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DSU students create Madison travel guide

March 28, 2018

True to the Madison, S.D. slogan, six Dakota State University students discovered the unexpected in Madison.

“I learned to love living in Madison,” said DSU student Paige Metzinger, after she and five fellow English for new media majors feature created what they call “36 Hours in Madison.” She is a senior from Northville, S.D.

The six students in Dr. John Nelson’s Publishing for New Media class created the online-only article, based on a similar series in the New York Times, said Jesse Woodward, a senior from Wahpeton, N.D.

“This will give travelers a guide of things they can do to fill a weekend in Madison,” Woodward said.

Nelson has suggested this project idea to classes in other years, but those students jumped to the conclusion that there is nothing to do in Madison; this year, the class was willing to tackle the project.

“The biggest challenge,” Woodward said, “was overcoming the mindset of ‘What’s there to do in a small Midwestern town?’” He and his classmates discovered “there is a lot of fun stuff you can do here, and you can have a great time.”

Liz Klett, from Danville, Illinois, agreed. “There were more things in Madison than I expected.”

The students did their research, visiting locations in and around Madison, attractions like Prairie Village and Lake Herman State Park, and various restaurants and retail establishments, said Nelofar Sultan, a junior from Pakistan.

Each took the time to personally visit several places. Garrett Mullins, a senior from Cleveland, Ohio, said “we wanted to get a personable feel, and the best way to do that was by going to those establishments.”

The students discovered the hidden character of Madison’s establishments through these visits, features like the hot pink bowling ball at Cherry Lanes, or things the little eateries do to set themselves apart, Woodward said.

To enhance the readers’ experience, “we learned to be as descriptive and specific as possible about the things that make these places unique,” said Sultan. Mochavino’s décor was described in the article with this suggestion: “Take a seat in one of the vintage, mismatched chairs at a glass-topped shadow table with everything from sewing notions to Trivial Pursuit cards inside.”

Mitchell Galloway, an English for new media junior from Jacksonville, Florida, stated that “This would have been great when my family visited last fall over Homecoming.”

Besides being helpful to visitors, the project will demonstrate to potential employers that the students have experience with new media skills, such as the detailed writing style, constructive editing skills, and photography experience. Collaboration was another skill, said Sultan. Each student working on their portions, but one student editing the article to give it “one voice,” she explained.

“Publishing online is different than publishing for print,” Woodward stated. “This experience was valuable to everyone that’s in the course.”

The project is hosted on the college’s online newspaper website, The Trojan Times (trojan-times.com/36-hours-in-madison/) and includes text descriptions, photos, and a map that is customized and color-coordinated by type of business.