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Beyond the Sunset Research Guide

St. Mary's in the Popular News Media: Intro

People typically form opinions about different people, places, and things based on stories they have heard about them. One of the quickest and easiest ways people read stories is in newspapers or online, so I decided to look at where, when, and why St. Mary's has appeared in the popular news media and how it is portrayed.  

Early News History

Throughout the first 100 years of St. Mary's College of Maryland's history, the main news sources that featured stories about the school was The Sun. 

The earliest story, dating back to May 1847, is a classified ad announcing the opening of the college. It features descriptions of the dorms, instructions on how to travel to the campus, lists of courses and their prices, and the names of several faculty members.

For about the first 50 years of its existence, mentions of the school mainly appeared in classified ads in The Sun. Adsincluded  commencement announcements, start of semester announcements, and on-campus rental information.

News stories specifically about the college did not begin appearing until the early 1900's, one of the earliest being a story from 1907 about artifacts found in historic St. Mary's city

In the 1920's, The Sun featured a number of significant news stories about the school:


In the 1960's and 70's, The Sun began featuring more stories about student and faculty protests including dress code violation protestsfaculty grievances with the school president at the time, and a $1 million lawsuit filed by a teacher against the president and trustees.

In 1998, 5 St. Mary's students were sexually assaulted while on an educational tour in Guatemala. The story reached national headlines, including appearing in the New York Times, and raised questions about protection against sexual assault for college students studying abroad. 

Who's Writing About Us?

The news sources that have featured the most stories about St. Mary's College of Maryland in the 21st century are

Southern Maryland News Net

  • Started in 2011
  • From their website “In just a few short years, Southern Maryland News Net has become the top online news resource for all of Southern Maryland."
  • Typically report on crimes committed on campus and college rankings


SoMd News

  • SoMd News, formerly the Enterprise Newspaper, has been “Serving St. Mary's County since 1883”
  • Their main headquarters is in White Plains, Maryland, but the Enterprise Branch is based in California, MD
  • Typically report on sporting events and some theatrical events 


The Baltimore Sun

  • Started in 1837, making it the oldest news source to feature news about St. Mary's
  • Based out of Baltimore, MD
  • Typically report on sporting events, college rankings, and some opinion pieces


The Washington Post

  • Started in 1877, features the largest readership compared to the previous three news sources
  • Based out of Washington, DC
  • Typically report on sporting events, college rankings, on-campus crimes, and other issues with the school

Who's Reading About Us?

Southern Maryland News Net

  • According to their website, their reach "an average of 150,000 readers per month, and have more than 30,000 fans on Facebook.”

SoMd News

  • Does not post their circulation 

The Baltimore Sun

  • Has a daily print circulation of between 130,000 and 250,000, and a daily readership of around 370,000

  • List their readership demographics as 42% Men and 58% Women, with a median reader age of 54

  • 32% of their readers are college graduates

  • 73% of their readers are homeowners

The Washington Post

  • Has a daily print circulation of 470,000

  • 9 million online users, 82% of which are from outside the DC area

  • 72% of readers are college graduates, and 42% have post-graduate degrees

  • 50% of their readers are between the ages of 35 and 60

What Are People Saying?

Modern news media features an interesting aspect not possible with print media, instantaneous and anonymous reader comments.

Southern Maryland News Net, which features the lowest readership out of the three news sources profiled, actually features the most user comments on news stories related to St. Mary's.

Anonymous comments from an article on the Dorch Arson Cases: 

  • “That’s what liberals do for attention.”

  • “Well, it is a LIBERAL arts college. I’m sure this clown is just acting out, due to the massive loss by the Democrats and their queen, Hillary.”

  • “Sorry to burst your bubble, but the place is still a joke. Used to be a good college in the 80’s, till the crazy liberal wannabe wine maker ran it into the ground. Now run off to your safe zone and have a good cry.”

  • “That liberal breeding ground needs to lose its certification and be turned into a state run adult daycare faculty. It would be an appropriate change.”


Anonymous comments from an article on lack of investigation into sexual assault on campus:

  • “It’s easier for the college to cover it up when the police are not involved. We won’t see any follow up on this because it will just go away.”

  • “In fact, the college has one of the highest reporting rates of sexual assault in the country – that changed after some Title IX violations a few years ago. Google it. Doesn’t mean other universities are nessessarily[sic] any safer – just that St Marys is reporting extensively now. when there isn’t a report to local authorities, its because the victim has made that decision, but stats and news are still made public.”

  • “Written by an idiot perhaps.” “Well this is Southern Maryland, what more can one expect?”

  • “Maybe it is being written the way it is because they want SMCSO to investigate and/or bring light to the fact that the school isn’t reporting assaults that have been reported to them and they should. Not rocket surgery here….SMNewsNet is trying to bring attention to something that is serious and possibly being swept under the run.”

  • “Dad needs to come down to the college and take care of business that’s obvious. The no balls people at the college can’t and this county has to many issues as there punishments rarely fit the crime. I’ve seen people with 4 or 5 DWI in court and still have a license. Point is my daughter the investigation would be completed for sure.”

  • “SMCM = Rape U ?”


Comments on articles from The Washington Post are clearly coming from a very different demographic than those readers in Southern Maryland. 


Comments from an article on the Natty Boh Hunt Incident:

  • “Oh my, beer cans with the confederate flag on them? An isolated, idiotic swastika incident? I've never seen such things in southern Maryland. Oh wait, yes I have. I saw it all the time when I attended St. Mary's from 2000-04. I also saw constant petit crime such as small incidents of arson. But now it's all racially motivated I suppose. The administration had its collective head up its rear end back then, but at least the college was highly ranked. Now it still can't find its head and the college has plummeted in terms of national regard. Keep up the fine work.”

  • “Confederate flags in western MD? Shocking. Some local dweeb is looking for her 15 minutes of fame.”

  • “this place used to be the honors college. now they can't fill the place. shut it down”

  • “St. Mary's is harboring a nest of vipers.”

  • “As a student at St. Mary's College, I want to know why all we focus on is the negative aspect of every issue? This Wednesday and Thursday, St. Mary's and the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a forum in Baltimore on Economic Inequality. In every corner of the world there are people who act from hate or stupidity. But there is a more passionate and louder majority who act to tackle the issues facing our nation and world. As a student who helped organize and attend this incredible and inspiring event, why can't we focus on the positive work of so many from this institution?”

  • “positive inspiring stories don't sell. THIS stuff does. I thought that, by now, everybody had learnt that simple fact of life. we like salacious gossip and scandalous events. a forum on Economic Inequality is neither salacious nor scandalous.”


Comments from an article on tuition cuts:

  • “heard there is LOTS of drinking”

  • “At a college? Inconceivable!”

  • “Change the name! Too many potential students assume it's a Catholic school.”

  • “Good place to go if you were skipping school - in HS …”

  • “St. John's Pond was a great place for a birthday swim. I wonder if the kids still do that.”


Comments from an article on low enrollment:

  • “There is a very dedicated community that loves the school. They may not always agree with each other on the details, but one thing that they do all agree on is that St. Mary's College is an educational jewel in the public sector, and that it will keep helping talented young people to reach their fullest potential for generations to come.”