Summary of Audience Needs for Her Campus 

Audience Profile: 

Her Campus is a “global community for college women,” with the aim to publish content specifically geared toward women in college. The site has the most success in the United States, with over 290 campus chapters. Her Campus serves its audience by allowing “collegiettes” to create and manage their own school chapter and to publish content that is personal to their school with correspondence from a managing editor online. The typical content must relate to the current college experience or current events impacting colleges, and the most common types of articles fall under categories such as “style,” “love,” “life” “career,” with special sections dedicated to out-of-college experiences (“high school” and “real world”).
Purpose of Publication:

Her Campus publishes a variety of content, from health and beauty to current events and world news. Overwhelmingly, the entertainment content is most popular. Each campus chapter is responsible for publishing interesting content for their classmate readers as well as the general audience of Her Campus, and entertainment pieces are what is currently very popular among college readers. “Listicle” pieces a-la-Buzzfeed and internet trends and fashion a-la-Seventeen magazine are the most shared pieces by far. Mostly, these entertainment pieces create a sense of community with a shared humor and that is relate-able to the college experience.
Frequency of Publication:

Frequency of publication depends on individual college chapters, but typically there is new content every week. Her Campus CNU, for example, sets a due date for articles at the end of each week, and then articles are scheduled to be published throughout the following week to continuously have new content for CNU readers. This gives structure to the writing and publishing process within the chapter, but allows readers to feel like there is always something new on the website.
Competition:

Her Campus’ main competition are other online magazines that cater to college-aged audiences, such as:

What all of these sites have in common is that they are structured similarly (constantly putting out new content, new articles, encouraging “shares” and “likes”) and are fighting for the same audience (ages 15-25, mostly high school and college). For Her Campus, the audience is most specialized because it is geared specifically to colleges, and specifically to women.
Style Issues:

The current site interface is very user-friendly and navigate-able. The color scheme is bright and bold (hot pink, black & white), and matches throughout the site. There are numerous hyperlinks, for popular articles, for particular article categories, and for specific campus chapters. These all together make the site eye-catching and easy to use, as well as very expertly promoting new content.
Information Challenges:

The only obstacle I see as an issue for Her Campus is that campuses that do not have a chapter may not encounter Her Campus articles, since the function of a Her Campus college chapter is to circulate a hub of content that is specific to the campus as well as to contribute global content. Her Campus chapters engender a community following, which helps spreads content within and further than the college circuit.

Response:

I think there should be a team that works to promote the website to new campuses, or there needs to be new efforts to do so if this team already exists. The team should find ways to get into contact with college students that they see potential as journalists with. The more chapters opened, the more original content there is to share; the more content there is to share, the more potential for the website to go viral.

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Ginny Whitehouse on Newsgathering and Privacy

In her article “Newsgathering and Privacy: Expanding Ethics Codes to Reflect Change in the Digital Media Age,” Ginny Whitehouse outlines the journalistic ethics as they pertain to social media and online presence in reporting. She lists a few guiding questions that reporters should ask themselves before using the Internet to find information for their stories such as:

  • Can you justify your actions to your own conscious, to your colleagues, to the whole world of reasonable people?
  • Does the information involve such great public peril that the harm done by journalists failing to engage in deception outweighs the harm the deception will bring to individuals, the profession, and the public trust?
  • Is the information gained by reporting from social networking pages worth more than the harm done to the profession and the private pain that pulling information from those pages might bring?

Concerning blogs and reporting on public individuals in private places (like a women’s bathroom or potentially a classroom), the important guiding question to consider is:

Does the value of information gained outweigh the harm done to the individual’s sense of privacy, the public understanding of privacy, and to the profession as a whole?

She underlines the importance of distinguishing between the public place and the private place, as well as the public vs. the private individual; by judging if the information shared with the public would be worth the potential harm it might cause a private person, the reporter holds themselves accountable to responsible journalism instead of sensational or gimmick journalism.

These articles explore blogging journalism and what it means to be ethically responsible with information on the Internet:

Website Review: The Odyssey

The Odyssey is a “social content platform” that uses social media to traffic interesting content with new perspectives to a more widespread audience. It is a platform that shares articles written by Millennials, for Millennials, using a writer-central approach to editing and publishing. It is designed to be more accessible in the age of technology by having device compatible platforms and relying on “sharing” methods to circulate content on other social media.

The Odyssey recently updated its homepage interface, but some of the changes that were made have actually made the website less user-friendly and more difficult to navigate. Using the WEDM as a guide, I will review the website and outline the strengths and weaknesses found in its current web interface.


