Entries Tagged 'Education' ↓

Talking Twitter

I’m planning to speak about Twitter journalism during a lunch time webcast and Missouri School of Journalism brown bag session today. (If you are in Columbia, it’s in the forum on the second floor of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at noon) It should be a lot of fun. If you can’t attend, I’ve written up my notes right here. If you can attend, those are just notes. I’m going to show more examples and field questions from the audience. It may be a packed house. It may not. If you are interested in watching, feel free to visit the RJI website to see the streaming video.

I promise to post the video here as soon as I can get my hands on it. Have fun!

UPDATE – if you go to the RJI website, just click on the “RJI Live” link to the left. And if you want to join in on the Twitter conversation before, during and after the event, please use #tweettalk as the hashtag!

Introducing new ideas… without sounding crazy

I am one of the younger faculty members at the Missouri School of Journalism. I’m also a bit energetic.

Okay. I have a lot of energy.

So when I present the faculty with a new idea or a great concept… Some of them tune me out because they assume they won’t understand what the heck I’m talking about. I get excited about new ways journalists can share information. I get really excited when journalists are only a piece of the news gathering process. I get super excited when life is simplified with the help of technology.

So after enough professors and students asked… I’m putting together a presentation on how journalists can use Twitter next Monday. I’d love to hear the ways you use Twitter so my presentation isn’t JUST my ideas. There are so many different ways, it would be wonderful to get input from places beyond my world so I can prove that I’m not the only person who thinks Twitter is a helpful tool. So please leave comments here or on Twitter or even on my Facebook page if we’re friends. I would love links and stories about successes and failures when it came down to journalists using Twitter. Thanks!!

Talking about my work

As a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, I have the opportunity to focus on projects that I wouldn’t normally have as much focused time to get the job done. So it’s exciting to see many things starting to emerge here at the Missouri School of Journalism. I’m teaching 21 students this semester and I have them all working on fantastic projects. Some of them are working on the projects from my “fellow fellows” Jane Stevens and Matt Thompson. Some are working with me on a project I’m calling Money Commons. Some are putting together content to give to new journalism students when they get an iPod Touch with their computer package. Some are working on social networking for KOMU. I also have a group that’s trying to create a self-sustainable high school basketball series. All of these projects are in various levels of execution. What’s fun is watching how we’re all doing things a bit differently.

With my project, I’m starting to collect content from the partner newsrooms, KBIA, KOMU and the Columbia Missourian. I’m hoping to partner with other newsrooms in the area as we try to document and assist the mid-Missouri area during this recession. I’m hoping to add site-based content as well: a database of contacts who can help people in economic crisis, original content that is based on a web-first presentation and hopefully a number of easy ways for people to communicate with each other on the site. I’m currently playing around with Google’s Friend Connect tools. It’s a VERY young site and it doesn’t have everything it needs at this point. But it’s starting to roll. I’d love some thoughts on how to take this site and make it into an online hub of information. My goal is to help the community and help newsrooms collaborate. It has a better feeling than what happens when you visit Smart Decision ’08. But both projects have the same goal: bring multiple newsrooms together to better inform and collaborate with the community. That’s why I keep doing everything I’m doing. I want to help journalists remain relevant while helping my community. It’s a great feeling. I’m planning to talk to a group of students (and anyone else who wants to watch) during a Society of Professional Journalists presentation tonight. I hope to talk about this project and brain storm with the crowd about what could really happen on this little space on the web.

Emotions were let loose!

I attended the first day of the Carnegie-Knight Conference on the Future of Journalism today in Cambridge, MA. It’s hosted by the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, & Public Policy. It’s a culmination of a number of initiatives and conferences hosted by the organization. I wanted to share the discourse and thoughts presented during this event. I tweeted all four panels during the day. If you’d like to read all of the tweets (from the newest down to the oldest) click here to download the pdf. I figured I’d give a quick overview of the discussions for each panel.

1) Working Journalists and the Changing News Environment
Moderator: Rem Reider (American Journalism Review)
Carl Stepp (University of Maryland)
Tom Fiedler (Boston University/Harvard University)
Philip Meyer (UNC)
Jennifer McKim (Orange County Register – Neiman Fellow at Harvard)

This was an interesting start to the conference. There were a number of very different opinions on the state of the professional journalism industry. It started with Carl Stepp talking about his belief that managers need to give journalists more freedom to think and invent. He thinks it’s possible one person in a newsroom could change the entire industry.

Tom Fiedler countered and said the business model will have to come from someone on the outside. He thinks the temperament of journalists is to do what they love and that’s gathering news. They aren’t going to be the people who are inclined to worry about a business model. It doesn’t fit their role.

