Skip to content

Extra! Extra!

Black and white and read all over campus. Read all about The Shorthorn, UTA’s student newspaper.
by Hillary Green

Illustration by Phil Wrigglesworth

In a quiet newsroom, a computer monitor blinks to life, a precursor of the activity to come. Some 50 writers, editors, photographers, and designers descend to the E. H. Hereford University Center basement. Soon the room is bustling as staff members produce content for The Shorthorn website—which already has more than 1.2 million views this academic year—and for the 10,000 newspapers distributed weekly around the campus and to local businesses.

The Shorthorn is a compilation of news and events happening around the UTA campus, but in the hands of the reader, it becomes something else: not only a compendium of information, but also access to the bigger picture of life at UTA and a strengthened connection to the Maverick community.

Now in its 98th year of publication, the newspaper embraces the dichotomy of the journalism industry at large, where tradition and evolution must stay in lockstep. The Shorthorn's dedication to staying true to journalistic fundamentals while pushing boundaries is evident in the prodigious skills students develop while working there. The journalists, designers, multimedia staff, and communication experts of tomorrow are honing their crafts on the UTA campus today.

The Shorthorn newsroom

The newsroom is often filled with students working toward the next deadline.


These exceptional skills have garnered national attention for the students, who were recognized last October with a second Pacemaker award. Given by the Associated Collegiate Press, the Pacemaker is the pre-eminent recognition given to collegiate student media. News organizations are judged on a variety of factors, including consistent excellence in editorial judgment, reporting, editing, design, and photography.

"We have all those things and more, and we always strive to be the best. That's why we won again," says organizational communications senior Anna Gutierrez, who served as Shorthorn editor-in-chief from May to December 2016.

While the recognition is always appreciated, Gutierrez and her fellow "Shorties"—a nickname for staff members—keep their focus on producing a quality product.

"I was excited we won, but we have to keep working at it," she says. "We have to keep doing the best journalism we can."

In addition to the Pacemaker, The Shorthorn was honored with more than 75 state, regional, and national awards for its online and print work during the last academic year.

Consistency in reporting, photography, design, and editing are key to the paper's success, both in awards and in circulation. Laurie Fox, Shorthorn editorial adviser and Shorthorn alumna, says tradition also plays a role.

"We don't have to keep reinventing the wheel because we do it right the first time," Fox says.

That tradition has built an extensive network of alumni and supporters. Hundreds of Shorthorn alumni now serve in a number of roles at news organizations across the state and nation, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Texas Tribune, USA Today, and The Star-Telegram.

Building on this tradition, alumni give back to the University by sharing their professional expertise with Shorthorn students. Director of Publications Beth Francesco, also a Shorthorn alumna, says the paper brings in over 50 speakers with professional journalism and communications backgrounds each year. No matter what industry the speakers are from, Francesco says they all have the same message for students: Know how to do everything.

From The Source


“At The Shorthorn, we were taught to always think digital first—how can I get the most accurate story to my readers as quickly as possible on whichever medium necessary?”

Laura Woodside ’15

Editorial Designer
with Observer Media Group

“I learned a lot about advertising and marketing while working for The Shorthorn, but the most important thing I learned in my time there was how to take pride in what I do. That’s The Shorthorn’s culture.”

Max Briese ’15

Digital & Social Analyst
with Moroch Partners

“I remember in my early semesters having a bunch of different beats, set up by schools or departments. There was nothing better than the feeling of truly understanding your campus.”

Johnathan Silver ’14

Criminal Justice Reporter
with The Texas Tribune

“Now storytellers need to use text, photo, video, and interactive websites to tell a story. Working at the digital-first Shorthorn helped me embrace those skills.”

Dustin Dangli ’12

Communications Coordinator
for the City of Colleyville

Kristianna Davied and Cody Bahn

Kristianna Davied, copy desk chief, and Cody Bahn, digital managing editor.


At The Shorthorn, knowing how to do everything includes all things digital. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Americans often obtain their news online. News received via a mobile device reaches up to 72 percent of users. After taking a survey of Shorthorn readers, the paper found that their audience was similar: They wanted the news, and they wanted it delivered directly to them.

The Shorthorn made the change to a digital-first strategy in 2012. The paper was one of the first five student papers in the nation to make the switch from daily to weekly print publications.

To ensure the important news of the day was still being delivered to the UTA community, the paper created a daily e-newsletter. The digital publication has built its audience to over 55,000 daily subscribers.

"We enhanced our print and gave it more of an identity."

While many schools have completely abandoned printing papers altogether, The Shorthorn holds on to the tradition of the paper while embracing new technology.

"We didn't ditch our print," Francesco says. "We enhanced our print and gave it more of an identity than it had before."

What the Shorties report on hasn't changed, just how it's being presented to the readers. Campus events like Oozeball will always be an opportunity for exhilarating and inspiring photography. Those photos no longer depend on column inches available, but on online multimedia galleries. Student reporters still hustle for breaking news, now alerting the UTA community via the paper's Twitter account instead of the next day's paper.

Fox says no matter the platform, it all starts with solid content.

"It all has to be good," she says. "The delivery model has to be strong. We have to link it to strong content, and it has to drive traffic."

Fit To Print: The Earlier Years

An original Shorthorn paper


The Shorthorn is established

The first issue debuted in April and was 48 pages long. It featured a bull in a bull’s- eye on the cover. From there, the publication was released each month in a 6-inch by 9-inch format.

A new format Shorthorn paper


The format changes

The Shorthorn began to look a little closer to its current iteration, switching from the old format to the traditional newspaper.

The daily Shorthorn papers


The Shorthorn goes daily

Following stints as a biweekly and a weekly publication, The Shorthorn went daily in ’77.

The online Shorthorn paper


Digital shake-up

In fall 2012, The Shorthorn switched to a multiplatform, digital-first publication, transitioning to a publishing schedule that includes daily online publication and a weekly print edition.

Sorayah Zahir

Sorayah Zahir, associate news editor.


In addition to a digital-first strategy, The Shorthorn saw a window to expand initiatives while increasing experiential learning opportunities for students. Creative Services, housed under Student Publications, utilizes the paper's existing training, facilities, and equipment in an innovative way to meet commercial photography and videography needs across campus.

"It provides students who want to learn multimedia skills an opportunity to do that."

Students working in Creative Services gain experience working with clients, developing storyboards, and responding to customers' needs.

"It provides students who want to learn multimedia skills an opportunity to do that without necessarily being journalism-related," says Gutierrez.

Students working in Creative Services are able to garner hands-on knowledge of how corporate communications and multimedia operate before they even graduate.

The experience and skills gained through their work at The Shorthorn and Creative Services prepare UTA graduates to enter the workforce a notch ahead of their competitors.

Narda Perez and Chanel Sassoon

Narda Perez (left), news editor, and Chanel Sassoon, news reporter.


In an era of fake news and a lack of trust in the media, The Shorthorn is preparing students with the skills needed to excel in their industry.

"With the next wave of journalism I think it's all about community and source development," Gutierrez says. Working with UTA and the City of Arlington, Shorties build trust by cultivating relationships with the officials on their beat, as well as the community around them.

As The Shorthorn grows, the strength of the student reporters grows as well. By creating a culture dependent on the ability to be adaptable and nimble, students enter the workforce with a passion for journalism and experience in pushing for something new.

Adviser Fox sums up the ethos of The Shorthorn aptly, saying, "We go toward the news and we hope for the best."

You might also like