The Odyssey presents itself as a platform for sharing thoughts and ideas of the Millennial generation, and the site does this well considering the kind of content it publishes: listicles, fun .gif-based blurbs, and “open letters” as well as political surveys and investigations into current events. The tone of the website is geared toward these Millennial readers, with an easy-to-read font, links to related content on the side of the browser, and all content is created by other Millennials which introduces a sympathetic voice to its readers on topics that they care about.

The packaging of content is mainly through “sharing” on social media, through Twitter and Facebook, meaning that readers come to the website via referrals from their friends. Also, the website has multiple viewing platforms (desktop, iPhone, Android, tablet, etc.) so as not to exclude any potential audience based on their type of device.

However, the homepage for The Odyssey is not very accessible to a user that wants to navigate the website. There is a search bar and a reel of pre-selected articles that rotate on a scroll at the bottom of the page, but otherwise the homepage is empty, with no visuals of any kind. There are no links to specific types of articles (Humor, 100 Words on, The Listicle, etc.) or campus chapters or Odyssey writers. In order to find anything specific on the homepage, you must use the search bar- this limits the accessibility of information and makes the process of finding what you want longer.

There is no consistency with the homepage and the rest of the website. The website is set up differently when you read an article than when you are on the front page. First, the articles normally have many photos or engaging graphics to prevent the reader losing interest in a block of text. Second, related links line the sides of the article to suggest more reading to the user. Third, at the bottom of the page there is a list of links to the categories of articles available on The Odyssey, something that is conspicuously absent on the homepage. Lastly, the articles allow comments and sharing on social media if the user desires, engaging the audience in the opposite way that the homepage alienates users.

Using social media to promote the website and its content is a good way of reaching the intended audience, Millennials, but The Odyssey’s lack of easy navigation within the website loses its audience’s interest once it becomes too difficult to find new content. If the site had better search optimization in-house, then users would be more likely to move from article to article to article instead of reading the article they were linked to on Facebook or Twitter and then clicking away.

The layout of article pages strikes a good balance between images and text to keep the reader interested, using parallel columns of texts and image links to organize information in a visually pleasing way. The tone and voice of the website is a work of collaboration among the numerous young writers across the U.S., and creates an honest, refreshing atmosphere that invites discussion and new ideas. With the system of editors for each chapter of Odyssey in place, the quality of the writing is consistently interesting and easy to read, but not “dumbed-down” or trivial.

As a whole, The Odyssey does very well in understanding its intended audience and incorporates very relate-able content with social media outlets. Its fatal flaw is its lack of easy and suggestive navigation to articles on different topics within the website.

“How a Remote Peak in Myanmar Nearly Broke an Elite Team of Climbers” by Mark Jenkins

The article I chose to dissect is from National Geographic, about a recent expedition to a remote mountain in South East Asia called Hkakabo Razi undertaken by writer Mark Jenkins.


Hyperlinks:

These hyperlinks send interactors to websites that give more detailed information about the subjects inside the article that the average person would not know if they were not mountaineers like Jenkins. The hyperlinks give context to the individuals and places in the story, especially the news article links.

All hyperlinks would open in a new tab, because the reader would want to continue to read the article from where they left off after they gathered the information they needed.


It is difficult to separate this article cleanly because it is a work of creative nonfiction, and so has a purposeful narrative that the author has crafted.

However, it would become more digitally accessible to separate the background research and history of the expedition from the actual expedition within the story.

Subdivisions:

  • Narrative of the expedition
  • Research, history of Hkakabo Razi
    • list of previous failed expeditions to Hkakabo Razi
    • Jenkins’ personal reasons for wanting to climb Hkakabo Razi
  • Important persons page
    • fellow climbers
    • his late teammates
    • famous explorers

Pull-outs:

  • How to Plan an Expedition
    • Create a small excerpt in the empty space on the sides of the article briefly explaining how professional mountaineers prepare for expeditions
  • How to Cook a Meal on a Mountain
    • Another small excerpt on what foods to eat in the wild or to bring with you, and how to cook them with limited supplies
  • Personal entry on Why People Climb Mountains
    • Take section on “Mountaineers are egoists” and explain more fully

Ways to Improve Content:

