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Digital Storytelling Track

Posted by Seth Putnam on September 14, 2008

We are storytellers, plain and simple. But one of the major hurdles facing journalism today is that the advent of the Internet has made everyone else storytellers, too.

With the explosion of user-generated content, everyone has the capacity to be a gatekeeper, and that has left those attempting to make storytelling their living–their art, their craft–wondering how to respond. And responding they are. Friday morning, in the Fred Smith Forum of the Reynolds Journalism Institute, several speakers presented on projects that they have spearheaded to address journalism’s approach to storytelling in the digital age.

Roger Fidler and the “Digital Newsbook Project:”

Fidler spoke about “introducing a new way to deliver, access and read in-depth special reports.” These will come in the form of electronic books and be available for sale and download onto electronic readers like the Amazon Kindle. Unlike the breaking news and developing updates commonly found on the Web, these newsbooks will fill the of longer form enterprise stories and allow the consumer to delve more deeply into an issue that interests or affects him or her.

Predecessors of the newspaper, newsbooks are actually a throwback to the 15th and 16th centuries when those in power would publish and distribute information they considered newsworthy (for instance, reasons for going to war.)

“We’re going way back and taking it forward and making it digital,” Fidler said.

Since 2007, 16 of these “eBooks” have been published and are currently on sale for $4.95 a pop.

Matt Thompson and “Epic 2014: Progress Report:”

In 2004, Thompson and Robin Sloan, formerly of the Poynter Institute, created an eight-minute movie (Epic 2014) that attempted to describe our mdia consumption habits. It focused on three things: cheap and easy distribution, cheap and easy production, and a proliferation of mobile consumption.

Now, four years later, Thompson is attempting to further explore what he considers to be the most important word in journalism: context.

With regard to content produced on the Internet, the focus has mainly been to break news and update developing stories. Consequently, a lot of pertinent content has the potential to get lost in the shuffle (case in point: this blog). With that in mind, Thompson will spend the next nine months as an RJI Fellow creating and encylopedic webiste that hosts a database of related stories so that relevant background information is available and doesn’t only last the three to four minutes users stay on the home page.

Brian Storm, founder of MediaStorm:

Perhaps the most exciting–and well attended–presentation was Storm’s talk on his company, MediaStorm. MediaStorm is a multimedia Internet-based publication that offers in-depth profile stories that employ photo, video and audio tools to shed light on basic human struggles: coping with death, coping with war, maintaining friendships, caring for sick loved ones, navigating new marriage and more.

The paramount idea that Storm tried to get across to his audience was that a committment to storytelling should always trump the medium through which the stories are told.

“It’s not about the delivery mechanism,” Storm said. “It’s about journalism and transmitting the stories. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to tell stories.”

To put it into perspective, Storm speculated on what it must have been like to be the owner of a horse and buggy business when the first automobiles came on the market. Storm said that, instead of batting a cynical eye, the business owner should have been quick to embrace the new development because of a key fact: He isn’t just in the buggy business; he’s in the transportation business.

So it is for journalists. We aren’t in the still camera business, or the radio business, or the newspaper business; we’re in the business of telling stories.


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An Emotional Ending to an Exciting Event

Posted by Bill Prosecky on September 14, 2008

The closing ceremonies of the past week’s Centennial celebration were nothing short of another knockout for the Journalism school. Dean Mills of the Journalism school was the first speaker of the night. Mills, like much of the audience, seemed to still be in awe of the grandeur and excitement that had taken place over the previous three days. He expressed his sincere thanks not only to the students of the J-school and the alumni who had returned, but also to Suzette Heiman and Ashlee Erwin, the two ladies, who, as Mills stated, were the real people behind this entire celebration.

Following his speech, Mills introduced the first segment of the evening, a video presentation of “Telling the Story, Fair and True”, with musical accompaniment provided by the MU Department of Music. The video featured famous historic images of the past one hundred years, including those of President Truman holding up the newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman”, of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech, of an airplane in flight about to crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and, in perhaps one of the most striking images of the entire ceremony, split-screen images of soldiers lifting the flag at Iwo Jima and of firefighters lifting the flag at Ground Zero on 9/11. Dean Mills summed up the presentation by calling it an “extraordinary convergence piece.”

