7 Standout Student Press Stories: ‘Second Chance at Life,’ ‘Expert at Napping’ & a Barefoot Commute

Over the past decade, digital tools and mobile platforms have rocketed journalism to a universe of innovation, interactivity and immediacy once unimaginable. Yet, without stellar content, journalism 2.0 is not worth the effort to read, watch, click on, scroll through, contribute to or connect with.
In that spirit, this semi-regular CMM rundown spotlights some of the most impressive, engaging and offbeat content recently produced by college media worldwide. Along with being worth a read, the stories are also potentially worth emulating or using as inspiration for awesome storytelling at your own school.

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(To nominate a student press news report, feature story, profile, op-ed, editorial, video or multimedia package for inclusion in a future spotlight, tweet me or email me ASAP.)

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SPORTS JOURNALISM ALERT: “Faith in the Full Court,” The Triangle, Drexel University

In a fascinating, top-notch profile, Adam Hermann lays out the many connections between best friends and injured Drexel basketball players Rodney Williams and Major Canady. As he writes:

“It’s more than injuries to the same foot in the same season that bond Canady and Williams. They’ll be sure to tell you that. … They graduated from high school on the same day. They scored 37 points, career highs for both, on the same night of their senior year of high school. Their teams lost those games, despite their best efforts. They’re both the leading scorers in the history of their high schools. They secretly committed to Drexel on the same day. Their fathers belong to the same fraternity. Oh, and both their fathers are pastors. That’s the big one.”

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1“Student Makes the Daily Commute Barefoot,” The State News, Michigan State University

For the past three years, through sunshine, rain, sleet and snow, MSU sophomore Dustin Edwards has walked barefoot. In an interview with State News staffer Ryan Squanda, Edwards outlines the reactions of people on and around campus who see him sans shoes.

In his words, “Almost daily, people ask me, ‘Where are your shoes?’ And I say, ‘Oh, don’t worry. They’re safe at home.’ … A lot of times people will ask me, ‘Did someone steal your shoes?’ … I’ve been walking down the sidewalk, people offer me rides. They say, ‘Hey, do you need a ride? Do you need help? Are you OK?’ I say, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ And I’ve had people offer me shoes, offer me socks that they had in their backpack. But I enjoy when people ask.”

TECH JOURNALISM ALERT: “I’m Three Months Facebook-Free,” The Collegian, University of Richmond

Collegian opinion editor Stephanie Manley deleted her Facebook account three months ago after being hacked. She hasn’t rejoined the leading social media network on purpose. As she writes:

“I used to catch myself scrolling through the ‘book’ until I had made my way to my ex-roommate’s friend from college’s brother’s girlfriend. (We’ve all been there; let’s not kid ourselves.) Thirty-plus minutes had gone by and not only had I not made a dent in any of the work I’d hoped to accomplish, I was now jealous of this random girl’s vacation photos and the cute bathing suit she was wearing. … So here I was, having FOMO [fear of missing out] while sitting in the library wearing my gym outfit and sporting zero makeup. Random girl on Facebook: 1, me: 0. Facebook does that to you.”

PROFILE AWESOMENESS ALERT: “A Second Chance at Life,” Fourth Estate, George Mason University

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Fourth Estate editor-in-chief Hau Chu shares an incredible story about an older student-athlete who has followed a decidedly untraditional life path. According to Chu, “After six arrests, an upward of six figures in debt, two failed stints managing restaurants, too many family members lost, 11 years of substance abuse and then a subsequent eight ongoing years of sobriety, certain numbers could define a life. Now, at 37 years old, standing at six-foot-four and tipping the scales at a stout 240 pounds, the number that matters most to Mason junior Ray Niederhausen is two: a second chance.”

SEX & LOVE JOURNALISM ALERT: “UC Berkeley Law Student, Porn Star Talks Balancing School and Work,” The Daily Californian, University of California, Berkeley

For a Q&A included in its most recent sex issue, Arielle Swedback interviews Jeremy Long — a student with an, ahem, interesting side job. As Swedback describes him, “Long is working on a law degree with the goal of one day becoming a public defender. Long is also a porn star. Boasting hundreds of thousands of views per video, he is making a name for himself as one of only a handful of Asian male performers in the American sex industry.”

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“On Becoming an Expert at Napping,” The Daily Trojan, University of Southern California

Daily Trojan columnist Brittany Fleck breaks down the significance of a quick midday cat nap. As she explains, “[S]tudies are finding that an afternoon nap can significantly increase mental alertness and improve mood, particularly in the large number of people who sleep too little at night (AKA overworked college students like ourselves). Because we are so on the go, our bodies might develop a tolerance to how much sleep we need. We have become cruel to our sleep cycle as we test and program our bodies to be able to function on as little amount of sleep as we can get away with, so that we have more time during the day. When we do this, though, our bodies go into an almost autopilot mode. At times, we go through our routines without even realizing what were doing.”

1“U Student Writes Friend Letter Every Day for More Than a Year,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, University of Utah

Let’s talk friendship and the lost art of letter writing. University of Utah junior Gina Allyn was so determined to maintain a kinship and continued communication with her longtime best friend during her friend’s service mission in South Carolina, Allyn wrote her a letter every day for 18 months. OK, technically, she missed one day, but that still equals 552 handwritten letters. As she tells Daily Utah Chronicle staffer Julianne Skrivan about her friend, “It made her famous. All the missionaries knew her. When she would get a new companion the elders would say, ‘Get ready to feel terrible because she gets all the mail.'”

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