I have great respect for any college student who can find the time to write an article every week and not cave to watching another episode of Criminal Minds. I have even more respect when the article is political, controversial, informative, or thoughtful.
The most popular current platform for this is The Odyssey Online, with articles from our very own LaGrange College students with titles like “A Reminder to Always Fight For Yourself,” “How Sustainability Can Affect Christmas,” and “Dear God, Thanks for NOT Answering My Prayers.” While these articles are well-researched and well-considered, these are few and far between. The outpouring of support towards social trends such as these displays how our generation is moving towards opinionated pieces instead of fact-checked journalism.
The Odyssey is a website with different branches throughout the country, and colleges are encouraged to start their own branch. Any interested student can apply to start a branch and become the editor, and then find students to write for the blog. Students can choose to write for different categories, like “Sports,” “Humor,” or “Adventure,” but the most popular categories are “500 Words On” and “The List.”
In “500 Words On,” the student can write 500 words on any topic. “The List” is exactly what it sounds like, from “21 Signs You’re an Education Major” to “11 Signs That You Are a Baton Twirler.”
The Odyssey Online’s website states, “Through its proprietary technology ecosystem, Odyssey is revolutionizing content creation and discovery, enabling compelling, high-quality content to be created and discovered at speed and scale.” In lots of big words, it’s saying that Odyssey is the first website allowing easy access to reading and writing “compelling, high-quality” articles.
Despite such high personal praise, the Odyssey has very few quality control checkpoints. When skimming through these pieces, the reader expects—and deserves—a certain level of professionalism and a certain quality of writing, which is lacking in many of the articles. When reading through the articles that friends share on Facebook, it’s unnerving to see errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. Some are little things, like the use of “peak” instead of “peek.”
The problem is not with the concept of the Odyssey or with any other media-sharing platform. The problem is that the credible, good writers are buried in heaps of rehashed articles about spring break and getting your first sorority “rush crush.” Recently, I read an article that included multiple malapropisms and misspellings. The article was incredibly hostile toward the college, while at the same time not being informative or having credible—or correct—information about many of the college’s projects.