Writing Wrongs, founded by independent writer and editor Dawn Heinbach, is a literary journalism program focused on shining a light on society’s injustices. Open to all American undergraduate students majoring in any subject, and graduate students in any program of study, the multimedia program enables student journalists to investigate and write articles about issues and perspectives that are otherwise ignored or inaccurately represented in popular media. . In addition to writing, students are also able to apply for positions in film, design, and social media. “Hands-on experience is the best teacher,” says Writing Wrongs advisory council member Donna Singleton. “They come with skills and learn more through using those skills in a real setting.”
Each year the program chooses to focus on a different topic, and for 2019, the topic is “The LGBTQ+ Community.”
SC&I sophomore and Journalism and Media Studies and Political Science double major Mia Boccher applied to Writing Wrongs, and was accepted. As part of the program, she traveled with the Writing Wrongs staff to The LGBT Center of Greater Reading in Pennsylvania over labor day weekend to interview members of the community. Students spent a total of three days filming, editing, and writing about members of the center. “They were really amazing. They have support groups and activities and there are a lot of different people of different ages and backgrounds coming to the center,” said Boccher.
While in Pennsylvania, students collaborated with each other to work on their articles as a team. Advisors were also present over the weekend to give students occasional guidance, but they ultimately left students to their own devices. According to Heinbach, students interviewed over 20 people at the center and split the work evenly between themselves.
Writing Wrongs will create a completed book file of all the students’ work from the weekend, and will publish it sometime in October to celebrate LGBTQ History Month as well as National Coming Out Day. “I really recommend people apply to Writing Wrongs because if you want to be a writer, journalist, or graphic designer, it pushes you to create a finished project in just a few days,” said Boccher. She added, “It builds fantastic networking skills because we have students that come from all over to do this book and we’re all still connected.”
Singleton said the purpose of the program is to give students the opportunity to learn about a subject they are interested in and create something they are passionate about. “The students seem to learn a great deal and enjoy the experience. They always seem totally committed to the full experience. The finished publications are a testament to the wonderful work they accomplish,” Singleton said.
Heinbach said that a reason the program chose The LGBTQ+ Community for this year’s theme is because in August, the Trump administration rolled back more rights for LGBTQ with the amicus brief. Heinbach explained that this fails to protect those who identify as transgender from discrimination in the workplace, “so it was good timing to bring awareness to things like that happening in the community.”
This marks the fifth year the program has existed, and this year it also enrolled the highest number of participating students -- 15 from different colleges and universities. Heinbach says that, should the program continue to grow, she hopes to be able to accept students from additional states.
In order to apply for the program, students are required to submit an initial application in May and then an official packet in June to demonstrate their skills. Boccher says that she was happy to be involved in something she is passionate about. “Because I identify as non-binary it was really great talking to people having the same experience. We had really nice conversations that I think I’ll remember forever,” said Boccher.