As I have started writing for Odyssey, often it becomes a conversation starter. I love talking about it, as do most of the members on my team here at Richmond. But, every time we get into one of these conversations about the Odyssey, one of these two comments occur without fail: “What is that?” or “Oh, that website sucks.” After hearing these time and time again, I have decided to address what the Odyssey is, what we do as creators, and why, no, it does not suck.
“Odyssey is the social media platform that democratizes how news and other content is created and consumed, enriching people’s lives with new, honest, meaningful ideas and enabling businesses to build relationships with more engaged audiences.” Okay, so that is the definition on the “about” page for the Odyssey. But what does it really mean? This website aims to reach millennials through genuine, pretty much unfiltered thoughts and ideas. The other most important part of that definition is that it is a social media platform. We will get to that later.
I am one of 15,000 creators who are all designated to certain communities throughout the United States. For example, I applied and now write for the University of Richmond Odyssey community. Each community has multiple editors, some in the local community and some in New York at the Odyssey headquarters that are assigned to specific communities. Every article gets seen by at least two pairs of eyes. There are thousands of these Odyssey communities across the US, a lot of them taking root on college campuses. This is what they call a 360-degree view. Every single week, the thousands of creators from the thousands of communities are contributing to this platform with their individual voices.
What does being a creator actually entail? It is low-commitment, but then again, it’s what you make of it. Each week, you must submit an article. After it is edited, twice, it is published on your specific page on the Odyssey. Then it’s up to you to attract readers. Each creator is different, and the voices that creators bring to the table are all extremely diverse, which makes the Odyssey so interesting.
Yet, this component is also what causes it to have a negative reputation.
Let’s get back to the fact that the Odyssey is a social media platform. Therefore, it is in the same family as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. To define social media and put this more into perspective, they are “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Constantly I am hearing people tear down the Odyssey based on a single article they read. There may have been a million grammatical errors, disturbing content, a severe lack of research; I could go on and on because I have seen it all. But, when you see a dumb tweet, or a ridiculous Facebook post, do you swear to never go on those sites again? Do you denounce them as a whole? No. You blame the person behind the post. Which, is exactly how it SHOULD BE for Odyssey. While there are hundreds of editors, in the end it is up to the creator to provide valuable content.Odyssey isn’t pretending to be something it’s not; so, let’s not label it as something it’s not.