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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Soul of Athens wins excellence award
VisCom team finishes fourth in best online publication category  

Mar 11, 2009  
By Erin Roberts  

Competing against the offerings of professional media companies, Ohio University's Soul of Athens has won the Award of Excellence for Best Online Publication at the Pictures of the Year international competition.

The team, mainly comprising students and faculty from the School of Visual Communication, finished fourth behind first-place National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, which finished second and third, respectively. The Missouri School of Journalism administers the annual photojournalism contest.


Though the team faced high-powered competition, some VisCom faculty members said they weren't terribly surprised the faculty-student collaboration did so well.


"I'm exceedingly impressed with the competition; when a student production is a finalist with those from organizations like The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic, that's pretty phenomenal," said Associate Professor Stan Alost, the content leader for Soul of Athens. "I'm delighted, but not horribly surprised because I think our students produce that quality of work. They are as talented as many of the professionals, and we had a phenomenal team."


Soul of Athens is an annual online publication produced primarily by VisCom students and faculty, with help from students in other schools throughout the Scripps College of Communication. The second edition, which went live in June 2008, explores the theme "In Pursuit of Wellness." It highlights the work of student photographers from Dawn2Dusk, another annual VisCom project where students were given 24 hours to capture the theme on digital media.


Greg Campbell, a graduate student in the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems, handled much of the component programming for the site under the direction of Eric Kramer, a visiting professional.


"It was a big project, and we all had to work together," Campbell said. "It was definitely a learning experience for all of us. It's very cool that we're able to compete with such big names. The first year set a precedent that was difficult to follow, but I feel like we've set a good foundation for future editions of this online publication."


School director Terry Eiler said he has come to expect quality and consistent work from the students and faculty.


"I'm proud of the fact that a new group of faculty members and students can maintain such a high level of production for a second year," Eiler said. "I think it's always wonderful when student work is directly compared with the best of media company production online."


Eiler said the edition also has been entered into NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Webby Award and National Academy of the Television Arts and Science Emmy Award competitions, all of which are yet to be judged.


The first edition of Soul of Athens, launched in May 2007, painted a sentimental profile of Southeast Ohio. It also earned international recognition, including first place for "Best Multimedia Package," second place for "Documentary Video" and second place for "Feature Video" in the independent divisions from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA); second place for "Best Small Market Multimedia" in the Pictures of the Year International competition; and the 2007 Technology Information Gurus of the Appalachia Region (TIGAR) Award for best non-commercial Web site from the Information Technology Alliance of Appalachian Ohio.


Visit soulofathens.com to see this year's project, as well as the archived edition.

 

 

Related Links
Soul of Athens:  http://soulofathens.com/ 
School of Visual Communication:  http://www.viscom.ohiou.edu/  
Scripps College of Communication:  http://www.scrippscollege.ohio.edu/school-of-visual-communication1  

Published: Mar 11, 2009 1:23 PM  



Bluegrass band 
One of many stories on the Soul of Athens Web site, "The Village" photo essay captures images of communities throughout Athens County. In this photo, members of the Bluegrass Band, Roger McWhorter of Vinton County, left, Roger Bissell of Coolville, middle, and Ron Workman of Guysville, right, perform a concert in the Rome Canaan Auditorium in Stewart, Ohio.  

 
 
Alumnus' award-winning project focuses on Southeastern Ohio 

Alumnus Matt Eich won the Community Awareness Award in this year's Pictures of the Year International Competition for his photo essay "Carry Me Ohio."

"I was very surprised but really honored," said Eich, who was named the College Photographer of the Year in 2006. "Most of the photographers who I really look up to that have done community-based work in the past have placed in this competition. It also was won last year by an Ohio University student, Yoon Byun, so it was kind of cool to follow in his footsteps."

Eich, a native of Virginia, began the project in 2006 for a class after becoming interested in the economic plight of the residents of Chauncey, a small village just outside Athens. He received his bachelor's of science degree in visual communication in 2008.

"I was kind of curious about the quality of life in Athens and the quality of life five miles down the road," he said. "I'm looking at the whole region and the extraction of natural resources such as coal, salt, clay and timber, and how there really isn't a whole lot of opportunity now for the folks that live out there."

Eich believes the story of those living in the impoverished areas is one that should be told, and says that he hopes to publish a book and produce a multimedia piece on the story in the coming months.

"In terms of public response, you can't make people see things they aren't willing to look at so I try to not get to hopeful in terms of change that might happen," he said.

Eich says he is currently working on a freelance basis and plans to move in June. As part of the College Photographer of the Year award, he completed an internship at National Geographic in summer 2008.

Eich's win was featured last week on an NPR blog. View the full picture story at the Pictures of the Year International Web site.

 

 



Soul of Athens Web site
   


  





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