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Short but sweet: Weekly 140 delivers news

Victoria Slater, Campus Editor

Senior marketing and communications major Abigail Pautz is making 140 characters mean more to the average Miami student than the latest Miami confession or attire critique from @MUFashionPolice.

As an intern for University Communications and Marketing, Pautz is helping generate a new campus media outlet called the Weekly 140, a website that provides weekly university news updates in the Twitter-like style of 140 characters. The goal, according to Pautz, is to create a more aware, connected student body in a quick, accessible fashion.

"We wanted to create a weekly news update that was unlike any of the others that already exist, like The Miami Student, The Hub, the Miami calendar or even the Facebook page," she said. "The Weekly 140 is short, to the point, providing relative news for students in one accessible place."

The idea was the brainchild of Associate Vice President of University Communications and Marketing Deedie Dowdle, and took root during fall semester after Dowdle, Pautz and several other communications interns reached out to the Associated Student Government (ASG) for more effective ways to inform students. Dowdle said the team found students were looking for more routine rundown of news and events.

Dowdle said this idea, coupled with the success of the Miami's social media, helped the team to determine the 140-character limit best accommodated quick news updates.

"Social media has become much more dominant, so we thought such news today would be much more interesting and easier to share and digest if it was in quick 'bits and bytes,' hence the Weekly 140 name, as all items are 140 characters are less," Dowdle said.  "We discussed the idea with ASG and other students around campus, the name seemed to stick."

In addition to its convenience, Dowdle said the tweet-like news updates are also more practical.

"With so much going on, it can be very difficult for campus offices and student organizations to get the word out, and it is not practical, affordable or sustainable for flyers or other material to be printed and posted," she said.

Now, Pautz is responsible for comprising the Weekly 140 website with weekly news and events. She said she and other interns collect the news from various outlets such as The Hub and the Miami University news site, condense it into 140 characters and post to the website each Monday. Students can also submit an idea to be published on the website.

According to Pautz the website was officially launched on Monday, Jan. 27 for a trial run, to correspond with the opening Armstrong Student Center (ASC).

Dowdle said the team has high hopes that students will be more receptive to the new outlet, and enjoy its style of production and content.

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"We hope this test phase will be well-received and be not only helpful, but fun, too, with items about what's buzzing on campus and online in general presented in a tone that is sometimes a tiny bit irreverent," she said.

Since the launch, Pautz reported the website has received hits from 10 percent of the student body. That may seem like a small number, but Pautz said it is significant.

"We are doing pretty well considering we are hitting the target audience and this being the first week," she said.

In order to increase traffic on the website, Pautz and the team are brainstorming ways to connect the Weekly 140 with the additional news organizations on campus.

"This includes adding a link for the Weekly 140 on the MyMiami page, the Miami webpage and the Student Life page," she said.

As the website grows, Pautz said she is looking forward to witnessing the impact it will have on the student body.

"I think this website will allow Miami students to be more informed of events and cool activates going on so they can go and show their support and take advantage of opportunities," she said. "Miami students are really passionate about things and we all put time into things and when we all get together then that's when great ideas are formed."