‘True College News’ brings satire to campus, delights students
By DELLA HETHCOX
Della Hethcox: Why was TCN created? Was there a breaking point that led to the creation of TCN? In other words, it this website an outlet for frustrations with the University?
True College News: The original idea wasn’t for it to be an outlet. Some friends and I came up with the idea that Hurley was retiring to become a bridge troll, and I thought it would be a hilarious news-style article that a lot of people would want to read.
It wasn’t because I have anything against President Hurley, and the farewell at the end of the article was totally sincere. The only article I would say was driven by frustration was the UC article, which even sounded a little angry, I think. The rest were just ridicule for the sake of entertainment.
DH: When did the site go live?
TCN: It’s been online since mid-December, but we didn’t want to publicize it until we had a decent amount of content. We started getting views the first week of spring semester.
DH: When did the site first take off/ start gaining attention from students?
TCN: I was surprised how many hits we got the first day we put ourselves out there. A few people shared the articles and we just got flooded. People would be surprised how many clicks their shares on Facebook get.
DH: Who is behind the website? A team, an individual? (Please only answer with what information you feel comfortable sharing)
TCN: There’s definitely one person doing the majority of the work right now. I have a writing and editing background as well as some experience doing simple web design, so it hasn’t been too stressful. I’d like to bring more people on in time, but right now it’s a small team.
DH: If your target audience is UMW students, why do you think this type of journalism appeals to them? For example, I first saw TCN with the UC article and found the sardonic tone appealing, thanks to my proclivity for faux news and student affairs.
TCN: UMW students are definitely the target demo, but we’d also like to establish an alumni readership. I think people like to laugh, and to some degree, a lot of the stuff that’s been happening at the university lately has been kind of ridiculous. So why not?
It’s like, if we suddenly nearly doubled the size of the freshman class and kick upperclassmen out of a bunch of dorms, is it that unlikely that parking management would get rid of all but one space? Obviously we don’t want people to take this stuff seriously, but maybe we should think about how the school is treating us. Since we’re all having a good laugh anyway.
DH: Following up on the previous questions, have you noticed this type of satirical, Onion- esque journalism at other colleges?
TCN: Nope! I haven’t seen anything like that. But if there are any other schools reading this who want their own TCN page… wink wink.
DH: What value do you think TCN adds to the student community?
TCN: I don’t know, man. That’s deep stuff. I just want people to laugh.
DH: Are there future plans for the website? I saw a contributing reporter wrote a piece on the parking issue, can we expect more content like that?
TCN: I’m pretty ambitious and optimistic about what the site can be. We’re focusing on UMW stories right now because that’s what we’re closest to, but we’d really like to expand to other Virginia schools.
We’d love to have a bunch of contributors. It was really lucky to have such a good contributor send something in early on, and he’s probably going to be a regular. He’s already submitted another article, so that’s exciting.
DH: Is there a publishing schedule? If there is, how many articles are you trying to produce per week?
TCN: There’s not a hard and fast schedule yet, we’re trying to get a few articles out every week. It depends a lot on my schedule at this point. Ideally, as we grow, I won’t be the only person editing, we’ll get more contributors, and things will speed up.
DH: How are you reaching your demographic? If so, how? Social media? Word of mouth?
TCN: We haven’t spent any money on advertising. We’re relying completely on people sharing and talking about the site right now, and so far that’s worked pretty well. We may start using some targeted advertising, but since there’s no revenue from the site, we’re limited in how we can spend money.
DH: What are some of the TCN staff’s favorite pieces?
TCN: All of them! But seriously, I think we’re most proud of the bridge troll piece and the UC story.
DH: So far, what has been the most popular article in terms of sharing via social media?
TCN: The one with the most hits so far has been the UC article, I was surprised how many people shared that one.
DH: Is there anything you want students/people to know about TCN? Or something I forgot to ask that is an important part of your story?
TCN: I’d like people to know that we’re open to freelancers. We take unsolicited submissions, and the good stuff gets published. You could be famous!
To see more stories from TCN, visit http://umw.truecollegenews.com/ or their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/umwtruecollegenews/?fref=ts