  • Create a map following the expedition with dates and names
    • The article doesn’t use many dates when describing the actual expedition, just time descriptors (“two weeks” and “three days”); get more specific about the expedition with a visual aid
    • Possibly integrate the photos in the gallery with the locations they were taken in on the map; with each location on the map, an interactor could hover or click on a pin that brought up the corresponding photo with text detailing what was going on there.
  • Move the links to the photo gallery and the short film to a more noticeable location or make them more attention grabbing
  • Create a timeline to make the narrative more cohesive with all of the extra information

Assignment #1: “Life Lessons: A Summer Odyssey”

At the start of summer vacation, I was excited to have all the time I wanted to relax and take pleasure doing the things that, during the school year, I had little time for. I imagined beach days and crossing out books on my to-read list and finally getting to marathon shows on Netflix that had been sitting in my queue. I felt motivated to get a job and to save up money to buy nice things for myself like I had always wished I could. My vision of the summer was shining brightly before me as I drove back home after my last exam that April.

The reality of summer was much different, however. I did get a job, but it was nothing glamorous or well paying; just a minimum wage position at a music store in the mall, working maybe eight hours a week. The daydreams of saving up and treating myself all summer dried up quickly after receiving my first paycheck, a mere thirty dollars.

Not only was my job lack-luster, but instead of relishing all of the free time I suddenly had, it seemed like there was too much free time. I got sick of reading after finishing six books in four days. I cleared through my Netflix queue in record time, and then it seemed like there was never anything good on TV. My friends had jobs that actually put them to work during the week, and so I was left to amuse myself more often than not. I felt that, after only the first month of vacation, I wanted to go back to school again.

Having a regular schedule is definitely not something to take for granted. What was first merely boredom soon became lethargy, and had I let it continue it could have become apathy and sloth. My moods became bitter and volatile, I gained some weight, and I started to lose the motivation to do anything besides lay in bed all day. I was in a serious rut, and I had to get out; I did not want to be stuck, in the dark and miserable, all summer!

I Skyped with a few of my college friends one day to cheer myself up, and they told me all about their exciting and busy lives. One friend was constantly picking up shifts as a hostess in a restaurant when she was not catching up with old high school buddies. The other was completely booked to housesit all summer, where she made nearly $500 a week per house. They were both worried about me when I described my uneventful, empty days. They suggested taking up a new hobby, or maybe getting a second job.

The first friend shared that she had actually applied for a writing position with an online magazine, Odyssey. She wrote articles every week on whatever topic she wanted, in whatever format she wanted- from opinion pieces, to investigative ones, and even the popular “listicle” pieces. After filling out the easy application online, she had a Skype interview and sent in a sample of her writing, and was hired almost immediately. She encouraged me to apply as well, and then we could work together despite the distance between us.

I was hesitant to try, at first. I told myself that I was not good enough to write articles that people would want to read, and that I would have nothing to write about after a few weeks. Then I realized that the only thing preventing me from succeeding was myself. If I wanted to change the way my life was going, I needed to take advantage of the opportunities before me instead of doing nothing and complaining. I needed to climb out of the rut I had fallen into and reach for the things I wanted.

The next day, I carefully filled out the online application to become a writer for Odyssey. It took much longer than it should have because I agonized over the simplest of details, the anxiety and fear of rejection coloring my answers. When it was completed, I had so much nervous energy that I paced by my phone for an hour, waiting for the call that would tell me, “Thanks, but no thanks. You’re not what we want.” After a while with no phone call, I forced myself to push it from my mind and tried to be productive, instead. My bedroom was spotless and organized by the time the call finally came in three hours later.

The caller was another young woman, and she kept the interview very casual. She asked me easy questions like, “Why do you enjoy writing?” and “Why do you want to work with Odyssey?” After speaking with her for a few minutes, she asked for a writing sample and told me that I was hired.

The impact that this had on me may seem exaggerated to some, but I felt transformed. I had never experienced that feeling of confidence and empowerment to just go out and do something. For as long as I could remember, that just was not possible for me. Before making any big decision, I almost had to know for a fact that I would succeed before I could make a decision, because otherwise I would be crippled by self-doubt.

This confidence and renewed motivation in myself continued throughout the rest of the summer, and I dug myself out of that rut. I was finally happy and enjoying my free time, and I felt like I was doing something productive with my summer as well.

The lesson I learned is that you need to take initiative in life if you want to be happy. I was not happy when I had no purpose without school, and instead of trying to find a new purpose, I expected something good to fall into place. When that did not happen, I fell into a rut. Expecting good things to happen to you eventually is not a healthy or effective way of living. You need to go out and get the good things in life yourself.