Month: February 2014

Intersections that matter: an introduction to my Convergence Reporting blog

Up until this point, there have not been any journalism majors at the University of Missouri to “officially” graduate with an entrepreneurship minor. This is not to say that absolutely no journalism majors have pursued the minor, but rather that the journalism school has never worked specifically with students to help them earn the minor. The college of business has an official guide sheet advising their students on acceptable courses for the minor, for example, but the journalism school, until recently, had no such sheet.

Last fall my advisor suggested I talk to Associate Dean Lynda Kraxberger about my interest in the minor. Now a few months later, the journalism school is close to approving a guide sheet which would make it much easier for journalism students to earn the minor in less credit hours.

I am excited for the guide sheet, but I am even more excited for the coming intersection of entrepreneurship and journalism at Mizzou.

Intersections are important. They represent collaboration and creativity, and most importantly they spark innovation. Economist Joseph Schumpeter, who was also famous for his theories on entrepreneurship, touches on the importance of distinguishing innovation from what already exists.

“Our assumption is that he who makes new combinations is an entrepreneur.” -Joseph Schumpeter

For journalists in particular, it is increasingly important to be an “entrepreneur” of storytelling opportunities. To see the world and its people in new combinations in order to provide the accurate story, to question the status quo and to foster an audience.

In the coming weeks I will continue to blog about any topic that interests me, but I will primarily be exploring the intersection of entrepreneurship, technology and journalism for my Convergence Reporting class. In my coursework as well, I am exploring these topics through my Convergence Reporting, Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Media class.

Through this exploration, I hope to gain a better understanding of audience engagement, cross disciplinary collaboration, new media, journalism business models and multimedia.

I hope that this examination will illuminate me to new combinations in journalism. This semester I am exploring my inner entrepreneur, and I invite you to do the same.

Vlog review: Huffington Post Live

I lived without a TV for a year and a half in college. I only just recently bought a TV, mostly at my parents’ insistence. Video blogs on YouTube (also Netflix and Hulu), particularly make TVs seem like a non-essential item, especially for people of my generation.

This week in my emerging media class, we are exploring different styles of video blogs with the hope of making our own vlogs about media trends in the weeks to come. I started watching vlogs more regularly when I came to Mizzou and heard more and more about the Columbia-based video aggregation website Newsy. 

I decided to explore other news-esque type blogs this week to see how they might compare to a site like Newsy which has found great success through its video news techniques. Huffington Post Live is a good example of a site that is engaging its audience through vlogging. Each of HuffPost Live’s videos  feature a reporter sitting in what looks like a newsroom, summarizing a news event or presenting previous reporting in the video.

HuffPost Live on YouTube is the main platform for the videos being produced. Viewers can digest a short bit of news present in a more casual way than a formal newscast. While Newsy integrates information from multiple sources, and puts it into one video, Huffington Post does original reporting, but in a similar casual style. The background of a busy newsroom seems to be popular in news vlogs.

For the typical millennial, the setting gives the videos a credible feel without the commitment of watching a half hour long newscast. The audience for these style of videos is definitely regular news consumers in their 20s and 30s. While this style is highly engaging for a younger generation, I doubt the Huffington Post has nearly as many middle-aged viewers.

Overall, I think this style of vlog targets a specific audience well. In my own vlog, I would like to include casual reporter narration paired with other sources and videos possibly.

Digital tool review: Meograph

Meograph

 

As online readers become more exposed to marketing techniques on the Internet, it has become increasingly important for websites to engage audiences in new ways. For my Emerging Media class this week, I spent some time experimenting with a “multimedia storytelling” tool called Meograph that was designed to engage readers online. The tool allows any user to easily create multimedia pieces. Many sites including NBA and PBS have even used the tool to drive competitions based around content readers create using the tool. Readers can combine their own video, photos and audio or pull elements from online to create short multimedia response pieces that react to competitions or stories.

I personally used Meograph to create an audio slideshow. For my Convergence Reporting class I used a tool called Soundslides to put together photos and audio I took of a local store called Valhalla’s Gate. I have used Soundslides before, and I don’t mind the program. The interface is ideal for creating audio slideshows. It easily allows the user to drag, drop and time out photos and audio. However, the free version of the Soundslides program doesn’t provide you with any sort of publishable link to your work. I spent quite a bit of time on the project, and I wanted to be able to share my photos and audio, so I decided to try Meograph. Here are a few of my thoughts on the tool:

Meograph pros:

  • Social media ease- Meograph allows any finished product to be easily shared on almost any social network. This is especially nice for a journalist looking to share a simple project (in my case). The tool also seems to be mobile friendly which is always a plus.
  • Live chat help- I used the “need help” function on Meograph’s site twice while making the project. I was surprised to find that the help came in the form of a real life person and not an FAQ menu. I later realized that the CEO of Meograph was actually the person chatting with me. The chat feature was extremely convenient and made the tool feel more personal.
  • Potential for audience engagement- As I said earlier, I only used Meograph for a simple project. However, a number of websites have used the tool as a way to invite readers to create multimedia pieces. Instead of posting comments or even photos, users can use Meograph to engage with a website. The tool invites an audience to engage in new ways.

Meograph cons:

  • Small glitches: Through out my project I experienced several small issues that Meograph may still be working to resolve. I first found that my photos were displaying in the tool for longer than I wanted even though I set the display time for the photos myself. After chatting on the help tool, I learned that photos are automatically set to display for three seconds, but this information was not made clear. I also noticed that viewing the project during editing at any point other than the beginning often caused the playback to jump over photos. Finally, I was a bit disappointed with the fluidity of the program. It was a bit challenging to drag my photos and audio exactly where I wanted. The program took me a bit of extra time overall to drag around everything where I wanted it. The final project also felt a bit jumpy between photo transitions.
  • Embed code issue- This may be an issue exclusively related to a small group of users, but my free WordPress blog does not allow me to use the iFrame embed code that Meograph generates.
  • Lack of instruction- Given that this tool was designed primarily for users new to multimedia, I think it would be helpful if the tool had either a more detailed written manual or video instructions explaining how to use the tool in more depth. I struggled a few times through the creation process, and had to use the chat function for help. If the tool has a chance of further expanding to a broader audience, it will need to be made either slightly more intuitive or it will need to provide more in-depth instructions.