The second presentation of the night was a reading by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko of a poem that he commissioned specifically for this occasion, entitled “The Lead Honorarium”. Yevtushenko not only read the poem, he performed it, displaying moods of anger, sadness, and disbelief, as he conveyed the stories of several Russian journalists who had been murdered, many of whom were close friends of Yevtushenko. His performance was nothing short of powerful, as his voice boomed throughout the arena and into the hearts of the audience members. Dean Mills, afterward, stated that maybe if poetry was performed that way in America, then maybe we would all be a little more interested in poetry in this country.

The final presentation of the night was an encore showing of a video entitled “Coming Home Again”, which had also been shown during the opening ceremonies on Wednesday night. The video showed images and videos of the MU campus and of famous MU alumni. Dean Mills wrapped up the presentation with a tongue-in-cheek comment that he wishes to see us all back here in the next 100 years.

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Our Centennial Experience

Posted by alexandragoff on September 14, 2008

Text by Brandon Schatsiek. Photos by Alex Goff. Additional photos have been uploaded to the Centennial Flickr group.

Deciding what college to attend is one of the hardest decisions any person will make in their life. For 100 years now, young aspiring journalists have been making the easiest decision possible.

As the Missouri School of Journalism celebrates its 100th birthday hundreds of J-School alums flocked to Columbia to check out the newly renovated Walter Williams Hall and the brand new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Ever since the opening of the J-School it has been considered the best there is and because of this success, has drawn some of the most ambitious young men and women from around the world. The going joke for those at Mizzou is that anyone who is from out of state…is bound to be a journalism major.

The opening ceremonies started on Wednesday night with a BBQ and free concert open to the public at Mizzou Arena. Dean of the J-School, Dean Mills welcomed everyone that was an alum back to town and encouraged all of the journalism undergraduates in the crowd to take notice of the professionals and pioneers of their profession and follow their steps to continue taking journalism to another level for the future.

Then came the entertainment of the evening. With the directing hand of Ken Paulson, BJ ’75, senior vice president and editor of USA TODAY, “Freedom Sings”, a critically acclaimed concert that combines music with a history of the First Amendment and the United States.

Ok, so this sounds like a super boring concert right? I mean it’s about press freedom and the history of the First Amendment for God’s sake. But only after a couple of minutes I realized that this wasn’t just something that PBS would run on a Sunday morning.

The show focused on songs over the past three centuries that faced strong scrutiny, were censored and even banned because of their content. The narration took the audience back in time by playing these songs and giving background information to why the First Amendment was supposed to protect these songs and their writers.

The show expanded on why the First Amendment is so important to every American citizen and why we need to protect it. Songs ranged from gospel to rock to rap and included: “Short People” by Randy Newman, “Annie Had a Baby” by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, and many others.

The concert was a surprisingly good one; a round of applause goes to the band and the people from the J-School that booked them because I highly doubt there is another concert on tour where the audience will sing along to “This Land is Your Land” and “Puff the Magic Dragon” in the same set.

Thursday night brought the class reunions. Alex Goff and I went to the Wine Cellar and Bistro in downtown Columbia where 14 members of the ’71 Radio and TV class gathered.

Interviewing anyone that you don’t know can be a very intimidating thing and walking into a private room full of prominent journalists and PR advisers while they are eating a very expensive meal is nerve-wracking as well. But graduate Steve Doyal quickly met Alex and I with open arms.

Now the senior vice-president of public affairs and communications of the greeting card giant, Hallmark, Doyal felt that attending the J-School gave him a leg up on his competition. It taught him to deal with urgency, to be decisive and that thinking critically are all important ideas to remember after students have left the school.

“The school was very different then, the broadcast sequence was among the smallest and now it’s among the largest,” he said. “We still believe that the Missouri Method is the way to go and that is why the Missouri School of Journalism continues to be the best in the world.”

Doyal then introduced us to Senate Minority Whip for the state of Nevada, and J-School alum, Valerie Wiener. After graduating with her BS in broadcast she received her second degree in literature and eventually went to law school. Wiener was most proud of her historic run as being a part of the first all women legislative team in United States history.

She has written several books and has held her position in Nevada legislation since 1996. She said it was nice to be back for the first time in 35 years and that the most important thing she learned in her time away was that it is vital to restore political faith in the people because they are the ones who ultimately have the power.

After speaking with several alums, they continued with their dinner and began to go around the table giving a brief account of their lives over the last 35-plus years. After only two people talked about their accomplishments in their business and personal lives another alum interrupted and said, “We’ve gone through two people and they have combined to write six books, this doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.” Then Doyal chimed in bragging that he at least read one book in the last 35 years. Walter Williams would be proud.

