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Spoon University founder, members of NU chapter excited about deal with major media network

Catherine Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

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Spoon University, founded in 2013 by two Northwestern students, has been acquired by Scripps Networks Interactive, a move members of the NU chapter say will lead to several new opportunities and resources for individual chapters across the country.

According to Reuters, Spoon University is valued at about 10 million dollars. However, Sarah Adler (Medill ’13), who co-founded the food publication with Mackenzie Barth (Communication ’13), said details of the deal have not been released.

Though Adler said the acquisition, which occurred May 3, will not change the way Spoon University is operated, she is excited to see the new resources that will be available to the publication.

“Nothing is changing except that hopefully we will … give our members experiences so much better that we can get significantly more chapters, significantly more members, make the network stronger and make it a more valuable experience for everybody,” Adler said.

Adler said one of the most unique aspects of Spoon University from an investment perspective is its concentration on user experience. The company’s engineers spend a “vast majority” of their time making tools that will enhance the user experience, she said. The staff in New York spend time producing training tools, which will create better experiences for users, Adler said.

Spoon University appeals to Scripps Networks Interactive because of the publication’s large young audience, Adler said. With the development of social media, there is a need to understand how younger people are consuming content differently, she said.

“Our generation, we want to be creating content and participating in conversations actively instead of passively consuming it. We want to be heard,” she said. “What Spoon University is trying to do is to help people who want to accomplish those goals, build that for themselves in a way that they could have never done for themselves and then help everyone else who can benefit from that work gain access to it.”

Medill sophomore Ashley Hackett, editorial director of Spoon University’s NU chapter, said the publication has the ability to capitalize on the growing food industry through social media because the users are the content creators.

“Spoon has such a college-aged voice,” Hackett said. “Everyone who contributes is pretty much a college student and we know how to write for our own audience.”

Hackett said she was initially wary when she received an email from headquarters, which explained the deal would give members more opportunities and acquire more equipment for videos and photos. Her concern was that individual voices can be stifled when bought by big companies, she said.

However, Hackett said she is no longer concerned about the publication’s creative freedom being impacted because each chapter of Spoon University has the ability to produce its own content with little external interference.

SESP senior Mariel Falk, manager of the NU chapter, said this is an “exciting and really impressive” next step for Spoon University and a testament of its successful work over the past few years. Even with the change, Spoon University will continue to be a “relatable” magazine, she said.

“Spoon is written by people about their personal experiences as college students with food,” Talk said. “It’s for that audience as well, so it speaks peer-to-peer and that definitely makes Spoon such a relatable magazine.”

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