Our Favorite Stories From 2018

2018 was a big year here at 14 East. We moved into our newsroom, launched our Issue series, hosted monthly public newsrooms, received 13 awards for reporting and published our second print anthology. We welcomed new staff, watched old staff prosper in their journalism careers and had many late night, sugar-fueled newsroom parties (who said editing can’t be fun?).  

We also did a lot of writing. In 2018, we published over 170 stories with topics ranging from features on Chicago’s drifting community to the rising health concerns of e-cigarette use among young adults. We started our investigation into the importance tipping has on baristas’ salaries, published our first collaborative article and covered a number of Chicago protests and marches.

As a publication that is three years young, managed by a rag-tag group of college students, we are thankful for the support of administrators, contributors, advisors and readers like you that allowed us to learn, take chances and grow. As we look back on the year and prepare for the one ahead, here are some of our favorite stories from 2018:

Managing Editor Cody Corrall Chose: A Walk Up Michigan

As someone not from Chicago, my first perception of Michigan Ave. was that it was way too expensive and full of tourists. But like many streets in Chicago, Michigan Ave. is more than the “Magnificent Mile” moniker it’s advertised as — it’s long and changes with every step you take to reflect different neighborhoods and communities. Associate editor Chris Silber walked up the entire 8.5 miles of Michigan Ave. as he chatted with people who lived and worked there, took photos and dug deep into a history that has been erased over time. It was great to work with Chris on how to tell the story visually with the layout of photos, interactive mapping and audio clips to make it seem as though the reader is going on the journey with him. “A Walk Up Michigan” is a story that beams with curiosity, community and innovative multimedia storytelling — making it indicative of what 14 East does best.

Editor in Chief Madeline Happold Chose: The Missing

Great stories are gripping, informative and evoke feeling. They stick with you, haunt you. That’s how I feel about previous associate editor Emma Krupp’s “The Missing.” Emma attended the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office’s second Missing Person’s Day, where families members could gather to file reports and find emotional support amongst others going through the similar situations. The shared stories are poignant, the sentiment of those hopeful yet heartbreaking. I was the assigned editor for the piece and can attest to the consideration and sensitivity Emma took with her reporting. How we spent Thursday night exchanging edits, arguing over words, how edits actually happened the night of publication because the writing gnawed at Emma all week. The story is filled with so much detail, so many people, that they all feel present until you remember the reason they’re meeting. I can picture the smiles of the missing on the button-filled jacket to this day.

Associate Editor Francesca Mathewes Chose: The Power of Pets for College Students

I grew up with pets, always. Cats, dogs, lizards, fish and at one point, even a few guinea pigs. It’s a part of my childhood and life at home that I think about often and missed a whole lot during my first year at DePaul and even more now that I’m living off campus. Walking through the front door at the end of a long day, tossing my bags to the ground and embracing my furry friends in a big heap of slobbery dog kisses and warm kitten purrs was something I cherished, something that made me feel warm and safe. Since moving off campus, I’ve given serious consideration to adopting a pet of my own, but the thought usually stops short as soon as I remember all of the times my parents came back from a visit to the vet or the pet store complaining of empty wallets, or the hours I spent cleaning cat boxes and scooping dog poop from the backyard. It’s something I go back and forth on a lot, and this article by Editor in Chief Madeline Happold laid out what it’s actually like to own a pet in college with some really honest interviews by people at DePaul who own pets of their own. I’m still very undecided on the whole pet thing, but reading this article made me feel like it’s something I can achieve!

Web Developer Meredith Melland Chose: A Race Without Candidates

At the end of April, DePaul’s student government plunged into limbo because all of the Student Government Association’s presidential candidates resigned or were disqualified mid-election. One of the many things I love about the 14 East team is its collective willingness to drop everything and work together to chase a last-minute story if we think readers could benefit from our longform multimedia take. The staff divided to conquer this five-part mammoth in two days and get as many perspectives as possible, even as every part of the story continually changed. The result is a timely article that looks at the weird elements of meme candidates and election operations in depth, lays out the timeline in a choice infographic from multimedia wizard Cody Corrall and attempts to address the value of student government in DePaul student culture.

Community Engagement Editor Marissa Nelson Chose: Love Issue

This year at 14 East we started publishing “issues.” Each month we choose a theme — like mental health or back to school — and reserve one week’s publishing to articles surrounding that topic. Though we try to begin working on our issue a month out, our staff inevitably begins a handful of new stories the Monday before we publish (there’s nothing like the pressure of a deadline to spark a journalist’s curiosity). Needless to say, we spend the Thursday before we publish scrambling to finish edits, following up with sources and taking multiple coffee breaks. Though chaotic, issue weeks are my favorite and I believe some of our staff and contributing writers’ best work has come from them. So, instead of choosing one article (and because “all of them” would be a cop out answer), my favorite thing we published in 2018 is our Love Issue.

Associate Editor Chris Silber Chose: The Discourse of Death

Do you talk about death? Though dying is inevitable, discussing the topic of death is somewhat a taboo in our society. Contributor Rachel Fernandez interviewed a variety of people related to dealing with death, from the recently deceased and their families to a cemetery tour guide. The article dives into how we approach dying, the history of American funerals and burials and the resources people use to find comfort in dying. The article is informative and creative, and the straight forward approach to writing about death is refreshing. Conversations about how we deal with death are growing, and it’s a good thing.

Associate Editor Dylan Van Sickle Chose: The Gorgeous Ladies of Arm Wrestling

I like stories that introduce you to the unknown with elements of the familiar, and Managing Editor Cody Corrall’s work in “The Gorgeous Ladies of Arm Wrestling” is exactly that. Most people possess at least a basic understanding of theater, arm wrestling and sequin-clad sports entertainment. But this story seamlessly connects all three, introducing readers to the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW). The result is a warm, informative example of how many people can help through having fun.

Multimedia Editor Natalie Wade Chose: Sleep Paralysis: Real Life Nightmares

Journalists don’t always get to write personal stories, but when given the opportunity they can be some of the most interesting, informative and inspiring. 14 East’s very own Director of Development MiKayla Rose Price wrote about the terror of sleep paralysis and her own battle with it. She shares her knowledge on the topic, as well as some coping mechanisms for anyone having similar issues. I hope to continue to see writers being brave enough tackle these hard to talk about subjects because you never know who you might end up helping.

 

Header image by Cody Corrall