What The Odyssey Online Misses About Journalism

The+Odyssey+Online+must+be+stricter+with+their+allowance+of+articles+that+are+of+poor+content+and+convention.+%28Courtesy+of+Julia+Comerford%29
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What The Odyssey Online Misses About Journalism

The Odyssey Online must be stricter with their allowance of articles that are of poor content and convention. (Courtesy of Julia Comerford)

The Odyssey Online must be stricter with their allowance of articles that are of poor content and convention. (Courtesy of Julia Comerford)

The Odyssey Online must be stricter with their allowance of articles that are of poor content and convention. (Courtesy of Julia Comerford)

The Odyssey Online must be stricter with their allowance of articles that are of poor content and convention. (Courtesy of Julia Comerford)

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By Andrea Garcia

The Odyssey Online must be stricter with their allowance of articles that are of poor content and convention. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

How does an article get published? Since you are reading this article, it means that the words you are about to read have undergone the following steps since the idea for this article has come to fruition.

First, it passes to our copy-editing team. When this piece is submitted to our copy-editing staff, it goes through three staff reads, two reads within its print layout and reads through our assistant copy chief, copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief for grammar, consistency and accuracy in content. At least seven and sometimes upwards of 10 sets of eyes have reviewed this article before it goes to print and gets published online.

After the article is published, the link will get shared on The Fordham Ram’s accounts, through personal accounts and shared by people who feel that the content is worthy of more reads. While links to articles are shared and viewed within the same market, its viewers might discount the behind-the-scenes process that has gone into producing each article. Not to say that The Ram has a perfect editing process. All 23 members of our staff are humans who make mistakes. However, this form of journalism undergoes an editing process that mimics that of professional newspapers. This is more than I can say for online publications, such as The Odyssey Online.

An “editor” of the Odyssey had reached out to me. He identified that the Odyssey is a social media platform that’s working to democratize content by allowing writers to create stories that they want to write about, rather than having an editor assign stories. In 2016, the most popular articles that writers of the Odyssey Online have created include: “An Open Letter to my Hot Chem TA,” “1222 Feelings You Have During Finals Week as Explained by Michael Scott,” “232 Thoughts Everyone Has on the Elliptical,” “207 Times Marie Curie was Bae” and “347 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Be Your Fashion Icon.” In other words, hard-hitting journalism, right?

Odyssey articles have also become a new form of sub-tweeting. Articles that have floated in my own social media feeds include, “An Open Letter to the Person Who Used to Be my Best Friend.”

Content aside, the Odyssey seems to lack any form of an editing process. The email from my “could’ve been-should’ve been” Odyssey editor continues, “We do have editors, but their role is to edit stories for typos, grammatical errors, AP style, etc., and to strengthen each contributor’s voice.” Note that this email included an oxford comma, which is disdained in AP style format.

If you are familiar with AP style, basic grammar (not grammer) and spelling, then it won’t be hard for you to find a mistake in most Odyssey articles. When talking to people within our campus community who contribute to the Odyssey, they explain that they send in articles to their editor, and the editor places the article on the platform for them. Looking through the LinkedIn resumes of campus editors, or rather, “campus curators,” many have little to no experience in writing or editing articles, other than editing the articles they publish themselves. When writers are recruited for the Odyssey, they are inclined to share their ideas in a seemingly more legitimate platform than a general Facebook post or a startup blog. Some might confuse this as journalism instead of glorified blogging. These self-publishing platforms confuse journalism with listicles and dramatic articles that equate real-life experiences with trivial media outlets.

In this finals season, I dare you to search, “Finals as told by (insert your favorite TV show here).” Filter through the plethora of articles. While they might elicit a laugh, they don’t offer any other value to the public sphere.

Another issue is creativity, or a lack of creativity for that matter. Writers copycat each other and piggyback ideas in order to gain popularity. One thing that makes The Odyssey Online unique is how it ranks authors by their number of views for the public to view. You can look up any school and find the writers with the most views.

Don’t get me wrong. There are diamonds to be found in the rough. Bear with me for this diamond analogy. Diamonds go through rounds of cleaning and curating before they are set into jewelry or what have you. The same goes for articles, or at least, it should. Rather than just throwing an article online on a self-publishing platform, it should undergo a series of checks before it is released into the public sphere. The Odyssey Online just isn’t that.

 

Andrea Garcia, FCRH ’18, is a journalism and political science major from West Milford, New Jersey.