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Coming Home Again

Posted by Kiki Schmitz on September 14, 2008

Journalists, it’s been said, are pretty good at thinking on their feet. If an interview goes sour, a good journalist can lighten the mood and put the subject back at ease. If a headline won’t fit, a good journalist can replace the lengthy line and still set their story apart. If a centennial closing ceremony performance is accidentally interrupted mid-song, well, a good journalist can cover for that too.

Dean Mills is a good journalist.

Still fresh from belting out the National Anthem, and mouths open to begin the Alma Mater, four members of the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Forte a cappella group were cut short, as the announcer introduced Mills before they could sing a note. As the audience, realizing the error, began to boo, the announcer, identified only as “Rod,” said eloquently, “Oh!” (Editor note: He was referring to Rod Gelatt)

Shuffling back to center stage, the quartet sang and the crowd cheered. Mills, taking the stage for the second time in two minutes, quipped “we were just trying to build demand for that wonderful singing group.”

Mills went on to recap the centennial celebration, covering discussion forums and international guests, flying in from France, Denmark, China and elsewhere to make the event. He extended thanks to the alumni, current faculty, and students for their efforts.

“We promised a good time, “ said Mills “and I hope we delivered. I have heard a few complaints about the sessions though—apparently, they were all so good, people couldn’t figure out which one to go to.”

And while the attendees had a hard time picking and choosing, there were still those that couldn’t make the event at all. Alumni Jim Lehrer of PBS sent a video message apologizing for his absence and expressing his “congratulations to the school and all [his] fellow alumni.”

Even the locals came out to show their J-School pride, with Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman addressing the crowd and joking that the city tries “to provide enough fodder to keep the journalists happy.” Hindman welcomed back alumni to what he called their student hometown. “I hope you like what you see.”

Mills returned to honor Suzette Heiman and Ashlee Erwin, who started planning for the centennial over three years ago.

“It was a real honor and a privilege, “ said Heiman, “to be able to do this. Thank you.”

From here, the focus shifted to the Telling the Story, Fair and True program, performed by faculty and students from the University of Missouri School of Music, under Conductor Edward Dolbashian. The orchestra played as more than 200 photos from the Pictures of the Year International competition appeared on screen. In the background, student narrators read from Walter William’s “The Journalist’s Creed.”

Pictures flashed by, images of Mother Theresa and Muhammed Ali flanked by penguins and polar bears and nuns having fun. There were pictures from womb until tomb, little league victories and cheerleaders crying, Albert Einstein with his tongue out, and a baby with spaghetti on his head. The final pictures, a juxtaposition of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising and a similar shot taken at ground zero following 9/11, lingered on screen, as the orchestra rose to an ending.

As the violinists took their bows, Mills returned to introduce poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Yevtushenko penned a tribute to Russian journalists killed in recent years, victimized for reporting the truth.

He spoke passionately, apologizing for his “inevitable Siberian accent,” and began his poem first in Russian, than ending in English. Yevtushenko’s reading grew more and more emotional, as the audience stilled and the orchestra sat silently behind him. His intensity increased, until he was nearly shouting the word “shameful,” used to describe mafia killings. His words still echoing, he finished, nodded slightly, and extended a “thank you,” before leaving the microphone. The crowd rose in standing ovation

As the evening drew to a close, Mills addressed the audience one final time. No need for a quick witted response, Mills opted for a simple, fitting send off.

“We assume you’ll all be back in a 100 years. Thank you very much.”

And with that, a centennial themed slideshow began to play. The background track, written by alumni Jenn Schott and Jack Smith, brought back memories of high school graduations. As the lights went up and the crowed filed out, the lyrics seemed fitting.

“This is where it started, where it all began. Writing my first story, dreaming of the glory out there, somewhere, waiting for me. This is where I come from, this is who I am.”

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Your Brain on Media

Posted by Kevin Bailey on September 13, 2008

I took my time moving from Newspaper Next to Your Brain on Media and as I walked in the room I realized my mistake.  All the seats were full and so was the floor.  I managed to squeeze in the door as Paul Bolls began his presentation.  Paul talked for the first 30 minutes of the presentation and introduced Mizzou’s PRIME lab (Psychological Research on Information and Media Effects).  Kevin Wise and Glenn Leshner followed Bolls and showed some of the projects they are currently working on and the results and how they are able to pair them for easier viewing.  All in all it was a great presentation that was worth the crowd.

