This Is Odyssey

This Is Odyssey

What you didn't know about this startup platform.
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All across the country, the millennial generation is penning its’ thoughts. Whether it be about an injustice in the community, a view on the upcoming presidential election, or even just “20 Thoughts While Watching Netflix” with a few .gif images wedged in, Odyssey Online is voicing the opinions of the next generation.

From the comfort of their dorm rooms (with a bulk of writers being college students), they are creating a slew of articles with titles like: “The Honeybee Crisis,” or, “What’s The Truth About Vaping?,” or, “Why Cruz And Kasich Backing Out Is Bad For Women,” that pop into your Facebook news feed. Odyssey hands over the storytelling conch shell to the millennial generation to report the news, share personal anecdotes, or rally up some laughs with a .gif-heavy listicle.

Started in 2009 by then Indiana University student Evan Burns, and now current CEO, Burns wanted his campus newspaper and other local news outlets at Indiana University to cover more Greek life events. He launched his own print Greek life-centric newspaper (deriving the name Odyssey from the Greek system) and tailored his publication to bring alive the issues college students want to read and write about that were not covered in the school newspaper.

After proving to be a success on his campus, Burns allowed other large universities, such as San Diego State University, University of South Carolina and University of Alabama, to establish their own print chapters.

In 2014, in order to boost circulation, Burns saw an opportunity to develop Odyssey further by going completely digital. After receiving a hefty amount of funding, he hired web engineers to launch an online platform completely native to Odyssey, says managing editor Hilarey Wojtowicz. From there, Odyssey’s community pool began to snowball exponentially, having only 90 communities in 2014 to approximately 1,000 communities nationwide today. With 11,000 articles being published every week and over 30 million unique monthly users, the platform quickly made a name for itself.

While many traditional companies, websites and publishers follow the top down model, where editors assign articles to writers, Odyssey follows the bottom-up model, granting writers the freedom to write about whatever may be tumbleweeding through their mind.

While over 600 Odyssey chapters are based on college campuses, the remaining chapters are geographic communities where aspiring storytellers aged 18-28, not necessarily enrolled in a college or university program, are invited to come draft their thoughts.

For example, if a chapter was launched in Ewing, New Jersey, where The College of New Jersey already has an existing chapter, high school students, post-graduates and other locals in the area would be able to join the geographic community.

Friday night marks the deadline for writers. After submission to the content management system, named MUSE, each article goes through three rounds of editing before going live on either Monday or Tuesday of the following week. The chapter’s local Editor-in-Chief is the first edit, then a freelance copy editor, focusing on AP style, grammar, spelling, punctuation and format, makes the necessary revisions in round two. Finally, articles continue to a Managing Editor’s screen. It's the ME who performs the final sweep - examining content, headlines, dismissing any vulgar terminology or bullying/violence insinuations and overall, checking that each piece is up to brand guidelines before hitting publish.

While there is a very structured editorial process, the majority of the articles published weekly are the writer's words, untouched, as editors do not want to misconstrue the writer’s voice, and focus mainly on copy editing tasks rather than changing words around.

According to Business Insider, Odyssey has raised over $25 million from its investors, and is referred to as “a college newspaper on steroids.” -- not too shabby for a startup. As of right now, Odyssey profits on advertising, sponsored content and traffic-based revenue, as well as earnings from the number of page views and clicks. However, as the company grows, they intend to return more money to its writers, who are currently unpaid.

Odyssey offers a writer incentive program. The author of the most-shared article on social media in his or her community each week is rewarded $20, encouraging writers to publish engaging content in order to garner more page views.

Writers also reap the other benefits of being a contributor. A worthy resume entry, writing clips, knowledge of how to use a content management system and having an array of accessible resources and mentors available to them, such as the Odyssey managing team.

Other similar online platforms, such as HerCampus (also unpaid), with 300 college campus chapters worldwide and 9,000 contributors, according to its website, differ from Odyssey by catering only to females. HerCampus also requires its writers to hold an editorial position to gain access to the content managing system.

