In writing parlance they’re known as “fillers”: those little pieces that show up at the end of magazine articles. Some writers bristle at the term, reasoning that “fillers” sound like bits of nothing, like packing peanuts or bubble wrap.
Fillers do perform one service of filling what otherwise would be blank space around an article. However, fillers themselves serve as mini-articles. They pack valuable information into a small space.
The Voice has featured a variety of long-running filler pieces, such as Click of the Wrist, International News Desk, and Did You Know? Some of these fillers are compiled by the editor and others by freelance contributors to The Voice.
I’ve been contributing regular fillers for several years. Student Sizzle began in 2014. AU-thentic Events and Scholarship of the Week both began in 2016. And Vintage Voice has run occasionally since late 2017. Despite their small size relative to full-length articles, they often represent disproportionately more effort. Here’s a look at what goes into bringing these fillers to readers of The Voice.
AU-thentic Events. This events series was borne out of my own frustration as an AU student and as a writer for The Voice. While hunting around for topics to cover for The Voice, I observed there were a number of events that students could attend online or in-person. However, notices for these events were posted in varied places. Each department or AU-related entity maintains their own events listing, which means students would have to seek them out individually. Frustrated that there was no consolidated AU-related events listing, I decided to create one for The Voice. Each week, I comb through all the events posted on various webpages and social media feeds and organize them into a chronological list for the following week. There is seldom a week in which no events are scheduled, and some weeks there are so many the list approaches article length. Some AU departments now contact The Voice to alert us to new or last-minute events. When I take holidays, the editor has to cover for me so that students don’t miss out learning about any events.
Scholarship of the Week. While hunting online for scholarships for myself, I realized that while there are many organizations that offer scholarships they don’t always show up on routine web searches or in scholarship directories. Databases of scholarships from university, government, or private sources tended to list only a limited selection of available scholarships. My husband suggested a few organizations that he knew offered scholarships, yet these scholarships didn’t consistently show up on online searches or scholarship lists. I came across so many scholarships I felt I could easily highlight one every week in a filler for The Voice.
From the beginning, I made an effort to highlight scholarships that had the fewest limits on eligibility. Ideally, I sought scholarships that any AU undergrad student could qualify for regardless of part-time/full-time, program, geographic, age, or gender considerations. This proved to be difficult and consequently some scholarship pieces feature scholarships with one or more restrictions. I made it a personal policy not to highlight scholarships based on religious dogma, or for organizations that promote plagiarism (such as essay mills.) Compiling and maintaining a list of upcoming scholarships proved to be time consuming but necessary if I wanted to keep organized. Anytime I come across a suitable scholarship, I add it to my list in order of application deadline. Recently, several organizations have contacted The Voice, asking for the scholarships they sponsor to be featured in Scholarship of the Week!
Student Sizzle. The credit for conceiving a regular social media feature goes to The Voice‘s editor, who was seeking contributors for several filler concepts. I volunteered to compile a selection of social media posts each week, since I was checking those sites anyway. Each week I select a sampling of posts from Facebook and Twitter for Student Sizzle that I think students will find interesting. I also highlight AU-related material on Youtube and Reddit to alert students to posts on these less-used platforms.
Vintage Voice. Combing through old issues of The Voice—some of which were originally published on paper—I realized there are a wealth of well-written articles with timeless value. A couple times a month I search through old articles and select a pair that have current relevance. Often searching for one theme leads me to a different one entirely. I end up reading dozens of articles before narrowing the selection down to two. As with the scholarship pieces, I maintain a list of potential future themes, along with links of great articles I’ve come across that are just waiting for their turn in the Vintage Voice.
Writing for The Voice isn’t just about finding the words. It’s often about seeking out information that’s useful to students and organizing that info into a suitable format. Filling up the corners of The Voice leads me to information I can use and helps me pack the fillers with good stuff for AU students.