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President’s Roundtable : Photo Blog

Posted by Dak Dillon on September 13, 2008

The President’s Roundtable featured a variety of guests discussing a variety of topics pressing in the journalism field. Below are a few photos from the event that capture the discussion… Click Read More for more.



Jesse Auditorium

Jesse Auditorium

Read the rest of this entry »

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RJI Dedication

Posted by amseibel8 on September 13, 2008

So walking to RJI, I’ll admit, I was confused. I had never seen this building before, where is it? What is exactly is this dedication about? Maybe it was my lingering fatigue from my two-day migrane I had that caused my confusion, but as I was walking, suddenly…Oh, yeah, that must be it…

Hundreds of people trickling in and out of the building, the futuristic, amazing architecture of the building in front of me, yeah this was probably it. I noticed the sign outside of it, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. Wow, okay so this is where I’m going to be studying journalism for the next for years? Not bad.

So what is this dedication going to be like? I had no idea. To be honest, it really just clicked in my head that this is the opening of this institute. Again, the fatigue taking over. So anyways, who are all of these people here? Looking around, I notice a lot of students, a lot of alumni, and a lot of people sitting in the front in chairs, who I assume are the celebrities and the important alumni we’ve been hearing about (later on I’ll find out that I’m right).

Right away I noticed the architecture and the structure of the building I was in. It was amazing: glass walls, glass podium, multiple levels, an upper level walkway, crisp, clean, newly painted, white walls. It’s very modern looking. You can also see the lower level, complete with dozens of new Mac computers. I am informed that this is the Futures Lab. It looks awesome. Just looking around is exciting.

The ceremony is pretty short. Dean Mills (Dean of Mizzou Journalism School) introduces everyone and gets the ceremony going. He used the “modern, light, open interior” to describe the hope and inspiration for RJI. The second speaker was actually the most inspirational for me. Lauren Zima (President of MU Journalism Scholars) spoke of her experience as a student and the ways they have paid off. She had just come back from a study abroad program also. Adult speakers are good, and in this ceremony they were fantastic, but Lauren really touched me because watching an actual student speak about how she was actually following her dreams, thanks to the J-School, gave me a lot of joy and excitement. She continued to talk about the new technology that will be available at RJI and that will make our J-School even better. Seriously, if you’re a J-School student, let me just tell you, you should be VERY excited to go here.

More speakers continued to come up. Pam Johnson (Executive Director of RJI) introduced a video featuring different people in the journalism world (who were all present, some also work here) who talked about their amazing goals to advance journalism, as technology is also advancing. They also talked about renewing the journalist creed for the new century. All of the goals they were talking about were basically revolving around changing journalism with the changing technology, and to use technology to figure out how people want to get their news.

After the video, the speakers kept getting bigger and better. First the Chancellor of MU came up, Brady Deaton. He said a quote that was my favorite throughout the entire ceremony. In regards to the new institute and all of us who will be roaming its halls, he said, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” And he is very right. Us journalism students need to step up, but with RJI I have a feeling it won’t be too hard or painful.

President Gary Forsee, Cheryl Walker, Mayor of Columbia Darwin Hindman, Governor of Missouri Matt Blunt, and finally Fred W. Smith all spoke with fantastic and exciting eloquence. As a teenager still, I get bored easy. And I can honestly tell you, they really were great speakers, not to mention these are very important people. After all spoke, Dean Mills, the Governor, and Fred W. Smith walked to right in front of where I was standing (I had no idea I had such a prime standing spot) to something covered in a black cloth. They unveiled it, a statue of Donald Reynolds, symbolizing the dedication of RJI. Now, the rush to the cooler of Tiger Stripe over in the corner!

Pretty darn cool, I must say. All of you J-School students should be extremely excited to come to RJI. I had no idea about it until I went to the dedication, so I imagine that none of you have even seen it yet. Trust me, though, it’s amazing.

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Former War Correspondent Credits Mizzou for Success

Posted by Spencer Pearson on September 13, 2008

Just before the dedication of the new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute Friday, my colleagues and I had the pleasure of meeting former foreign correspondent Seymour Topping (BJ ’43).  Seymour was happy to tell us how Walter Williams’ School of Journalism was able to prepare him for a successful reporting career.

Mr. Topping was attracted to the University of Missouri because he had interest in serving as a foreign correspondent in China.  Walter Williams had set up schools of journalism in China, and the University had its own paper, The Missourian, which offered hands-on experience to students.  These factors convinced Mr. Topping to enroll at Mizzou.  His studies were interrupted when his ROTC group was called to serve in WWII.  He served as an Army officer until the end of the war, then returned to Columbia, MO to graduate in 1943 and embarked on a very eventful and successful career.

