There isn’t exactly one single academic degree that covers all of my interests. However, this semester I am lucky to be taking four classes which together combine my interests in journalism, business, technology and entrepreneurship. Last week I had my first Marketing, Convergence Reporting and Emerging Media classes, and on Monday I have my first Principles of Entrepreneurship class.
One of the classes I am most excited about is my Emerging Media class which is an honors tutorial course. Each semester Mizzou’s honors college offers several honors tutorials that are meant to be focused on discussion with a very small group. The course is taught by Lynda Kraxberger, the dean of the journalism school, and has a total of three students. We will meet twice weekly to discuss new technology trends, app and products and their potential impact on journalism. Our group will also likely adapt our research into video blogs throughout the semester. This class has already made me love the journalism school a thousand times over! This week our group covered a lot in our two sessions:
Webbmedia Group is not a piece of technology in and of itself, but rather a digital strategy company which works to help clients engage audiences using emerging media. The organization’s founder Amy Webb also publishes a yearly trend report for free. Our class read the 2014 trend report as a starting point for our discussion. Not every trend is directly applicable to journalism, but many of the trends suggest new ways publications may try to reach audiences. I was particularly interested in how the native ad trend may influence traditional marketing and how expanding definitions of publishers and platforms may blur the line between content created by readers and reporters.
While perusing articles on Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab website, I came across a tool called Kinja. Kinja is a discussion platform owned by Gawker which is currently being used on Gawker sites. Kinja was designed to facilitate more valuable comment streams on websites. So often comments get tacked onto a story in a clunky, distinction-less string. Many comments are from trolls or bots, and any valuable comments are difficult to pick out. Gawker founder Nick Denton has been quoted in several articles about the importance of making commenters valuable again. When readers visit a Gawker site like Gizmodo, for example, they are prompted to sign up for a Kinja account. From there they can create their own comment stream which they then monitor themselves. They can delete any comments which reply to their comment. This system groups voices around conversation points about an article, making it easier to navigate discussion points. Kinja has also rolled out an even more unique feature in which users can rewrite the headline and first paragraph of a story and share this version with friends on social media. Kinja also has a space which features the most popular revamped article headlines. The possibilities of this tool excited me and our class. If Kinja expanded to other news sites, authors could easily find additional valuable information from experts and voices in the comment stream. Users have an incentive to share valuable information as well knowing that information has potential social sharing power. Our class decided to further explore Kinja in class next week.
Prss and Jelly
In addition to Kinja, my two classmates shared their thoughts on Prss and Jelly. Prss is a publishing tool helps publishers create and design magazines made exclusively for an iPad. The tool provides a number of templates for users. There are many low-budget publishing opportunities with the tool. Jelly is an app from a couple of Twitter’s founders. The app allows friends connected on social media to ask and answer questions among each other. This conversation tool also has potential to connect newsrooms to audiences.
These tools are just the beginning of any number of topics our class will discuss this semester. As I learn about these new technologies, I hope to embrace as many new tools as I can, share them on my blog and implement them in my reporting with the hope that I can be a voice in ushering journalism into an age of new media.