Photo courtesy of Sara Schmitt

With the advent of the internet, everyone and their mother now have the opportunity to spread their ideas to the world in a matter of seconds. Traditional print journalism has largely shifted in a digital-focused direction, and countless new publications have sprung up in the wake of the biggest communication revolution in history.

Although it has never been easier to become a writer, the resulting flood of people eager to have their voices heard have largely watered down the world of journalism.

Sites like the Tab and the Odyssey, online publications by and for college students, have become some of the biggest contributors to this phenomenon. Rather than focus on quality, these outlets strive only to attract clicks, likes and shares. This is not to say that everything on these sites is bad, but by skewing their goals towards sensationalized clickbait these outlets offer very little in the way of journalistic integrity or development as a writer.

Edits are minimal, as are fact checks. The appeal of these sites lies almost solely in their ubiquity; students feel that they have something to say and these widely-read outlets give them a chance to finally be heard. There is a sense that, due to their wide exposure, they have created something with genuine and real value.

I believe quite firmly that if someone writes something, they are a writer. Everyone has something to say and deserves to have it heard. That being said, avenues such as the Odyssey and Buzzfeed offer nothing more than a sick  and twisted bastardization of true journalism, one in which your ideas will be whored out for shares next to a list of “10 Reasons Why My Big is Literally the Most Perfect Human.” Because they refuse to set a standard for quality in their articles, every single thing these sites publish has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Misinformation and sensationalism run rampant, while weekly quotas force writers to produce content just for the sake of producing it. Many disastrous articles, content that should never see the light of day, are published simply because writers were forced to submit something in order to meet their weekly deadline.

I am no stranger to these sites. I was a big contributor to both the Tab and the Odyssey, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you should keep your ideas far, far away from them. Publish to sites like Medium, or better yet start a blog and take ownership of your own content. People will take your writing more seriously when it is not posted alongside meaningless clickbait. Have some self respect. Damn.