I know what you’re thinking. “But Julia, didn’t you just do an essay for your last experiment? Isn’t this kind of the same thing?” And my answer to that is yes and no.
Yes, I attempted a personal reflective essay for my second experiment. However, as I wrote my sample I was struggling with the level of background story to include. I ended up concerned that what I was creating was more of a narrative than a reflection. I feel that while I generally liked the style and freedom of the reflective essay, if I had continued in that genre for my full project I would have run into some obstacles. Namely, I would have struggled to include deeply personal reflection (something I have always had difficulty with), and more seriously, the narrative I provided would not have been relatable to a wide audience.
Science journalist, Michelle Nihuis defines an essay as something that is “written in a personal voice, involve one or more journeys, and are relevant not just to the writer but to the reader.” I feel that my previous attempt at an essay would have failed in that final and crucial category. For that reason, I am now attempting a reported essay in the hopes that relevant sources and deep research will aid in the relevance of my essay and help me dig deeper into my own reflection.
A reported essay combines the deep research and credibility of journalism with the open and honest experiences and opinions of the writer. According to Chip Scanlan, a faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the difference between a news article and the reported essay “lies in the quality of the reporting, the depth and value of the insight, and perhaps most of all, the power of the writer’s voice, which derives from those two characteristics.” I believe that this genre will allow me to tell the story of my own experiences on campus with the support of research and existing articles to tap in to potential universal experiences that are relevant to my reader as well.