Story Ideas: A Tech Issue, The Minaret, University of Tampa

It is a smorgasbord of social media reports, new media commentaries, and newsy glimpses at online and electronic innovations. Earlier today, The Minaret, the University of Tampa student newspaper I am proud to advise, unveiled its first full-blown Tech Issue.

Purposefully published amid the hype and chatter of “The Social Network,” the issue is singularly focused on trends, performances, and products in some way related to our high-tech, wireless world (wide web).

Among the content highlights: reports on Facebook stalking, student-teacher Facebook relationships, and Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD); commentaries on society’s burgeoning textspeak, sexting, Facebook relationship statuses, media’s future, and the iPhone’s (in)ability to make its users cool; reviews of and responses to “Social Network” (duh); and sporting looks at the growing reliance on instant replay and student-athletes’ social media restrictions.

Minaret assistant editor in chief Michael Trobiano also brought his design A-game to the issue, delivering a front page modeled after a Facebook profile.  In another creative twist, staff writer Richard Solomon penned a first-person essay reflecting on his attempt at a new media blackout.

Separately, an editorial by editor in chief Alex Vera, “Think Before You Tweet,” discusses the need for some social media life-sharing restraint, especially in the wake of the Rutgers student tragedy.  Vera’s treatise is complemented by an editorial cartoon that continues to haunt me.  As shown below, the image by Nathaniel St. Amour depicts a tiny individual on a nondescript bridge, the specters of Facebook and Twitter above him and the swirling sea below- all waiting to swallow him whole.

Theme issues or dedicated pull-outs are wonderful ways to occasionally break from the routine- for staff and readers.  The most popular special issues from student papers seem to be sex issues, April Fool’s issues, and green issues (covering environmental news and views).  The Minaret‘s first attempt at a tech-only edition is not perfect, but it does prove that new media and technology are apt for an issue all their own.

And by the way, my favorite headline in the issue, atop an op-ed attacking texting’s language abuses: “OMG FML: Textspeak a Sharpened Dagger Bleeding English Language Dry, TTYL.”

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