The age of blogging, gossip, and Internet activism has taken online reporting to a whole new level, and Bowdoin's Curia is stepping up to the challenge.

Launched in January 2008 by William Donahoe '08, Bowdoin's online blog Curia ( is accessible only from computers on campus. According to its "About" section, Curia aims to provide a space on campus "for organized cultural critique." With content ranging from timely reporting of news on campus to lighter features pieces, the Web site also allows viewers to comment on stories, either under a registered user name or anonymously.

Donahoe was a first year at Bowdoin the fall that the Facebook craze swept through college campuses across the country. He recognized that Bowdoin students were eager to connect online. Taking into account the "Bowdoin Bubble" phenomenon that leaves students feeling isolated, he wondered if students would engage with a Bowdoin-localized Web site.

In January 2007, Donahoe launched Overheard at Bowdoin (, a Web site where students can anonymously submit humorous conversations they overhear on campus.

Donahoe said that the success of Overheard at Bowdoin answered his question, "Will Bowdoin students ever congregate at one Web site, and interact with one another about something humorous?"

"Curia was the next step," he said. "Will they interact with actual news?"

According to Donahoe, the name of the Web site was inspired by the ancient Roman word curia, which describes a meeting place for tribes or senate leaders coming together to discuss their affairs. The Curia Web site serves an analogous purpose for Bowdoin students.

The premiere Curia post, "Why Bowdoin needs Curia," made by Donahoe on Jan. 29 2008, noted a trend of passivity among the student body in relation to campus affairs that was moving away from the school's progressiveness.

"We were one hell of a school back in the day. Less than 20 years ago grades weren't letters here," Donahoe wrote. "When Barry [Mills] was a student, he got plus or minus for his courses and there was no GPA. The first female president of a fraternity reigned over Quinby. Once, Bowdoin was absolutely revolutionary and a hotbed of cultural change."

As Donahoe graduated in the spring, Curia is now under the guidance of two editors-in-chief, Darren Fishell '09 and Hannah Scheidt '10, who were both involved with its inception.

Fishell called Donahoe "the architect" of Curia, while he and Sheidt are now "the keepers of the flame."

Scheidt and Fishell said the Web site also depends on the contributions of 10 staff members from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, many of whom contributed through posts and comments last year before expressing interest in being more involved with the Web site this year.

This year the Curia staff has worked to increase traffic on Curia by making digest posts that link to either articles on the site or Curia-exclusive coupons to Brunswick restaurants and coffee shops popular among Bowdoin students. Additionally, Scheidt and Fishell said that word-of-mouth advertising is especially valuable.

"Like any real, authentic, kind of fringe organization, [Curia] sort of spread through the word, the capital Word," Scheidt said. "I think the momentum has to be organic for something like this."

The increasing awareness of the Web site on campus is evident from the recent commenting explosion that occurred in response to "Social Activism on a Saturday Night?" The post was a reflection on the "Mansion"-themed party at Ladd House on October 5 and the protest in opposition to it. The piece, written by Sean Campos '11, provoked a heated string of commenting, totaling 48 posts.

Fishell cited a "collision of timeliness, original reporting, and a higher awareness of Curia itself" as the key factors in what made the debate about the Ladd House party a lively discussion.

"There were definitely two sides [to the mansion piece], Scheidt added. "There was a challenge and a defense, and I think that both parties got involved which made it a productive discussion."

"I think it's important to realize that [Curia is] not limited by deadlines or space," Fishell said.

Speaking to what sets Curia apart from other student media on campus, he added, "Since there's no publication date we're reaching for, timeliness isn't relative to any date of publication, timeliness is only relevant to true timeliness. We're truly timely."

In addition to the news pieces, Curia publishes a range of items, from reviews of restaurants and other establishments in downtown Brunswick to live blogs of events on campus like the '80s party at Quinby House and the recent Broken Social Scene concert.

It also conducts polls that have fielded questions both serious and fun, including "Where have you registered to vote?" as well as "What is your favorite muffin Bowdoin dining makes?"

Fishell said that they have amassed a "steady group" of contributors that he and Scheidt meet with regularly to discuss story ideas for Curia.

Donahoe said that he is planning on redesigning the Web site over Winter Break with Fishell and Scheidt and that the campus can expect to see a "new look" to Curia when they arrive back on campus in January.

Scheidt said, "I think every part of the Bowdoin community wants to see students more engaged, wants to see what natural dialogue among students looks like. I think that having Curia as something anyone can read and comment on?but provided with [it] being within the safety of the Bowdoin campus, because it is a closed Web site?opens possibilities for that kind of discussion."

"Voyeurism is easy, we've got a lot of silent watchers. It's walking out onto that limb that I think makes people look down, turn around," Scheidt added.

This article was corrected on November 16,2008.