While other Ball State students were cramped in a trailer, I was tapping the keys of my laptop in the comfort of my living room more than 200 miles away.
The Indiana State Fair isn’t a fair without carnival noises, cows and llamas, funnel cakes and lemon shake-ups.
But as the rest of the BSU Journalism at the Fair students were producing and publishing content for Indiana news outlets, I was editing that content on an Illinois couch. While the team had “family fun” at the fair, I spent time with my family at home. There were days I edited in my pajamas, and there were days I edited while the rest of my family ate dinner.
Needless to say, my experience as a part of this project was a bit different from everyone else involved.
But despite distance detaching me from the rest of the fair, I still felt like a part of the group. I messaged team members through Slack, which we used to organize communication, so it wasn’t as if we had no interaction. The group would sometimes joke and act as silly as I imagine it did in the cramped trailer it called a home (I have to admit, I’m glad I was free of the cramped trailer).
And while I didn’t get to know the team through face-to-face interaction, I did get to know the team members through their work: the way they wrote a story, the personality exuded in their blogs, the angles and types of photos they took, the style of their videos.
By now, I could probably guess who wrote each story without looking at the byline.
For the rest of the team, a big part of this project was experiencing the fair.
I missed out on the chance to try food and rides, but I could imagine the experiences from the content the team produced. I met people through the way our reporters wrote about them and the way our photographers captured them.
So I didn’t directly take part in the fair, but I still had a taste of the experience.
For me, the biggest part of the project was simply the work. Editing content became a part of my daily routine, and I gained plenty of work experience through that. Most of what I normally edit is news-based content, so copy editing for an entirely features-based project helped me understand something different.
My part in the Indiana State Fair was work from a distance, in a living room instead of a trailer, with my fingers stepping around my keyboard instead of my feet stepping around the fair.
It wasn’t a traditional Indiana State Fair experience by any means, but I still found myself becoming a part of the BSU Journalism at the Fair team.
Daniel Brount is a copy editor for BSU Journalism at the Fair, a group of 30 students telling Indiana’s stories from a trailer somewhere between the cheese sculpture and the state’s biggest sow. This Ball State immersive-learning project works for elephant ears.