When I was asked to teach a freelance writing course in SCAD’s graduate professional writing program, I worried that I would be unable to replicate the realities of freelance writing. I could assign projects that reflected various types of freelance writing but could I convey the challenges of developing and pitching fresh ideas for a unique publication, the pressures of deadline, and the dynamics of writer-editor relationships? Could classroom lectures and anecdotes express the complexities of an emerging story whose angle has shifted unexpectedly or the joy and satisfaction of seeing your first byline?
Then Lee Todd, SCAD Ivy Hall’s coordinator of cultural programs, came to me with a proposition. Lee had invited Atlanta INtown publisher Wendy Binns and editor Collin Kelley to visit Ivy Hall and discuss opportunities to work together. After learning more about SCAD’s writing program, Wendy and Collin proposed a collaboration between INtown and SCAD-Atlanta. What began as an opportunity to work together became the “INtown Takeover,” in which the students of my freelance writing class served as INtown’s stable of freelance writers.
Wendy and Collin were excited to both further the paper’s mission of community involvement and develop a partnership in which students pitched, researched and developed, and wrote the majority of the July issue. I was excited that the students would have the opportunity to experience writing beyond the vacuum of the classroom, in which the collaboration would serve as a practicum and students would have the chance to navigate the often-taxing waters of freelance writing. We all believed the collaboration was a great idea but weren’t sure what would happen.
Following our first editorial meeting with Wendy and Collin, however, students quickly appreciated the INtown mission to represent and inform the Intown communities. After researching back issues and neighborhoods, they mapped out the paper’s readership and began to brainstorm ideas. Still, one aspect of the project concerned them: they understood the paper and its audience but they also wanted the July edition to represent the SCAD-Atlanta student’s perspective of Atlanta. Would Wendy and Collin give them that kind of freedom? Could they truly takeover the newspaper and give it the SCAD spin?
The July issue is testament to the success of our collaboration. Wendy and Collin were excited to get fresh ideas from young writers, and students were eager to develop their own stories written in their own voices. They have not only added their distinctive voices to Atlanta INtown but also contributed to marketing and promotional strategies, the cover concept, online video content, and even a column on beer. Students learned what it’s like to pitch a great idea only to have it fizzle in development and then to rise again in revision, to track down elusive subjects for interviews, to feel the displeasure of an unsatisfied editor, and to finally hear, “this looks great.”
The “INtown Takeover” was in fact a collaborative effort. Many thanks go to Lee Todd for fostering the idea from the beginning and supporting us through the quarter, to the SCAD-Atlanta professional writing program for always encouraging inventive paths to learning, to Wendy and Collin for inviting us in to their wonderful publication and listening to what the students had to offer, and, of course, to the SCAD-Atlanta students whose names you will find as bylines below the compelling stories they found right in their own backyards. I hope you have as much fun as we did.
Meet the SCAD INtown Takeover Team at this link.
Read the entire SCAD INtown Takeover issue online in our digital edition at this link. To read more stories here at the website, click on IN PRINT.