January 29, 2014
Travis Trombley, '14, has worked to define community journalism through sharing a wide range of stories for The Pleiad, the weekly student newspaper at Albion College.
He will be rewarded for that work January 31 when he receives one of the Michigan Press Association Foundation’s Community Journalism Scholarships.
“The definition of community journalism, to me, is multifaceted,” Trombley, a product of Monroe, said. “The first part entails the obvious—community. Going out into the place you live and reporting on the people who live there, including actions and events.
“There are also the communities we create,” he added. “An example might be online communities or people with similar interests getting together. There are communities within the community. It’s about finding those interests, highlighting those people and what they’re doing in those areas.”
Trombley’s definition of community journalism has led to stories ranging from coverage of the aftermath of a September 11 wind storm that took out trees and power lines and forced the college to cancel classes for two days, to the announcement of the production of more Star Wars films after Disney acquired Lucas Arts, to campus communities such as a video game class.
“Feature writing, in essence, is community writing,” Trombley said.
“The most unique story I covered was the microburst,” he added. “I fell asleep in my fourth-floor apartment after getting out of class early and woke up to the window getting hit by a tree.”
An engaging and inquisitive personality, Trombley has woven his community journalism work with a summer research project sponsored by the college’s Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity examining the similarities between superheroes and mythology.
“I was trying to answer as objectively as possible this question of ‘Are superheroes modern mythology?’” Trombley explained. “The answer I came up with is while there are superficial similarities between the superhero genre and other myths—they have lasted a long time, they are revisionary text, they reflect their respective societies for a long period of time—the fundamental tie is lacking. The superhero genre is not mythology yet, but it has a good chance of becoming something.
“Community journalism is something I don’t mind spending extra time on,” he added. “I’m doing my job when I’m reporting, and I love that.”
An English major with a minor in psychology and a concentration in secondary education, Trombley says his experience in community journalism will translate when he launches his career leading students in the classroom.
“It will help me navigate various communities,” Trombley said.