Jennifer McKim (who is a Neiman Fellow) talked about how there are many demoralized professionals in the industry… But they have the passion and talent and want this industry to work.

Philip Meyer has a lot to say after the first three folks. He had an idea that has a lot of buzz in the room: Find a business model that is supported by the elites. A multi-step flow of information would eventually get that information to the general public. CCJ‘s Mark Carter mentioned The Economist as a possible model. There were audience members questioning if that was a viable business model on a smaller readership/viewership level.

2) Communication Research and the Changing News Environment
Tom Patterson (Shorenstein Center, Harvard)
Robert Entman (George Washington University)
Scott Althaus (University of Illinois)
Vincent Price (University of Pennyslvania)

I’d hate to bury the lead on the next panel but the highlight happened near the end. I’ll just quickly summarize this portion of the conference. The group talked about how there’s a discord between scholarly journalistic research and the practice of journalism. My favorite quote from Robert Entman was his thoughts on the state of the journalistic industry: “changing course may be the less risky path.” He may be right.

Scott Althaus showed how just a little knowledge of the past can give a ton of context to how we cover the news of today. He showed combat video from WWI through Iraq and the varying degrees of reality journalists showed through video.

Vincent Price talked about the mainstream media in perspective of the political season. He looked at what is new, what hasn’t changed and the effects changes have on news. His overall message: the mainstream media (MSM) operations are now working in a much more complicated environment. The interactions between the MSM and all of the current information sources (supplementary campaign information, web, audiences) will continue to change the way information is transmitted. He commented on how entertainment can bring the audience to MSM but its up to us to turn that into a teachable moment.

But since the overall message from the group was to encourage practicing journalists to use scholarly research, the most interesting comment was made. Ira Chinoy from Maryland asked the opposite of the researchers. He asked the question over whether it was possible for there to be a problem with scholarly activity. Then he offered a couple of suggestions. First is to have the scholars write for a general audience. He also suggested scholars take the time to conduct confrontation interviews before releasing studies with a one-sided result. If not, give an opportunity for a pre-publication review by some kind of representative audience. There were all kinds of murmur about that. Entman retorted that the current scholarly community looks down upon researchers who publish for the general public.

3) Citizen Journalism
Clyde Bentley (University of Missouri)
Jan Schaffer (J-Lab)
Ryan Thornburg (University of North Carolina)
Steve Yelvington (Morris Communications, Founder of BlufftonToday.com)

Clyde Bentley talked about his work with MyMissourian.com and research on citizen journalism (CJ). He likened CJ to cave drawing from long ago. He also compared citizen journalists to members of the national guard: a citizen soldier doesn’t want a career in the military, he or she just wants to help. Bentley also talked about how Martin Luther could be credited with starting citizen journalism. He opened the idea to the general public to question priests. He showed other forms of current CJ and the differences between how traditional journalists cover information while citizen journalists share information.

Jan Schaffer had some great thoughts on this topic as well. She showed so many ideas and projects that the J-Lab has sponsored. She talked about the trends and how the journalism of the future is the “architecture of participation.” Ordinary people become the “plankton” in the “media ecosystem.” In some ways, journalists would have the job to sift through the plankton to come up with a functioning ecosystem. Another thought that I enjoyed is how this “isn’t about covering community, it’s about building community.” CJs or as Jan put it, citizen media-makers are looking to make a different in tangible ways. Her idea is deputizing a person who has the job to network all of the citizen media in the community. An editor would have the job to figure out what topics need “Big J” journalism for the larger audience. If there’s a pattern in citizen media conversations, it may be worth bringing it to a larger audience.

Ryan Thornburg gave some great perspective about how citizen media is playing a huge role in the political process. Citizen journalists’ impact on politics means more voices in the discourse of a political season. Social networks are offering a more efficient way to deliver those messages. Currently politicians are doing things already that he said newsrooms should take note:
*build an infrastructure for citizen participation
*give volunteers/CJs recognition for the participation
*allow volunteers to easily connect to each other
*have fun
Of course he reminded everyone that this requires “authentic leadership.”

Do you see a consistent trend in these conversations? There is great potential for professional journalists to guide and lead citizen journalists/media creators. I have a lot of hope in these ideals.

Steve Yelvington talked about how most reporters of today are young, underpaid and have no community connections. He feels today’s “broken journalism can be repaired by learning how to participation in unfolding conversations” of citizen media.

You could feel some of the skepticism in the audience. There were concerns over who is liable for libelous blogs. One person considered blogs as a bar conversation. Another wondered how can we ensure blogs remain a supplement to quality journalism.

