Nov. 13, 2007
By Janelle Huelsman
As the face of traditional journalism continues to change, one Ohio University student is at the forefront. Senior Meghan Louttit, having already founded one online news source, has been named co-managing editor of Scoop08, the first daily online student newspaper devoted to coverage of the 2008 presidential election.
Louttit, the only college student in Ohio to land a management position, got her first taste of online journalism as founder of the Ohio University student-run SpeakeasyMag.com. Last May, the online journalism major read about Scoop08 in Scripps Notes, the weekly newsletter for students in the Scripps College of Communication, and decided to apply for a correspondent position.
"I thought it was a fabulous idea and something I had been wanting to see happen ever since we started Speakeasy -- a national student newspaper with a truly virtual newsroom that has impact," said Louttit, who served as Speakeasy's managing editor.
Founded by two young men who met while interning for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election campaign, Scoop08 reports on topics such as political theory, technology and financial aid -- all from the student perspective.
While interning at American Express Publishing and mediabistro.com in New York City last summer, Louttit met with co-founder Andrew Mangino, a junior at Yale University, to discuss her involvement and a potential editing position. A week later, Mangino and co-founder Alexander Heffner offered her one of the two managing editor positions.
"It snowballed from there," she said. "Since then, (we) have been churning away, hiring editors and correspondents from all over the world, coordinating stories, hammering out an editing process, sorting out personnel issues and trying to work up as much press as possible."
As managing editor, Louttit will work with co-managing editor Steven Siegel, also of Yale, to oversee the newspaper's content, manage the editorial board, consider story ideas and edit stories from 45 beats before they are published online.
"For the past several months, and especially since our launch, I'm connected to my computer 24 hours a day," Louttit said.
Scoop08's goal is to bring a fresh perspective to light from an important voting contingent.
According to the University of Maryland's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, people ages 18 through 24 make up an estimated 25 percent of the 2008 electorate.
"Today students are in the best position to step back and think 'What can we do to change this?' We want to tackle the topics the mainstream media ignore, all while using a balance of traditional journalism to cover groundbreaking ideas," Louttit said.
Like Louttit, other members of the newspaper's editorial board already have extensive resumes. The board consists of undergraduate and graduate students studying at top academic institutions such as Harvard University, Wellesley College, Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University. It also includes a few high-powered high-school editors.
Louttit and her fellow writers also will have access to an impressive Scoop08 advisory board, which includes some of the biggest names in the journalism industry: Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, New York Times columnist Judy Woodruff and politicos Sen. Joseph Lieberman and former White House political director Doug Sosnik among others.
Louttit said that although advisory board members will serve as a great resource, they're only a touchstone; they won't control content.
"We're all students, and we're still learning. The advisory board is there for us when we need them, but they won't be looking over our shoulders," she said.
Student writers from across the globe are signing on as correspondents and already total more than 400. Luke Wright, a second-year Ohio University student, is among those involved, and Louttit hopes other Bobcats will be interested as well.
Louttit is a member of the Online News Association and also has interned for The Columbus Dispatch. She spent a summer studying in Florence, Italy, and played a key role in creating features for student activities and promoting involvement in Ohio University's island in Second Life.