Innovation in Journalism: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

I recently applied for a multimedia journalism teaching position at the University of Nevada-Reno’s Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism. The search committee asked applicants to write 300 words on the topic, “What Innovation in Journalism Means to You.”

This is my submission, edited only slightly because here I’m not trying to make it exactly 300 words:

To me, innovation in journalism means creating a multimedia experience as engaging as Angry Birds, but much more informative.

Innovation in journalism means taking a single camera on assignment and returning with a story publishable as stills, video and/or audio. It means making these resources easily available to a worldwide audience on a staggering variety of devices, depending on the audience’s preference. It means delivering this story on deadline in short-form (less than 4 minutes, ideally right at 30 seconds) and later making it available for collaborative re-editing as a long-form documentary (27 minutes or so). That’s what we did with this recent project documenting the faces of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals:

Millenium Development Goals Documentary

Innovation in journalism means creating web sites that are search engine optimized. It means logging metadata and redundantly backing up files so they can be retrieved decades later on devices yet to be imagined. It means religiously following rigorous digital asset management strategies like those outlined by Peter Krogh in this book:

http://www.damuseful.com/

Innovation in journalism means using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, EveryBlock.com, Google Alerts and Yelp! for research when stories are in pre-production and for promotion and audience metrics when the stories are published. It means developing new social media tools that will still be relevant once all media becomes social.

Innovation in journalism means collaborating across cultural and language barriers to tell stories, as we did with this series of stories about the Roma people in Central Europe:

Roma Stories

It means finding ways to bridge the digital divide and turning subjects into participants, as I am doing with my ongoing hyperlocal visual journalism project in Miami’s Overtown community:

Innovation in journalism means going back to school for a master’s degree after working as a photographer for 25 years if that’s what it takes to remain an effective storyteller, as I did in August 2009.

Innovation in journalism means being a teacher, a leader and an advocate for enterprising young people like these, and then getting the hell out of their way.

What does innovation in journalism mean to you? How are you expressing those ideas? Post a comment and/or link below and let’s see what we can come up with.

2 Responses to “Innovation in Journalism: Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”

  1. Ralph Starling February 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I like the way you think!

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  1. What facebook mean to Journalists! « xiyuecao - May 2, 2011

    [...] leads to the innovation of journalism The multimedia journalism teacher of the University of Nevada-Reno’s Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism describes the innovation of journalism as “Angry Bird”! [...]

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