Day one of Journalism Interactive is wrapping up at the University of Maryland, concluding a full day of presentations on topics ranging from emerging tech trends to teaching strategies. This day was packed with new ideas and interesting discussions. Check out some takeaways from a few of the sessions today:
9:15 a.m. “The Future of Visual Storytelling”
Journalism Interactive kicked off this morning with this presentation about digital and visual storytelling from Richard Koci Hernandez, journalism professor at UC Berkley. Hernandez told the audience he would share 15 semesters worth of information about visual storytelling, and he certainly promised on his goal of providing a wealth of information. I particularly enjoyed how this talk praised risk taking in journalism. Hernandez encouraged experimentation and original thinking.
- The Internet is not a dumping ground for media created for other platforms
- Web is its own platform
- Visual journalism does not exist on a single canvas
- Creative approach is more important than skill and technique
“I’m not making you a designer, I’m making you a design thinker.”
“The edge, the secret sauce to mastery is not waiting for perfection, instead, start where you are with reckless abandon.”
“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”
Tools to try:
- Timeline JS – interactive timeline tool
- visual.ly – Visual content sharing space
- X WordPress Theme – User friendly, interactive WordPress theme that minimizes required code knowledge
10:30 a.m. “Top Tech Trends for Academics”
Following the opening session, digital strategist Amy Webb gave a fantastic presentation about tech trends. I have read a number of her predictions about tech trends through classes and on my own, so I was particularly excited for her talk. Webb challenged the audience to embrace emerging tech trends in order to better engage an audience. Webb’s talk was by far my favorite presentation given today.
Key tech trends:
1) Tech first versus digital first – Essentially, all journalism organizations should already be digital first, and to be truly innovative, organizations must embrace new technology. Being digital first alone doesn’t acknowledge consumer behavior, competitors and new revenue streams, for example.
2) Anticipatory computing – New search tools will analyze previous search conversation and context in order to predict and deliver calculated search results to an audience.
3) Robo journalism – “Bots” can be utilized to generate basic news stories to save reporters writing time for in-depth pieces, and computer assisted editing can analyze long news stories and generate summarized versions of the most important information.
4) Computational reporting – Tools such as WolframAlpha can be utilized to provide more complete, data-driven search results that can aid reporting.
5) Aggressive versioning – Content should be delivered based on situation and individual, instead of just device. For instance, tools can deliver different versions of the same story according to how fast a person is walking with their device (which indicates how much they want to read of a story).
6) Experiential journalism – Simulation devices can be used to actually place a reader in a story like never before.
Recommendations to journalism professors:
1) Open source journalism – Students and faculty would both benefit from better communication between schools and more open source projects.
2) Show students more options – Faculty should better acknowledge non-traditional media outlets, and prepare and inform students of job opportunities in those companies.
3) Market yourselves better – Journalism schools must embrace technology fully and not just create “trendy” classes in order to attract highly intelligent students with an interest in tech.
“Smart kids want tech degrees because j-schools don’t make journalism sound interesting.”
“It makes no sense to fail a student for one AP Style error. Make them worry about something else.”
3 p.m. “News Startups and Innovators Panel”
The afternoon session of day one of the conference, allowed participants to choose their own adventure. This startup panel peaked my interest with its combination of journalists and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial journalism is an area I want to learn as much about as possible, and this panel offered a variety of interesting perspectives. The panel featured speakers from Trove, Newspeg and InfoActive, all startups.
- News startups are easy to start because they are cheap and business advice is easily acceptable. However, news startups are hard to sustain because finding an audience and making money is difficult.
- Entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, but all journalists can benefit from the relentless testing, thoughtful decision making and business knowledge entrepreneurs have.
Tools to try:
- Trove – Compiles news stories based around interest of reader and recommended by users
- Newspeg – Acts as a sort of Pinterest for news stories, allowing stories to be “pegged” to site
- InfoActive – Creates interactive infographics for complex and ongoing data sets
These takeaways highlight just a few of the new ideas I learned about today. I also attended sessions on social metrics, digital teaching strategies and algorithms. So many ideas and conversations happened today!
To follow more of the conversation, check out the conference on Twitter @JIConf and #JIConf.