Source: Maggie Brill
It was this past winter when four Northwestern students decided to dive straight into the deep end.
Their pool of choice? The most pressing issues on campus.
“The Deep End,” a new student organization on campus, will navigate the intersection of journalism and comedy by conducting serious journalistic investigations and presenting findings in an entertaining way.
“My friends and I started this club because we felt like there was something missing on Northwestern’s campus,” co-founder and RTVF freshman Maggie Brill said. “Northwestern has a strong comedy scene and a strong journalism program, but we didn’t feel that there was a space for both to co-exist.”
Brill said the organization hopes to emulate shows such as John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” and Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act,” both of which serve as stylistic inspirations for the show.
In the middle of Winter Quarter, Brill said two of her closest friends, Billy O’Handley, and Owen Pickette came to her with the idea. At the time, they foresaw a “Daily Show for Northwestern,” RTVF freshman Pickette said.
The team soon began brainstorming story ideas, promoting the organization through listervs and in group chats, recruiting staff members, sending out applications and conducting interviews.
Recently, they gained formal ASG recognition as a Northwestern student organization. It will apply for funding next year, a process Pickette said is especially confusing.
“Look out for a piece on ASG next year,” he said, chuckling.
Pickette said the response they received from the student body was overwhelming.
“I figured that there could be a place for this on campus,” Pickette said. “But I never assumed so many people would be so interested, and that has just been a really amazing feeling.”
The organization has already decided on five “story heads” who will oversee the journalistic investigation aspect of production, and manage a team of 15 other journalists. Applications recently closed for the club’s “comedy writers’ room” team, and the group anticipates adding five to ten more staff members to handle graphic design and marketing. All will be overseen by a four-person executive board.
Medill freshman Maggie Galloway is a story head. Galloway said she saw the application in the Medill Class of 2022 Advising GroupMe.
“I was excited because I religiously watch John Oliver and ‘The Daily Show,’ and am also passionate about journalism,” Galloway said. “It is the perfect mix of the things that I love to do.”
She said the investigative team is currently working on a five-minute piece about campus safety. Within the next few days, the journalists will compile their findings into a brief to take to the exec board. The organization hopes to publish the show at the end of Spring Quarter.
Pickette said the team aims to investigate details regarding issues specific to NU’s campus, as well as consulting peer institutions’ approaches to similar issues.
“Our goal for each piece is to hone in on Northwestern to start out, and then broaden the scope for the back half of the piece,” Pickette said. “We want to bring more credibility to the issue, and look at solutions (other institutions) might have that Northwestern hasn’t figured out yet.”
In future quarters, they hope to create quarterly, 15-minute pieces, complete with an introduction as well as focused investigations.
Brill said she thinks “The Deep End” will make an impact on campus as she sees comedy as a unique opportunity to inform.
“People are more likely to pay attention and engage with journalism if it is entertaining,” Brill said.
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