By Jaclyn Lipp
Editor's note: Jaclyn Lipp is a senior in the magazine sequence of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She also is a writer for the Soul of Athens site.
The award-winning Soul of Athens online publication is preparing to launch its third edition, an effort that tapped the creative expertise of more than 60 students from every school within the Scripps College of Communication.
As in previous editions, this year's site will include video, photography and interactive informational graphics. Last year's edition focused on wellness in Athens, but this year, the team aimed to go back to the broader, original aim of capturing the essence of Athens. New to this edition, which launches June 1, will be more written pieces, contributed by journalism students, to make the site more well-rounded.
For a story about a couple who owns an antiques store in Athens, Susannah Elliott, a senior journalism major, collaborated with senior photography student Sara Mosher. That teamwork has been invaluable, she said.
"It's good to have a certain kind of synergy between writers and photographers. That's why Soul of Athens has been so interesting," Elliott said. "This relies on teamwork more than traditional news outlets."
Each week, the team has seen the progression of the Web site and stories. In the early stages, designers presented detailed Web site mockups to team members, who ultimately voted for their favorite design. Photographers were busy snapping landscape shots around Athens to complement the site. Recently, the marketing team printed the Soul of Athens logo onto Post-It Notes and began sticking them around campus.
As the project nears a close, producers are giving sneak previews of final audio slideshows to the team. The content ranges in scope from belly dancers to pregnant teenagers to the shoes that walk the streets of Athens.
Along the way, each member of the Soul of Athens team says they have had a unique experience because each student has contributed to building different aspects of the project.
Danielle Kees, a junior informational graphics and publication design major, has been a member of more than one team for the site, working on both graphics and marketing. She's trekked across campus hanging up neon posters to get ready for the launch, and is getting ready to chalk the site launch on campus sidewalks this week.
"I really like seeing the project grow and change and evolve to the end result," Kees said. "I think the culmination of everything is going to be on June 1 when the site officially launches, but the process is so immense. To be part of that is a great experience. The team of people we're working with is so talented and they're working so hard to get this out on time. I can't wait to see what it comes out to be."
Dan Piotrowski has seen a different side of the process. A senior double majoring in interactive multimedia and digital media, he has been behind the scenes helping the site evolve from its beginning stages to the final product. As the technology director for the Soul of Athens, he has been involved in both design and development.
"From day one it's been emphasized that we have high standards for the content. All of our work has to be the best it possibly can be," Piotrowski said of the many site redesigns and the race to get the project pulled off in a short amount of time. "If I feel like something is mediocre, I'm not done yet. I keep working on it until it is really high quality. I think that's the difference with the dedication to this project."
One of his biggest projects, he said, has been modifying the background photos on the site to reflect the changing time, weather and season in Athens.
Previous editions have won numerous editorial awards. The original site, launched in 2007 under the direction of alumnus Zach Wise and multimedia journalist Brian Storm of MediaStorm, won three National Press Photographers Association awards, and last year's site earned an Award of Excellence in the "Best Online Publication" category of the University of Missouri's Pictures of the Year International competition.