Back in 2010, The Essay Magazine was created by a video production student at Ohio University named Mylan Cannon. Personally, we don’t know Mylan. He works at The Boston Globe now and interned at the White House, which is very admirable. He wrote a letter at the start of the decade that expressed the uncertainty that swirled around the field of journalism. Essentially, if one does not change with the times, they will be forgotten.
The Essay started with 25 students whose talents ranged from writers, photographers and videographers to web developers and communication coordinators.
Last year, we hovered around 15 members and have seen a constant dwindling of interest in our publication, with site views nearing zero on most days.
We published new stories every few months or so, and although a lot of them were very well-written and interesting, did not get the attention we believe they could have.
Story ideas in the past few years have been recycled from previous years and this frustrated us. We know what the best coffee shops are, the mistakes freshmen can avoid when they first enter school and how to party responsibly. This isn’t journalism, nor is it the intention of The Essay.
The Essay has been forgotten.
This year, we are not trying to reinvent the way journalism is conducted. Instead, we’re changing with the times, a practice every successful enterprise does.
We don’t have the resources to write breaking news of the day or sports recaps as well as The Post. We can’t publish a magazine you can hold in your hand as beautiful as Backdrop. Too much emphasis in the past was put on competing with campus publications when instead we should have been producing the best possible material we can.
This year, we have refocused. You will find that we have narrowed our categories down to Profiles, Features and Events. “It’s About The People’s Stories,” The Essay’s long-standing mantra, will once again be brought to the forefront as the basis of our publication.
Profiles will consist of people in the Athens community or people who have affected it. More often than not, people are better expressed through what they say versus what somewhat says about them; Q&A’s will be used as a way to get constant material out to readers.
We have also started an Instagram, TheEssayMagazine, where we will post a picture of an Ohio University student or Athens guest or resident and get their take on the world around them. We will post once a day, Monday through Friday.
Features will allow some of the most talented writers and videographers on campus to produce a package on trending topics in the community. How has Athens bar culture affected student performance? How has a Mid-American Conference school become one of the most respected sports fan bases in the Midwest, and perhaps, the country? In a town surrounded by a dreadful drug problem, has Athens been able to cope with it? It’s things like these that intrigue us.
We want to be able to tie these ideas to particular people who can best tell the story.
Events is our attempt to keep the site busy with new content. We want to be able to incorporate people into how an event takes place. 85 people arrested on 124 charges at 12Fest? We want to know the story of the craziest kid there. Is the research done by graduate students in the School of Engineering that could change the landscape of tomorrow? Show me how, now.
This school year, we are striving to get back to the basics and write about the people around us. Freshmen, seek an Ohio University student’s advice on why Athens is one of the most unique places they’ve ever been. Because it is. And the goal of The Essay is to show you how.
Here’s to nothing.
Colin Hanner & Amanda DePerro