Ever wonder what happens when someone actually interested in pursuing a future in journalism joins Bwog? Pseudo-srat stars Rachel Deal and Asya Sagnak take on the important task of proving to the world that Bwog is a legitimate publication. Thanks for the inspiration, Theta!
It was a Sunday evening on the Columbia University campus, and a group from the Bwog blog/publication/pseudo-sorority gathered around a table in the Lerner SGO. A few members shoved SkinnyPop into their mouths. One thanked another for walking her wasted ass home from The Heights the night before. And then there were a few talking about journalism.
They had written a piece on the problems with sorority culture, and another about a sexist video one sorority had shown to their new members. Except the Bwoggers weren’t recounting the humorous memes left in the comments section, or the trolls’ insults about their members on bored@butler. They were discussing “campus discourse” and the “importance of ethical journalism.”
When, at a Spectator information session, a white-shirt clad Spec editor tried to preach the importance of Real Journalism™ to a first-year looking for a writing outlet (“Who does that? I mean I know they’re more of a corporation than a newspaper but did they have to say the trademark out loud?” she asked), she knew she had to find another home. “What makes you think journalism has to restrict itself to traditional norms to be valid?” asked a Bwog member lurking nearby, waiting by the Spectator offices with bottles of water to hand out to over-worked, over-stressed, and under-paid work-study students. That’s when the first-year, an aspiring Real Journalist (no trademark necessary), knew she had found a new home.
Later, as the Bwoggers checked their phones and walked the first-year to a Bwog meeting, one person in the group couldn’t help himself. “Don’t you find it fucked up that nobody from my internship follows me on Instagram?” he said to his trusted comrades as they made the trip down College Walk. Immediately, his phone was bombarded with notifications–12 new followers, all Bwog, and they had scrolled back to like every single picture on his feed. “I think they felt empowered to take action because they knew I would have their backs in case any of their selfies ever flopped,” he recalled, seated on a sofa in Lerner 505.
During the meeting, members tweeted amusing quotes about DSpar and snapchatted pictures of matching Diet Coke bottles (probably filled with rum). But once the meeting finished and they spilled out of Lerner, the Bwoggers kept in touch over Slack, alerting each other to breaking news stories and offering revisions to articles already in process.
There was a time, not so long ago, when no self-respecting aspiring journalist would be caught dead at a Bwog meeting–unless they were spying on behalf of Spec, of course. “In my day? No way in hell!” said a Columbia sophomore who recently quit writing for Spectator. “Bwog represented to me (as a Real Journalist™) squirrels, drinking, and internal discord. Remember the Rules of Protest Town Hall Google doc?”
It is puzzling, then, to discover that even amid the continuous assertion that “Bwog was better last year but it sucks now,” the number of staff is at a record high.
This rise in involvement has left many people baffled. “Honestly, when she first brought it up, my reaction was ‘Didn’t you get tired of publicly bitching about things in high school?’” said the mother of a Bwog editor. Her friends were surprised too – ”You’re white, tall, and blonde,” they said. “Couldn’t you just join a sorority instead?”
At Bwog, words like “backdating,” “journalistic integrity”, and “not compromising quality of content for revenue” roll off the writers’ tongues. Titles like “Alma Bwogger” and “Assistant to the Editor and Chief” are created to look better on a resumé (and to meet Rae Sremmurd). They swap fake IDs and endorse each other on LinkedIn while sitting in a 1020 booth. They are also in the midst of a robust debate about Asya/@communistbabe‘s Twitter presence.
Events for members at Bwog–monthly camaraderie-building gatherings–take the form of drinking in someone’s dorm room and then eventually dragging themselves to a bar or yelling loudly in the back of Symposium while downing sangria. “We definitely have to defend ourselves as real journalists,” said a first-year, “but I almost feel like more of a journalist at Bwog than I did at Spec–and at least Bwog gives me alcohol.”
Bwog did, in fact, begin as a publication–a way for students to get into journalism without having to deal with the Spec corporate bureaucracy, and as a way to disseminate news quickly. It was later that Bwog devolved into posting pictures of squirrels and fighting with activists. If you’re an ambitious Ivy Leaguer, though, and you believe that the best way to fight the system is to tear it down from within, then maybe it’s no surprise that students interested in Real Journalism have taken an interest in Bwog.
“Part of the allure,” said a junior on Bwog, “is that there is less structure than Spec. If you want to write about something, you can write it. And if you think there should never be any damn gifs or old memes on the site, you can say that. Also, you hear about a lot of campus gossip.”
“All throughout my first meeting at Bwog, I was saying to anyone who would listen, ‘I’m going to get in this system and I’m going to turn it on its head,’” said a first year. “I think the world is working in a way where if we want to be competitive and turn the system on its head, we need to actively join and support the system. Post photos promoting the system. Give money to the system. You know, destroy the system by helping it grow.’”
Another member of Bwog said, “At least I’m not one of the losers who trolls our comment section. Better to be lame in a group than lame alone!”
Although the future of Bwog is unknown, members are optimistic about its progress. “It is an imperfect system for sure,” echoed a Columbia sophomore on staff. “But we’re working on it. Maybe if we can find members that are rich enough, we can use their connections to get in touch with serious publications and ask them to take broody high-contrast photos of us in front of our meeting space. Maybe then, people will finally start taking us seriously.”