Student writers and journalists share the stories that moved them.
Denison recently launched its narrative journalism concentration with the help of a prestigious Mellon Foundation Grant of $700,000. The grant will support the university’s work in “place-based journalism”—designed to highlight the Midwest’s unique people, politics, culture, and environment.
Even before the University landed the grant, Denison has had a long history of giving students tools to report and comment on the news. Denison students have been publishing a student newspaper, The Denisonian, since 1857, and the Denisonian’s irreverent sibling, The Bullsheet, has been casting its gimlet eye on campus and world events for decades.
The narrative journalism concentration will bring even greater depth to Denison’s already strong writing program, which includes courses in fiction and poetry—along with the institution’s more general focus on clear and compelling academic writing.
In the following pages, we talked to many different kinds of student storytellers. They share highs and lows of learning their craft, the people and stories that inspire them, and what drives them to tell the unexpected, engaging, and sometimes downright thrilling stories from campus and beyond.
— Erin Peterson and Kim Catley
Annie Hartman ’20, Alexandra Asselta ’19, and Josi Miller ’20
write for the national student-focused food publication Spoon University.
Miller on why food is an important subject:
Several of my articles are about bringing people together through food. I’ll test a recipe, modify it, and then write about it. I like that because I get to explore different food cultures.
Asselta on establishing her voice:
I wrote an article called “15 Things Only People Who Love Ketchup Will Understand.” I made it in my voice, using funny sayings and plays on words. That’s what I really like about writing for Spoon. I get to use the language I use as a college student, because that’s who the audience is.
Hartman on how Spoon helped her land an internship:
I had an incredible internship in Chicago last summer at an online digital agency called curiosity.com. It’s a spinoff from the Discovery channel. During my final interview, they said my leadership position at Spoon University set me apart because it’s a very organized and successful student-run publication. They thought my articles really showcased my personality and professionalism.
Miller on how it worked for her, too:
I wrote a profile for Spoon with my reflections about food. Once the Smithsonian saw that, they hired me as the Foodways intern for the Catalonia program, and I got to work on the Folklife Festival.
Asselta on how Spoon prepared her for an internship at Hearst:
I worked with the Lifestyle Food Group, which produces food-related content for any Hearst publication. They’re always looking for content that hasn’t been produced before or how to repurpose old content—something we had to do at Spoon. Brainstorming sessions are essential.