Odyssey users receive the experience of uploading their article to the content management system, choosing a headline and cover photo, choosing the slug the article gets filed under and inputting keywords to make their article more accessible on search engines. This setup teaches contributors the ins-and-outs of content management, an invaluable skill in the media and publishing industries.

HerCampus writers do not gain this kind of experience - rather they simply email their work to editors who perform behind-the-scenes magic before an article goes live on the site. Not to mention, HerCampus follows a top-down model, assigning its writers articles.

Platforms such as HerCampus may have writers join for a few weeks, whereas Odyssey thrives on consistency.

To keep a constant stable of writers working for the publication, Odyssey takes a triple-strike approach. When writers fail to submit their weekly article without a valid excuse, they receive a strike - and just like in baseball, three strikes and you’re out.

Also, just recently, Odyssey 2.0 was rolled out, revamping a user’s experience by allowing writers to not only be a creator on the back end of the site, but also be a user on the front end. The new “follow” feature allows writers to follow topics or other writers and fully engage with the content. Because so many articles are published each week, the ability to find select writers and topics makes the platform more personalized for readers following their interests, whether they are published by a writer in their own chapter or across the country.

Odyssey has also allowed their content creators to put the pen down and pick the recorder up, launching a podcast option for writers to create and publish, which is now available on iTunes.

While Odyssey adds on more options to renovate its platform, the contributors continue to bask in this millennial-style platform tailored particularly towards them.

This is Odyssey.

Cover Image Credit: Odyssey

Popular Right Now

18 Bible Verses That Prove God Would NOT Be 'Pro-Life'

Stop using the Bible as an excuse to take away women's rights.

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"Abortion is WRONG because God (the highest authority) says so! Not because I say so, or "religious" people say so or the government says so...because the CREATOR OF ALL HUMAN LIFE SAYS SO."

This argument is bullshit and I'm sick of hearing it, because it just isn't true. All these Christians claim that the Bible and God says that abortion is wrong, and it's clear they've never read the Bible. Have you ever seen them use a biblical verse to validate their claims? Yeah, me neither. And you know why? BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS NOT PRO-LIFE. They pick and choose vague verses to attempt to back up these ridiculous claims, completely ignoring the damning evidence that the Bible, and therefore God, actually supports child murder, infanticide, and abortion.

Unlike pro-lifers, I'll actually provide some evidence:

1. Numbers 31:17 "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him"

2. Deuteronomy 2:34 "And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain"

3. Deuteronomy 28:53 "And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the seige, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee"

4. 1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass"

5. Isaiah 13:16 "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished"

6. Isaiah 13:18 "Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children"

7. Ezekiel 9:6 "Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house"

8. Hosea 9:14 "Give them, O Lord: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts"

9. Hosea 13:16 "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up"

10. 2 Kings 2:24 "And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them"

11. Psalm 137:9 "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones"

12. Numbers 5:21 "-here the priest is to put the woman under his curse- "may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell"

13. Hosea 9:16 "Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb"

14. Psalm 135:8 "He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and of beast;"

15. Psalm 136:10 "-to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever"

16. 2 Kings 6:28-29 "And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.So we boiled by son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son"

17. Leviticus 26:29 "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat"

18. Jeremiah 11:22 "Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:"


Stop using your religion to try and push propoganda that "God says abortion is wrong because it kills innocent children." Clearly your God doesn't care about killing children. There is more than enough proof that the Bible and God are NOT pro-life. Stop acting like you're good Christians upholding the values of God when you clearly haven't picked up the Bible and actually read it. God doesn't agree with your backwards thinking. Maybe try do your research before spewing your religious bullshit to try and take away women's rights.

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The Major Issues In The 2020 Democratic Primary

There are 22 candidates officially running at the moment, here are their most well-known positions.

