Story time

Written by | October 4, 2012

Student bloggers cross boundaries through their stories

With so many students participating in such a wide variety of incredible pursuits at Portland State, finding your own voice can be intimidating. Yet we all have stories that define us, and we share these events because our experiences can affect and enlighten the people around us—or at least entertain them.

Miles Sanguinetti/VANGUARD STAFF

MARIO QUINTANA, a student blogger, works hard to craft compelling stories.

Inspired by these stories among students, the PSU Chronicles blog (psuchronicles.com) has been documenting the lives and experiences of our student population, all while promoting feedback and interactivity for everyone involved.

Given the prevalence of Web and social media, students have unlimited options when it comes to news content. These sources cover a wide variety of topics and cater to the lives and experiences of our diverse nation.

The beauty of this overwhelming amount of accessible content is that we are free to pick those stories with which we have a strong relationship—posts that embrace and expand our cultures, tastes and views providing us with a crucial understanding of the matters we face daily.

Chris Broderick, associate vice president for communications and marketing, saw a need for this style of reporting among PSU students and now guides the bloggers in creating content.

“But I don’t write any of it,” said Broderick, who had high praise for the contributing students. His opinion comes with experience: Broderick worked as a reporter for five different newspapers, including The Oregonian, before coming to PSU. Though Broderick’s background in newswriting certainly helps when working with student bloggers, Broderick clarifies the difference in tone between newswriting and blogging.

“A good newspaper article is mostly informational,” Broderick said. “I urge [the students] to have their own voice.”

He explained that a blog post should concisely communicate one thought on one topic and strive for a personal connection to the reader or viewer. This method is apparent in student blogger Flamur Vehapi’s description of his own writing process.

“The process is very different from my school assignments,” Vehapi said. “For my school, I usually have to research a topic and then write, but for my blogging all I do is observe and listen and then write.

“What makes this process easy is that I do not have to worry about being graded on it,” Vehapi said. “That, I think, is the key to good topic selection and better writing.”

The blog’s quality is drawing interest, and Broderick has watched the number of readers increase significantly over the years.

“We should also have a bump because of the new term,” said Broderick, referring to the incoming freshman and transfer students. These fresh faces will add to the already diverse body of readers, who expect compelling and relatable posts.

Vehapi expects his writing to attract readers in the Portland area and beyond, “based on the comments and responses I get from my readers who come from various countries and backgrounds.”

Readers will have an abundant supply of fresh content this year, with PSU Chronicles hiring more writers in anticipation of increased demand. While the position does pay, the students have other reasons for wanting to be a part of the site.

Film major Kenny Katz makes videos for the blog, giving him real-world film experience.

“While getting initial video experience under my belt, I met loads of people all across campus which has led to other video and employment opportunities,” Katz said. “I love that there has been such a large effort in recent years to help get students more connected with campus.”

Professional practice is evident throughout PSU Chronicles. It’s clear when reading the site that contributors take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase issues that are important to our school. Events and opinions are clearly headlined and engage the viewer, promising thoughtful ideas on differing topics.

Although the product looks good, it’s the substance that brings readers back. Vehapi explains that the students’ posts are important because they provide peer perspective on current topics.

“I see blogging as a way of bringing up and addressing issues and ideas, but what happens after is more interesting, especially when you see people from all over the world commenting and responding to those ideas and issues,” Vehapi said. “Blogging and vlogging can reach people across the world.”

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