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Introducing essays to The Rapidian content

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Rapidian Essay Submission

Selections will be made by the Content Editor. All submissions are welcomed; not all will be able to be selected.

Please submit your essay - no longer than 2,000 words and meeting the guidelines of quality, location and benefit - to [email protected].

Since starting at The Rapidian in January, I’ve been doing a lot of listening, observing and analyzing. I’ve been looking for what’s missing: what content our readers and reporters are wanting but not getting. The two things I’ve noticed trending is the need for hard news in our area and the desire for essays to be included in our content.

And I agree with both of those suggestions wholeheartedly.

Hard news, of course, already has a place; we just need more reporters taking that challenge on. (Please do!) Essay, on the other hand, is a new kind of writing for us. The Rapidian isn’t a place for just any nonfiction writing, of course. We are a hyperlocal citizen journalism project after all, so our essays will need to fit within the context of why we’re here. But essays can fit very well into our context. As evidenced by Roberta King’s recent submission, an essay can add an important layer to our community.

Essays generally fall into two categories. There is the personal essay, a story from one’s life, told from the “I” perspective. Then there is the journalistic essay, giving a “he/she” perspective. There are explanations of how to write an essay and examples of great essays that fit well in journalism.

We are a community. So I propose we create a new form of essay, a story of the community. “Rapidian Essays” are told with an emphasis on the “we” perspective. We are Rapidians. We have experiences specific to our lives together in Grand Rapids: experiences in the community that deserve to be shared with the community. Sharing those experiences with one another builds our community.

So let’s start sharing those experiences. Essays will be submitted directly to the content editor (that’s me), and selected essays will then be shared as a special feature article.

Rapidian Essays will present a compelling combination of the following:  

  1. Quality: We are looking for a well-written essay. You don’t have to be a paid professional to be able to write a good article. In fact, that’s the assumption that we’re running on here at The Rapidian. But we do want to take the time to tell our stories well. We want a good story.
  2. Location: The hyperlocal requirement of all our articles applies to essay as well. Essays need to be set firmly in the community and strongly connected to the community. If it’s a story of what you did in your house with your immediate family and there’s no clear interaction with the community around you, The Rapidian probably isn’t the place for your article. We want to tell our story.
  3. Benefit: The essay needs to add to the community’s understanding of each other or enrich the community in some meaningful way. Did you learn something that we all can learn from? Are others in Grand Rapids also living this same story and need to be reminded that they are not the only ones? Though you don’t need to spell it out in your essay, that element needs to be a part of your essay’s purpose. We want a communally beneficial story.

So bring it on. Send in your essays; share your experiences with your community. We can all benefit from sharing our story.


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