have 10 student-directed interactive ‘blogs’ online gathering spots on topics ranging from Catholic spirituality to popular culture. It will also have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel called Dart Tube.
The Web site will also produce its own stories, such as the video story Deatherage completed on Parents’ Night. It will also contain stories from the print edition Dart, but not until the print edition hits the newsstands.
Admittedly, the freewheeling nature of interactive Web sites has led to some interesting and in-depth discussions between the newspaper staff and the school administration.
But the newspaper staff knows that the Web site will be a very public face of St. Teresa’s Academy and will take that responsibility seriously.
“Nothing will get published on line until I read it,” said Morgan Said, the managing editor. ‘That includes the comments on the blogs.”
“The online Dart won’t replace the print Dart,” Thomas said.
The print edition is a valuable marketing tool that can be easily sent to prospective students and their parents. He also noted that he can go to the school library and read 69 years worth of Darts. You can’t bind and store a Web site for history, he said.
Besides, said editor Rosie Hodes, there is nothing like the rush when the freshly printed newspaper is delivered on campus.
“My favorite part is seeing everybody on the quad with their nose in the newspaper. You’re sitting there saying, ‘I did that,”’ she said. “You can’t see people reading a Web page.”