Syracuse University Magazine

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A First-Year Exploration of College Life

As a first-year magazine student at the Newhouse School in fall 2013, Kate Beckman ’17 realized there were no campus publications specifically addressing the topics and issues important to freshmen, or where freshmen could take on leadership roles in the editorial process. So she founded Juiced magazine for first-year students at Syracuse University and served as editor-in-chief. She published a digital edition that fall and raised funds via Kickstarter to publish print copies the following semester. At the end of the year, she transitioned the magazine to a new staff of incoming students. “I wanted to provide a platform for freshmen to gain experience with journalism in a way that hadn’t been available before,” she says.

Fresh U LogoA year later, Beckman took the idea of Juiced to a whole new level—a national level. In June 2015, she launched Fresh U, a national online publication offering content for first-year college students across the United States. At launch, it included more than 100 stories penned by over 150 contributing writers from some 50 schools, all of them incoming freshmen.

Since then, more than 1,600 stories have been published on topics ranging from building a friend group to decorating a dorm room to social media behavior. Student writers, whose work is unpaid, also got the chance to reach a wider audience this year when Fresh U entered into a media partnership with Teen Vogue, which now publishes one Fresh U story per week. “It’s a cool experience for our writers and a way to reward them for content that does well and is well written,” Beckman says. “It gives them great exposure.”

In addition to the national version of Fresh U, Beckman helped establish satellite publications, or chapters, at several colleges and universities, providing localized content relevant to students at those schools. Other active Fresh U chapters are found at Northwestern, Northeastern, New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Penn State, and Marymount Manhattan College.

This year also saw the creation of Fresh U HBCU, a national website for freshmen at historically black colleges and universities. Beckman says the idea for the site came from students working on a Fresh U chapter at Howard University. “I realized there are issues unique to HBCU students that weren’t necessarily being addressed by the Fresh U site,” she says. The new site was scheduled to launch in June. “We’re excited to promote HBCU culture and the experience on a scale broader than just one university,” says Howard student Temitayo Adanlawo, the site’s operational manager.

Now on the brink of her senior year at Newhouse, Beckman has big plans for Fresh U. “This past year was kind of like a test run, and I learned a lot,” she says. To make the content more dynamic and less reliant on contributing writers, she established an editorial team that will create more news and feature stories and include multimedia.

She also plans to focus on sponsorship deals and explore native advertising for the site. And she has moved Fresh U to a revenue-share business model, compensating writers with a share of monthly revenue based on the amount of traffic they bring to the site and other qualitative measures. “By implementing revenue share now, it’s telling writers that we value them,” she says. “Because Fresh U is a publication for college freshmen, it’s a new generation of writers’ first introduction to the media world. I want to set the standard that writers should not be writing for free if they are contributing to the monetization of a publication.”     —Wendy S. Loughlin