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The Democratic Party is searching far and wide for a presidential candidate that can beat Trump in the 2020 election. While we know Trump's major focuses: immigration reform, tax reform, militaristic international policy, etc. it's anyone's guess how the Democratic candidate will choose to strategize. Bernie focused on free college, healthcare, and the minimum wage, while Hillary emphasized women's issues among other typical Democratic platforms.

Many candidates have taken up the signature democratic platform of Medicare for all. With Bernie Sanders running again, this is, of course, a focus of his campaign. Julián Castro, former housing secretary and mayor of San Antonio, is also focused on Medicare for all, as is John Delaney, a former congressman from Maryland. John Hickenlooper, a former governor and mayor from Colorado is emphasizing Medicaid. Also in the medical realm is Amy Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota, who is tackling the opioid crisis and drug addiction as well as the cost of prescription drugs. A former congressman from Texas, famous for his run in 2018, Beto O'Rourke is tackling the specific issue of rural hospital access. Eric Swalwell, a Congressman from California, is additionally running on increasing funding for medical research

Another common issue on the democratic agenda, improving income inequality is on the mind of several candidates. Former Vice President Joe Biden is focusing on empowering low-income workers, while Steve Bullock, former Governor of Montana, as well as Pete Buttigieg, a military veteran and former Mayor from Indiana, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, a Senator from Massachusetts, are running on shrinking the income inequality gap. Tim Ryan, a Congressman from Ohio, is focusing on workplace and union development to help the middle class, while Bernie Sanders is taking his well-known approach of free college for all. Wayne Messam, a Mayor from Florida, is also looking at addressing student debt. Andrew Yang, who has never had a career in politics, is prioritizing a universal basic income, an option being discussed by no other candidate. Kamala Harris, a Senator from California, is specifically focused on tax cuts for middle-class families.

On the social front, John Hickenlooper has worked on gay rights in the past, while Kamala Harris is focused on an overall liberal social agenda. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Senator from New York and the founder of #metoo, is running on her longstanding platform of gender equality and women's rights.

Immigration reform is also a focus, with Julián Castro, Wayne Messam and Beto O'Rourke making it central to their platforms. Biden is running on improving international relations as is Tulsi Gabbard, a Congresswoman from Hawaii, who is emphasizing opposition to military involvement overseas. Seth Moulton, a Congressman from Massachusetts, is also making foreign policy a big part of his campaign, but rather in terms of national defense and security.

Michael Bennett, a Senator from Colorado, played a role in creating a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013 and is running on the support of bipartisan communication. Also calling for unification across party lines is Cory Booker, a Senator from New Jersey, as is John Delaney and John Hickenlooper. Several candidates are focused on gun reform, including Steve Bullock, John Hickenlooper, Wayne Messam, and Eric Swalwell, specifically including a ban on assault weapons.

In terms of climate change legislation, Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state, is running on creating more jobs in renewable energy. Pete Buttigieg is also speaking about climate change reform, trying to appeal to younger voters based on his own generational standing. Wayne Messam is also focusing on environmental issues.

Smaller focus areas for certain candidates include infrastructure, a focus of Michael Bennett, as well as improving trade deals, emphasized by Tim Ryan. Steve Bullock and Julián Castro are emphasizing federally funded early childhood education. Michael Bennett is also focusing on expanding the job force, specifically in up and coming areas such as artificial intelligence. Cory Booker is running on criminal justice reform, while Steve Bullock and Elizabeth Warren are tackling political corruption and campaign finance reform. Beto O'Rourke wants to legalize Marijuana, while Marianne Williamson, a non-politician, is running on the fascinating platform of putting federal money towards economic and education projects to repair damages from slavery.

While many candidates are focused on various aspects of the typical democratic platform, some interesting new ideas will potentially be brought into the primary cycle. It is anyone's guess who will win the democratic ticket, but as we get ready to declare our support and eventually place our vote, make sure you know the issues at hand. For an easy and comprehensive quiz to take to see who's policy you might support visit https://www.isidewith.com.

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