4) Panel on Innovation in Journalism Education
Tom Fiedler (Boston University/Harvard University)
Wolfgang Donsbach (Technical University, Dresden, Germany)
Nick Lemann (Columbia Graduate School of Journalism)
Peter Shane (Ohio State Law School)

Fielder and Donsbach presented a paper they wrote with recommendations for the future of journalism education. It is still in the vetting process and if we guage the reaction of the audience to the research, there’s more work to be done before it’s published. I’m not going to get into too many details but I’ll mention a couple of things. There was a recommendation to throw out undergraduate journalism programs because it’s too trade-based and not liberal arts enough (Dean Mills of Missouri was pretty quick to counter that). Also, there was a recommendation to “outsource skills.” They thought journalism schools should teach theory and farm out the skills training elsewhere.

There was an unsteady rumble during the many, many PowerPoint pages of thoughts and assumptions. I happened to sit next to UNC’s Dean Jean Folkerts. She gave a very eloquent response to the presentation and the rest of the audience joined in agreement. (I actually asked if she would type out her words – it was written down on paper – and I’m hoping to link to her thoughts when she gets them online) After the room was pretty hot and bothered for about 20 minutes, the conversation continued into drink time and into dinner tine. Long day, lots of thoughts and a TON of emotion.

**Update – Jean Folkerts posted her thoughts from the experience. Take a look.

Heading out to talk about journalism

I’m attending the Carnegie-Knight Conference on the Future of Journalism this week. It’s a collaborative conference between a number of journalism programs (Berkeley, Maryland, Columbia, Austin, Arizona, Nebraska, Carolina, Northwestern, USC, Syracuse and folks where I work: Missouri). The focus: the future. (CORRECTION: Arizona State University is here!)

I’m planning to twitter live during the conference and hopefully blog about conversations on this blog. It would be great to have even more conversations spin off from this event. I’ve been to Boston before – but never Cambridge. I looked at BU and BC, but never Harvard or MIT. I look forward to a new experience and great discussions about our grand industry.

Huge clump of information

Aggregation. It’s a big focus of my life these days. I’m looking for easy ways to collect information and share it with the general public. At the same time, I’m trying to find ways to collect the websites and social networks I visit and aggregate it into one place. That’s why I’m curious to see how Google’s Friend Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpace’s dataportability may help play in this goal to link everything into one location on the Internet.

I look at this on two levels: How can it work for me and how can it work for my news website.

For me, I love social networking. I love chatting, learning and sharing. It’s kind of obvious from my previous posts. But I think it’s so cool to be able to share and see different perspectives from people I trust. It’s the same idea as having a get together with your friends – but I know I’m not alone when I say many of my friends live across the country. We move around a lot! Not to mention, my job has given me the chance to meet really cool and smart people in all kinds of locations. Social networking lets me stay in touch in ways that writing a letter and sending it in the mail can’t do. And in a slightly self-centered way, it gives me a chance to know what my friends are doing after years of them reading my family blogs and never leaving comments! They know all about me but I don’t know a thing about their most recent updates.

On the professional side of things, I want my news product used by my market! So that’s why I tried an aggregated website sharing the news from KOMU.com, the local NPR newsroom and a local newspaper as a test. We’re aggregating all of our election-themed news and sharing it into the SmartDecision08.com website. This is a way to create a one-stop information hub on the election season in Missouri, specifically mid-Missouri. I don’t have enough funding to make it function as well as I would like it to function, but it is deep. There is so much information and it’s delivered in a way that can really let a news and political information consumer learn a lot. I want to find ways to help collect information and give people the change to socially learn and share on this kind of level. Take news and make it personal. That’s been my goal for years. It’s so cool to see how today’s technology is reaching the concepts I thought about a long time ago.

I am trying out a new site called blippr.com – it gives you a way to socially share the things that entertain you: books, movies, music and games. It’s a level of social networking I haven’t really participated in before. Facebook has all kinds of options that include those items, but blippr seems to have a very clean, concise and non-gimmicky way to accomplish sharing entertainment reviews. It connects to facebook and twitter and friend feed so the idea is to use it as an aggregator of sorts to collect and share your likes and dislikes within the products you already use. I think that’s where everything is headed. I just wish I could wrap my head around how we can use these kinds of tools and still help inform online consumers the news they want and possibly need to know to participate in the non-computer based world where they live. I would have something really cool if I had money and programmers who would put up with my constant brain dumps!

