Story Ideas: Senior Thesis Spotlights (Wesleyan Argus)

This CMM series features a sampling of crazy cool, highly relevant or offbeat stories by student journalists that can be localized for different campus audiences- along with suggestions on ways to create and present that content. Next up…

Senior Thesis Spotlights

Dance in colonial America. Radicalism in Wesleyan University’s past. A photographic “cardboard city.” These topics and creative pursuits were among the works featured in a series published throughout this past spring by The Wesleyan Argus.  The Argus pieces are straightforward profiles or Q&As with final-year students discussing their long-term passion projects: their senior theses.

The spotlights serve a dual role: profiling an eclectic slate of students (including a wrestling champion, a self-described student radical, and an opera lover) and helping fill a worthy news niche- student schoolwork.  Let’s be honest, among the many stories run on students’ awesomeness in athletics, extracurriculars, internships, volunteering, and outside artistic or business ventures, features on their research activities or classroom achievement are rare.  And usually for good reason: On the face of it, they are not newsworthy. (Literally, what comes to mind at the moment are student newspaper features on random lab achievements by science students- usually at the grad. school level.)

The Argus angle rocks that non-newsworthy assumption, providing a model for other campus media to follow.  Seek out especially intriguing, offbeat or impacting academic work undertaken by your student peers.  Senior theses are obvious selections, but many advanced courses or separate research-for-credit opportunities offer students the opportunity to add to existing knowledge or make a creative contribution.

Keep the profiles or Q&As short.  (I like the NYT Magazine style in that respect, such as this Eminem interview.)  And focus on the student as much as his or her research– the wrestler-dance researcher profile shown above is a perfect example.

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