Shannon Philpott – Feature this! : CMA 2010

After a scrumptious bagel breakfast at Einstein Bros. Bagels (I’m seriously obsessed with this place now,) I was raring to go to my next session, the jam-packed Feature This!

Speaker Shannon Philpott used examples from the newspaper she advises at St. Louis Community College Meramec, The Montage. Philpott asked us about all the typical, boring features we normally run, and gave examples of what her paper does.

I’m not going to call the session earth shattering, or call Philpott’s ideas unique in any way. What I will say is that somehow while listening to the presentation, I had tons of good ideas for future features, both for A&E and Bonnie’s section.

Here’s what I came up with in the 45 or so minutes we were there:

–       Ice cream guy in Gibsonville : profile

–       Tattooed people on campus, where to get them nearby

–       West Area cats – who feeds them?

–       Day in the life of : Arts and Letters, Performing Arts LCs

–       First chair violinist : profile

–       Audition process for big play

–       Weird theatre classes (scary makeup class?)

–       Student gardening class

–       How to: scuba dive

–       Dining hall review : which is best?

–       Why no elevators in any building ever?

I was at one point, and at only one point, in direct opposition with what Philpott claimed. We discussed running reviews on things from CDs to books to theatre, and she rightly said that reviews should never be more than half, or close to half of your style section. I agree. However, the point was brought up that, essentially, who is the school newspaper to be the authority on anything we review? Music, books, theatre or other things?

I would argue, that who says we are not the expert? The point of producing some consumable material is that there are real people out there – not just music experts or theatre snobs – that will see and react to your material. If you’re not pleasing them, then you’re not doing your job. Thus, someone with no theatre background reviewing theatre is completely within his or her bounds to do so – that person is the intended audience. You don’t have to be an expert to recognize when acting is bad, or when chords are wrong – you just know because it feels wrong. It also doesn’t take a genius to see where acting is good or music is harmonious. It simply happens.

I will continue running reviews and opinions, because the opinion of the constituent is the most important one to the maker of whatever product is being reviewed. If the food stinks, people should know. Everyone has to eat, everyone has an opinion and the paper should be a place for average Joes to be able to voice said opinion.

-Lauren Ramsdell


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