A great week

I spent most of the past week taking part in the RTNDA and NAB conferences. It is always interesting to see where people think the journalism and broadcasting industry is going. There was a lot of talk about how the traditional journalist is his or her way out. Obviously I believe that – I struggle to try and incorporate my thoughts on information gathering to as many beginning journalists in our program. I really think a person who has the main goal of presenting something online with a side skill of presenting information on a more traditional media outlet has many, many opportunities. Three years ago, I had news directors begging for good newscast producers. This year I had news directors begging for good newscast producers AND also good website editors and multi-media creators. Last year I was depressed to see most of my amazing web-based students take traditional jobs because no one knew what to do with them. This year there are jobs and there are newsrooms that understand the kind of potential I am helping create.

It’s a very good feeling.

 The best moment was when I found out one of the students I had last year who couldn’t get hired is suddenly working on the web for one  of the best newsrooms in the country. The broadcast industry is catching on! Hooray!

Sharing, meeting and introducing

I have two goals every time I attend RTNDA and NAB in Las Vegas (which is where I am right now). First, my goal is to meet new and innovative people in the media industry. Second, to help my students find amazing jobs in newsrooms where they’re respected and won’t burn out before they look for their second job.Because I have so many more students, I brought a bunch of resumes to share even though they couldn’t make it to the big conference. This is the first time I’ve found a group of students who are really interested in possible work in the web side of the industry. It’s exciting and I’m proud to help them find jobs. I look forward to seeing what comes of this week. Hopefully news ideas to help with our newsroom’s workflow, new products to help make the job work better and new connections to help my students (and former grads) find great jobs. It should be a lot of fun at the same time.

Deep thoughts

I’m constantly swamped. It is so easy to do my job all the time that I actually tend to do my job all the time. I communicate with students over email, over instant message, over text message. I also can keep track of the komu.com site over my cellphone by visiting the site’s mobile site or just visiting the page from my phone’s web browser.

With all of this interaction, I still don’t feel like I’m teaching enough. Is that crazy? It’s because there is SO much to talk about and SO much to learn.

This past week I spent the week teaching small workshops on Flash with students. In most cases I worked with three people at a time. The best I can do is open their eyes to the basic functions of the software. If they want to know more, I encourage them to go to campus training sessions or visit places like lynda.com. A successful training session is opening their minds enough that they can “communicate in Flash.” That type of knowledge gives each person the ability to come up with an idea that would help online users learn about a topic. Then they can work with a Flash expert who would be able to understand the journalist’s instructions and ideas. Communicating in Flash means my journalists can envision good Flash journalism by working with an Action Script expert.

It’s hard to accept that I can’t teach everything that is worth teaching. I’m still learning to accept that.

I’m about to go on a trip to meet with some tech “players.” I hope to brain dump some of my ideas and see if they want to play with me. Ever since I started working with Apple on podcasting, I discovered how higher ed and the high tech corporate world can build some pretty fantastic relationships. Then I get to add in a professional newsroom environment where those products can be put to work in a real world setting where we think about profits. It’s a really exciting opportunity to offer. I haven’t been able to play with as many “toys” as I have hoped, but it’s fun to offer a professional and higher ed perspective at the same time. I hope I’ll come back with some cool projects in my future.

So much to catch up on

I am currently teaching more than double the number of students I’m used to teaching. It’s a challenge to make sure they get the same kind of attention that a smaller class would get from me. The reason I increased the size was twofold: 1) More broadcast journalism students should get the chance to think outside the box and share news and information in non-traditional ways and 2) I have two websites that need upkeep – my news website and the election website that I’ve been trying my damnedest to get up and running to the level it should be.

So far, I have some very committed students. They want to learn, they want to succeed and they’ve really picked up on the job pretty well. I also have a group of reports and editors who are a part of the journalism school’s convergence sequence. These reporters and editors are trained earlier in their journalism experience to think outside the box. They have helped put together some very nice, clean informational graphics.

A year ago I preached the need for video. People love video. I think that still holds true. The trick is, viewer-generated video has more demand than video from a newscast. At this point, a news website is expected to have its newscast content online. But now I am seeing other expectations. As a visual medium, broadcasters need to think of every possible way to tell the story. Flash-animated infographics are a part of that expectation.

I have not figured out an effective work flow that will help a broadcast newsroom produce in-house topical infographics. I haven’t even figured out effective work flow to keep my entire web staff communicating with each other. The graphic that you see here was worked on all evening by one person and when it was time to add it to the website, a number of people working on my news site had no idea of its existence. When my web staff doesn’t know about it, how the heck can it get properly teased on the air? I’ve found additional material that is placed online does not get as many eyes on it (or clicks) unless it is promoted on the air: Broadcast needs online and online needs broadcast.