By Kelly Emmrich
The Odyssey Online, founded in 2009 by two Indiana University students Evan Burns and Adrian France, say it is a voice for millennials who want to, “flip the traditional top- down editorial model to harness the thousands of ideas from real people to truly democratize content creation and give influencers the opportunity to express themselves and actually be heard.”
Originally it was a weekly newspaper that reported on the Indiana University sorority and fraternity community. From 2010 to 2013 Burns and France’s website grew from Indiana University to more than 30 college campuses and just over 500 writers. Each university associated with the Odyssey has their own staff of writers, editors and social media workers. Last June, UMW was finally able to get its own Odyssey platform and recruit its staff. This year, the staff consists of a measly 12 or 13 writers.
This January the Odyssey community now has over 600 campuses and 6,000 contributing writers, according to the Odyssey Website, including writers on the University of Mary Washington campus.
The Odyssey at UMW is technically not affiliated with the university, but it would be easy for the club members to create an Odyssey Online club at the university thus making it easier to gain more staffing.
Currently, with limited writers and the minimum requirement of 12 articles per week as a team to stay on the Odyssey platform, the UMW Odyssey staff is struggling to meet that mark.
What was supposed to be a reputable and consistent platform for university writers is slowly dwindling away because of a lack of writers and constant content.
Recruitment is the main problem for the UMW Odyssey. With one student editor and one student social media manager, the small program is struggling to stay consistent with writers. This past week the article count was up to 14 articles, but that is a rare achievement within the community. The program needs to become a club affiliated with UMW. So that the Odyssey will gain more members and content creators week to week.
Writing articles for the Odyssey is easy. With the two options of a regular news article or a new feature called a ‘listicle,’ a term that was coined by BuzzFeed and refers to an article that is presented as a list, the Odyssey creates articles that are funny and unique. Working as a contributing writer is a very easy way for students to write interesting and creative content that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.
According to the Odyssey Online, it reaches audiences mainly via cell phone, where 82 percent of the audience accesses it.
“Would your hometown best friend’s roommate like this? If not it’s probably not very shareable,” said UMW Odyssey Online Editor-in-Chief Miranda Skinner.
For the Odyssey, relatable content is really important. The more traffic that an article receives, the more relevant the writer and the writer’s community becomes. In all, they become more reputable and relevant to the Odyssey community.
The UMW team is proud whenever an article reaches over 100 shares on social media. However, in the past week, contributing senior writer Laura Adriaanse wrote an article titled, “8 Things Horseback Riders Are Sick of Hearing.”
This article received 12581 shares and counting. This is one of the most shared articles that the UMW Odyssey community has ever produced.
Hopefully, as the UMW Odyssey reaches its first birthday in June, the community will gain more writers. For now, the UMW Odyssey will just struggle getting its quota articles per week.