Whitman Students Write for The Odyssey

Sara Platnick

A growing number of Whitman students are choosing to write for The Odyssey, an online platform geared towards millennials that describes itself as a combination of journalism and Buzzfeed, often focusing on more personal pieces or multimedia articles.

College students at Indiana University launched The Odyssey in 2014 as an exclusively online platform for millenials to write about issues that they felt was important. The Odyssey is currently involved in over 350 communities nationwide, and the number is expanding. Many colleges and universities, including Whitman, are a part of this network and the Odyssey shares Whitman’s articles on their website, and Whitman also shares links to their student writer’s articles through their Facebook page.

The Whitman Odyssey page was started in the summer of 2015 by sophomore Jordan Miller. Miller applied to write for The Odyssey after he saw an article posted on Facebook. Miller later brought on sophomore Tessa Dignum as assistant editor-in-chief. They both advertised the platform to the student body, and the writing staff grew from there.

“I actually saw a posting on Facebook, so saying that I brought it to Whitman gives me more credit than I deserve … [my friend] was talking about how there was this new opportunity and I could bring it to Whitman, and she asked if I was interested in taking it up,” said Miller.

The website is largely social media based, with over 90 percent of its content being encountered because it was shared through social media, according to The Odyssey website. Writers are generally given freedom on what they can write on, and the format is open-ended. Articles often include either videos or gifs, and all of the content is written for the web.

Mary Kuper ’18. Photo by Natalie Mutter

Many of the writers cite seeing The Odyssey advertised online or on social media as reasons for wanting to write for them. Whitman currently employs over twenty students who write for the paper, and they are looking to gain more writers.

“I think as Whitman students we are all generally talented writers and we are all pretty creative, and everyone is pretty witty, and so I think it’s just a great opportunity for people who are interested in doing some creative writing on the side or taking a break from academic essays. It’s a break from monotonous papers,” said sophomore Cherokee Washington, a writer for the Whitman Odyssey.   

Writers are given free-reign over the topics that they can write on, and they are merely given a 500-word estimate for their pieces. All articles are peer-reviewed by Whitman’s  editors-in-chief and then they are sent to the New York offices where an editor reviews them. Article topics range from “Selfie Shaming: Spreading the Message that Self Confidence is NOT Okay,” written by Dignum, to “We all know what’s coming when you make that *abroad* Facebook album,” a piece by senior Logan Gomez.

As The Odyssey is completely composed of online publications, the articles published have a greater base of readers that they can reach.

“As far as readership, that was the most shocking part. There was one article in the first or second month where more people read it than there are students at Whitman and that was super surprising. And so each month there are thousands if not tens of thousands of views, and for a brand new organization, that’s pretty cool,” said Miller.

While Miller formerly wrote for the publication and acted as editor-in-chief for Whitman-related content, he no longer writes for The Odyssey as his schedule does not allow for it. Dignum currently acts as editor-in-chief along with assistant editor-in-chief sophomore Zan McPherson. They are both in charge of finding new writers and editing all articles before they get published.  

“I think that it’s a great way to voice your opinion and get your ideas out there. And it’s an open platform, so you have a lot of freedom about what you write and how you write it. And being able to share your articles with friends, with other schools, and other people, print can’t [do that], and so I think it’s just a great way to share your ideas and build your portfolio up,” said Dignum.