Illustration by Megan Knapp

Going Beyond the Bubble


Why ‘The Post’ decided to explore what is around city of Athens

The Post Editorial Board / For The Post

As students in a small yet lively college town, we sometimes forget what is around us. It is hard to imagine a world beyond Gran Ranchero, the Hocking River and McHappy’s. But the reality is that the communities and counties surrounding Athens are overflowing with untold stories and experiences of which the majority of students are unaware.

Don’t get us wrong, we love Ohio University and Uptown Athens. But we wanted to take the opportunity to try to understand more about the area that we call home. As many of us at The Post will soon be graduating and leaving in just a month, we thought now would be one of our last chances to delve into what has been all around us during our college experience. For those of us who aren’t graduating, this special edition presented an opportunity to find new favorite places or things to add to our bucket lists.

Some stories have already been told about Appalachian Ohio and southeast Ohio. But oftentimes, parachute reporting describes accounts of poverty and isolation. Reporters with little knowledge of the area drop into the region with an agenda to label it a certain way. We hoped to challenge this dialogue to celebrate the region instead.

In the past few weeks, reporters and photographers have traveled anywhere between 10 and 50 miles to places like McConnelsville, Chillicothe and Marietta to explore the Appalachian Ohio region and the interesting people, businesses and histories that make the areas unique.

Many students at OU, have no way to experience what is outside of the City of Athens, as the majority of underclassmen do not have cars on campus and public transportation only takes you so far. Sometimes, it is physically impossible to explore the corners of Southeast Ohio, and we understand. With the stories featured within these pages, we hope to relay what we have discovered to those who are not able to travel to those areas themselves.

In this issue, you’ll find a story about an opera house with a purportedly haunted past. You’ll be transported to a family-owned smokehouse with homemade barbecue. You’ll also explore New Straitsville, a coal town that is finding new ways to adapt to the demands of the 21st century, and learn about the news deserts that exist beyond the city of Athens. You’ll read about the small-town community radio stations that have filled the airwaves and hills with rich music through the decades.

We realize, however, that we are just skimming the surface of the areas around us. Southeast Ohio’s counties span more than 500 square miles, each county with dozens of features that make each one unique. With this issue, we do not aim to paint a full picture of the region, but instead hope to tell specific stories and explore some of what Appalachian Ohio has to offer.

We know that coverage of the surrounding communities can’t be restricted to just one issue. There are countless stories out there still waiting to be told and issues that deserve our attention and our reporting. We hope that in the future, we’ll be able to allocate additional resources and manpower to covering those stories.

Hopefully, at the end of the day, you’ll learn just as we have some of what Appalachia has to offer. And perhaps it will make you want to explore more beyond the bubble.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Lauren Fisher, Managing Editor Maddie Capron, Digital Managing Editor Alex McCann, Assistant Managing Editor Jessica Hill and Creative Director Abby Gordon. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

Development by: Ryan Vallette / For The Post

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Special Projects

This story is part of a series of specially designed stories that represents some of the best journalism The Post has to offer. Check out the rest of the special projects here.