Tam O'Shanter now online
Southmoreland High School's newspaper, the Tam O'Shanter, can now be found online.
The move was made on a small basis in May with a few articles sampled on the website, but early this school year it was integrated into Chuck Brittain's journalism courses.
“We had a meeting over the summer where we decided whether we wanted to do it or not,” explained Sarah Levine, a senior who serves as news editor for the paper. “(Brittain) suggested it, and we just fed off of that.”
It's a technologically savvy world and most newspapers have a web presence. It seemed to be a natural step for the Tam O'Shanter to take.
Brenton DeFlitch, an English teacher at the high school and adviser of the school yearbook, was instrumental in researching the process of taking the paper online.
“This is essential for all students to be successful in the future,” DeFlitch said. “Students today Tweet and Status Update, but rarely does it seem they kick back on the porch with the daily paper in their hand. However, they are interested in the happenings of the world and the school. Going online uses the medium they use the most and delivers well-written articles and pieces from the student body. Furthermore, it builds a positive student culture.”
Members of the Tam O'Shanter staff are aware of the multiple advantages of having their paper online.
“More stories are getting in here quicker. You don't have to worry about the timeline of when the paper is going to come out,” said Zoe Ripple, special projects editor. “Seeing something that is important to you not just on a sheet a paper, but a story on the website is much more interesting to that person than being published in the paper. My story is out for everyone to see not just who buys the paper here.”
“I like how quickly you can get the stories out,” added Jacob Hixson, co-editor. “I saw on Triblive two stories that we had on our website were out either on the day of or prior to the Trib having them. I thought that was pretty cool.”
It has been customary for the staff to publish four editions each school year. That will probably continue to be the case this school year. A web presence allows for more stories to be seen and those to come out in a more timely and immediate nature.
“Students' excitement when writing about an event often deteriorated by the time the print version was released to the school,” DeFlitch said. “Now we can have an exciting soccer game on Thursday and have the article posted with pictures or video on Friday. It creates excitement about writing and further embracing becoming journalists.”
Looking into that profession is something many members of the Tam O'Shanter staff said they are considering.
“Ever since I was little I always wrote stories,” said Maria Garlowich, special features editor. “I always loved to write and writing is there for me, so I took on journalism because I thought it would be fun. Now I want to major in communications.”
Now they have another step to take to help them in that field if they so choose.
The first story from a member of the staff to make its way online was written by Kerigan Fabery, features editor when she was a freshman.
“It was a really cool feeling,” she said. “As soon as you clicked on the site, mine showed up. I've never really gotten recognized for writing before and I love it. It was really exciting.”
Brittain said the paper is connected with the Journalism Education Association, allowing stories to appear on that website.
“It's very easy for us to link our stories to that site and you can go on and read them,” Brittain said. “They pick out some of the better stories and put them on the national edition. It kind of steers people to their stories.”
Staff members admit to some satisfaction in being the first class to have a newspaper web presence.
“I feel like you guys really set the bar for us,” said Fabery, a sophomore ‘We're really going to have to step it up.”
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or ppaterra @tribweb.com.