I’ve been many things at the Stater thanks to many people. One thing I have not been, however, is a columnist. But this is a goodbye column, and here I am doing something I really can’t stand — writing about myself. ÿ
So instead I’m going to write about you.ÿ
I love the reaction I get from strangers when I ask them “What’s your story?” ÿ
I’ve found it comes in stages.ÿ
First they’re a bit surprised. Which makes sense, as I’ll admit it is out of the ordinary for someone you’ve never met to approach you and ask such a personal question. ÿ
A smile sneaks across the person’s face, which I believe is body language for “I won’t admit it, but yeah, I’d love to talk about myself.”ÿ
Then they’ll insist they don’t have a story a couple times before indeed telling a pretty great one.ÿ
I’ve found that everyone has a story. They range from the trivial to the life-changing. From the tragic to the laughable, from the nonsensical to the enlightening.ÿ
Joyce Norr, an administrative assistant in the Wick Poetry Center, is battling cancer. Betsy Mason, a sophomore Russian and pre-med major, wants to work in a Russian orphanage after college. And Chris Kallio, a sophomore integrated social studies and theater major, is an aspiring yet realistic comedian (he’s also studying to be a teacher).ÿ
These are real people — members of the Kent State community I’ve met while working on a multimedia project for StaterOnline.com called stater.you.ÿ
Since the beginning of the semester, Stater videographer Mike Wieclaw and I have been roaming campus with a video camera every week talking to students, faculty and staff. The two-minute-long interviews are then posted on StaterOnline.com.ÿ
The premise is simple: Everyone has a story, and it can’t hurt if we all get to know each other by sharing those stories. It’s about building community — something the Internet is more than well suited for, a fact anyone with a Facebook or MySpace account can agree with. It’s about taking two minutes to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Stater.you has actually been the only reporting I’ve done this semester, which for those who know me, is a bit of a change of pace. For one, I’m not writing a thing. It’s all video. And secondly, I’ve gone an entire semester without talking to any “official sources” (as we in newspapers tend to say). These are hyper-local feature profiles.ÿ
And this is largely why I got into journalism — to tell your story.
I’ve realized that there’s a different sort of newsworthiness to what they’re saying. It’s real and it’s happening now, and on the Web, there’s room for everyone. ÿ
On the day Mike and I started stater.you, I had no idea how exactly it would turn out. For all I knew, the project would be a complete failure. I prepared about 20 questions I hoped would serve as icebreakers to get down to what the interviewee was really about.ÿ
Turns out I have yet to use those 20 questions. I’ve only really had to ask one: “What’s your story?”ÿ
So tell me: What is it?
Ryan Loew is a senior newspaper journalism major and assistant managing editor for the Web for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected] He’s graduating in August, but he’ll be sure to stay in touch.