Western Michigan University Professor Sue Ellen Christian says her conversations with Encore Editor Marie Lee about students contributing to the magazine turned into a “takeover” of the May edition.
The articles reported and written by Western students include one on how digital communication is changing education and college life, another focuses on food and other support for students who have financial challenges. Christian and two students discussed writing for Encore with WMUK’s Gordon Evans.
Carolyn Diana, who graduated this past weekend, saw the chance to write for Encore as a “one of a kind,” hands on experience. Junior Greyson Steele says having work published was an incredible opportunity, and he says the student-journalists were able to cover issues surrounding Western, and bring them to the community as a whole.
Diana examined Western’s food pantry, and relief fund for students. Diana says working on the story showed her that the problem of students struggling with finances and basic needs is bigger than she thought. Christian says Diana kept going back to sources and was able to tell the story in a more complete way. She says it’s an example of how good journalism is tapping into a trend or a deeper issue.
The story on the digital impact on college was a “collective effort,” although Steele was the main author. He says smart phones and other devices have created a need for immediacy. Steele says professors find it a challenge, because students have a phone and an urge to grab it when they get a notification. Steele says a walk through Waldo Library demonstrates how things have changed. He says almost everyone there is on a computer, rather than hunting down information in books or periodicals. Diana contributed to the digital impact story by examining the social impact. She says social media has become a way to communicate, and to at least start the dating process.
Other stories included one by Jay Penny about the sculptor of the new seal at the roundabout near Sangren Hall. Samantha May did a story on a Haworth College of Business student who is selling socks made of bamboo, and how Milwood Middle School uses Yoga in lieu of detention for student behavior issues. Samantha Marzke wrote about an innovative cellist at Western and how Western staff work to make students’ first year successful. A story on the changes over time in dorm room décor was a group effort.
Christian says journalism is a challenging field right now. But she says it’s usually parents who follow those changes and worry about them. She says journalism students come ready to write and tell a story.