Seymour Topping began his career as a war correspondent in China during the outbreak of the Chinese Civil War.  He also had the privilege of covering the Cuban Missile Crisis and the trial of U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers during the height of the Cold War.  In 1966 he returned to New York and became the foreign editor for The New York Times. Mr. Topping gave all the credit for his success to the School of Journalism.  He told us that the only training he received before going to China was working at The Missourian under Gene Sharp.  This experience equipped him to follow his dreams farther than he ever could have imagined.  His career is just one of many examples of the influence our school has had on the world of journalism, and his story will continue to inspire generations of students to carry on the future of journalism.

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Radio/TV Class of ’71 Secures Room Dedicated to Beloved Professor

Posted by Katie Prince on September 13, 2008

by Katie Prince

The Radio/TV class of 1971 met on Thursday at The Wine Cellar & Bistro, a dimly-lit, charming restaurant on Cherry Street. While there, my group and I managed to talk with some of the alumni about the dedication of the Dr. Edward C. Lambert Seminar Room in the new Reynolds Journalism Institute. Lambert, who pioneered the broadcast movement in the early seventies, was not slotted to receive a room in his name in the new building. When Nan Bauroth discovered that from the Alumni newsletter earlier this year, she wrote a letter to the editor detailing why Dr. Lambert deserved a room. A classmate that she had not kept in touch with, Paul Fiddick, read her letter and agreed – so much so that he began to try to raise money for one. Within fifteen days, he had gathered $300,000 in support of the new room. As Ms. Bauroth says, “it [the speed of the fundraising] speaks to the nature of Dr. Lambert and his legacy.”

As we spoke with the alumni, it became clear just the effect that Dr. Lambert had on the lives of his pupils. Each of them spoke of his lasting legacy and alluded to the parallel between the broadcast of their generation and the burgeoning digital media industry of today. Most had positive things to say about the future of journalism and have in fact stayed up-to-date with the newest technology. Mike Wheeler, in his youth Dr. Lambert’s graduate assistant, helped to launch “Jacked“, a website that allows its viewers to follow the Missouri Tigers by chatting with Missourian reporters at the games.

Overwhelmingly, the Radio/TV class of 1971 had high hopes for the future of journalism, a relatively rare outlook these days. They see the changing industry – the switch to digital – as an opportunity rather than the disintegration of “real” journalism because thirty-seven years ago, they were standing on the same precipice as print shifted into broadcast, which is now one of the foremost journalistic industries.

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Newspaper Next 2.0

Posted by Debra Mason on September 13, 2008

By Kaleigh Glaza
What is Next for Newspapers?
One of the most important challenges that newspapers face today is the competition from the emerging market of online journalism, according to Steve Buttry, a trainer with the American Press Institute and editor of The Cedar Rapids Gazette. At a presentation on Thursday as a part of the Centennial Celebration, Buttry addressed how rapidly the online sector is outgrowing many of the smaller newspapers in today’s mass media market. API’s project, Newspaper Next 2.0 seeks to bring journalism up to speed with new technology and reporting methods.

Newspaper Next 2.0 is a kind of online tutorial for today’s newspapers on how to survive in an increasingly online world. Though filled with statistics and charts that are in no way encouraging to print journalists, it also offers potential solutions to some of the most basic problems journalists face today, including the most important—the need to adjust to the new online forum.

As Buttry stood in front of a room full of his peers, he laid out in almost brutal terms the decline of the print news arena. He stressed the need for innovation despite the obstacles of training, attitude and costs, and challenged his audience to overcome these barriers, citing journalistic obligation and duty as a motivator.

Buttry claimed it was always the job of journalists to overcome, whether it was as an industry as a whole or just one reporter trying to nail that big story. “It’s part of our DNA as journalists,” he said as he paced the stage animatedly.  “We [can’t] take obstacles as excuses.”

According to Buttry, the ability of print journalism to secure revenue in the future will require focus on what he has dubbed “mega-jobs” that are geared towards connecting with the local community. “We need to become a local information and connection utility,” he stressed. This, he believes, is one of the keys to helping print news maintain relevance in new media.

Yet only time—and experimentation—will tell if Steve Buttry’s help manual will truly help print journalism to stand a better chance of not only survival, but growth.

Posted for Kaleigh by Debra Mason

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