St. Bonaventure has become the first university to buy a TAPinto website franchise and has launched TAPinto Greater Olean so that its journalism students can provide hyperlocal online news to communities surrounding the university.
TAPinto has 46 franchises in New Jersey and five in New York state, said Michael Shapiro, co-founder and chief executive officer of TAPinto. Shapiro, an attorney, started the company with his wife, Lauryn Shapiro, in 2008 to provide their hometown of New Providence, N.J., with daily news from its own residents, he said.
Partnering with TAPinto was proposed by Dr. Richard Lee, associate professor of journalism, and Anne Lee, an adjunct instructor of journalism, to replace The Convergence, an online local news site produced since 2014 by students in the six-credit Journalists’ Workshop course.
“With TAPinto, everything comes pre-packaged so Anne and I can spend most of our time on journalism as opposed to formatting and other technical issues,” Richard Lee said. “Plus, TAP offers tutorials and training, which we’ve used with our students, and TAP sites share content. Several other TAP sites just posted a story one of our students wrote.”
Anne Lee worked for Dorf Feature Service, an affiliate of the Newark Star-Ledger, for 25 years, where her various positions included obituary editor and 12 years as editor of the In the Towns community news sections. She began her career as women’s editor of the Amsterdam Recorder.
“TAPinto Greater Olean is much like that the job I used to have at Dorf but in a 21st century format,” she said. “These days, I am working with students at my alma mater to bring news to the area community. In my years at Dorf, I worked with interns from Rutgers as well as recent graduates of various colleges.”
Richard Lee has worked for several news organizations, including the former News Tribune of Woodbridge, N.J., where he covered state government and politics as the newspaper’s State House correspondent.
“Because I follow the media industry closely, I have been impressed with TAP and its success for several years,” he said. “St. Bonaventure’s partnership with TAP is a tremendously exciting development not only for our students, but also for the Greater Olean community which will benefit from their work.”
TAPinto Greater Olean features reporting by St. Bonaventure students on news that happens in Olean, Allegany, Hinsdale, Franklinville, Cuba and other nearby municipalities, unlike campus media entities such as The Bona Venture and The Intrepid that concentrate on campus events and issues.
“I think that is good for the students because your first job if you’re going into journalism will likely be at the local level or it might be something entrepreneurial that you are creating yourself,” said Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, dean of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “I think this project and this class will train you to be able to do any of those things.”
Dr. Denny Wilkins, professor of journalism, said TAPinto Greater Olean provides a more realistic reporting experience than The Bona Venture or The Intrepid.
“Too many students these days tend to have weak conversational and social skills,” he said. “They don’t like going out and meeting people and asking them for information when they don’t know them. So when they do stories, they always come to us, the professors that they know.”
The combined population of the area covered by TAPinto Greater Olean is about 50,000 people, Shapiro said.
Hoffman said that while profit is not the primary goal, there are plans in the works to start selling advertising on the site to create a revenue stream for the program.
“In addition to telling stories and covering the community, students would be able to learn the business side of journalism,” Hoffmann said.
TAPinto’s network of websites had more than 4 million unique users in the past year and 1.2 million page views in the past month, Michael Shapiro said.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
Application forms, procedures and additional information
There are many ways to experience
St. Bonaventure for yourself
Learn more about the programs that interest you