Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finding the 'Soul of Athens'

by Jonny Griffith

In 2007 students of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism opened an innovative online publication called the ‘Soul of Athens.’

The initiative of the site was to find the soul of the Appalachian community through a collection of timeless stories and multimedia publications of different personalities.

In its own words, “from sustainable farmland to environmental degradation, rich cultural centers to impoverished rural villages, and folk to funk, Soul of Athens illuminates the distinct features that compose Athens’ soul.”
The students’ ability to capture these features did not go unnoticed as it was named first place for “Best Use of Web” and “Best Multimedia Package” from the Independent Division by the National Press Photographers Association. The online publication also finished runner up for “Documentary Video” and “Feature Video” of the Independent Division.

After finding many aspects of Athens’ soul, a year later the journalists of the online publication sought out to find the pursuit of wellness of Athens County in 2008. Through the four holistic areas of mind, body, spirit and place, “Athenians are celebrated for their unique devotion to the pursuits of achievement and self-fulfillment, making them the perfect subjects for framing the exploration of the mind.”

For its pursuit in finding wellness in the county, the site was awarded third place for “News or Feature Multimedia Package” by the National Press Photographers Association, along with an “Award of Excellence” by the Pictures of the Year International.
This year the ‘Soul of Athens’ went back to its roots in an effort to once again find the soul of the Athens community. Its 2009 edition was an effort to reveal the spirit of the community through photography, video, audio, text and interactive graphics. With 42 new stories revealing different aspects of Athens’ soul, content creator and graphic artist Rachel Custer says the stories allow for students to look outside of their lives in the Athens campus community.

Rachel Custer, Content Contributor, graphics
Students who work for the online publication receive class credit for their work, but content creator and writer Jaclyn Lipp says her work for the site goes far beyond the hours in the classroom. In her first year working for the publication, Lipp wrote an article called “The Big Green” about environmental efforts. She says the many forms of media that are used to capture different stories in the ‘Soul of Athens’ is what makes the publication unique.

Jaclyn Liff, Content Contributor, writer

To check out the online publication click here

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