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Best of the President’s Roundtable

Posted by Daniel Everson on September 13, 2008

Technology, communication, and journalism industry leaders convened in Jesse Auditorium Friday afternoon to discuss the futures of technology and journalism. The session, officially titled “Communication for a Digital Globe,” was taped by KETC/Channel 9 of St. Louis for future broadcast. University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee hosted the roundtable, and Russ Mitchell, BJ ’82, of CBS News moderated the discussion. The seven panelists were

  • Carol Loomis, Senior Editor at Large, Fortune;
  • Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility;
  • Sue Bostrom, Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cisco;
  • David Dorman, Chairman of the Board, Motorola, Inc.;
  • Mark Hoffman, President, CNBC;
  • Amy McCombs, President and CEO, Women’s Foundation of California;
  • Dave Senay, President and CEO, Fleishman-Hillard.

Below are some of the best of the comments offered by these experts. (I say “some” because to capture all the great insights would be an impossible task.)


On the future of handheld wireless devices (Blackberries, iPhones, etc.):

“Devices will be more complex and yet simpler to use.” —de la Vega

“Technology evolves in step functions, not always smoothly.” —Dorman

“We have to have both the content and the devices together.” —Bostrom

“I think it’s (wireless communication) making the world smaller. It’s making the world more accessible.” —Hoffman

“If the market sees value in the new apps, they’ll survive.” —Hoffman

“If you build it, they will come, and they will find it.” —Hoffman


On the mainstream media:

“When I graduated, there was no such word as ‘convergence.'” —Mitchell

“The mainstream media have got their head out of the sand and have really started to move forward. … Look at where the elephants are dancing—and you want to make sure they’re dancing and not rushing at you. … I think we have a lot of those elephants at this table.” —McCombs

“There have been many times in history where (people said) the mainstream media would be dead. … I think none of it will die. I think all of it will change. There will be written word … on paper. There will be written word … on wireless devices.” —Hoffman

“I probably have my feet stuck in the mud of the mainstream media more than anyone else (on the panel), and I can tell you, we’re trying to slog out of it. … There’s always going to be a market for trusted information, but the question is who’s gonna pay for it.” —Loomis

“You will see our students inventing the future of journalism (at the new Reynolds Journalism Institute).” —audience member Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism

“Where the quality comes in is (in) the analysis, in the thorough discussion of what’s going on. … If we do let ourselves get away from that which is fundamental in journalism—and that is telling the story—we’re going to have a pretty boring society.” —Hoffman


On credibility:

“If you had to pick one thing, I think that’d be the one that you’d pick. … Credibility, which is quality, is at the center of every successful media (outlet).” —Hoffman

“Credibility, regardless of the medium you use, is important. … I think it is better … to just let the credibility sort itself out.” —de la Vega

“It’s the self-policing nature of the Internet.” —Bostrom


On citizen journalism:

“When I hear terms like ‘citizen journalist,’ it strikes me like ‘amateur physician.'” —Dorman

“I wonder if people are flocking to places of comfort, rather than places of tension, of dialogue.” —Senay

“The journalist today is engaged in a seminar and not in a one-way lecture anymore.” —McCombs

“Does it scare anyone that there are no gatekeepers? I know it scares me.” —Mitchell

“I can tell you I’ve been misquoted online as many times as I have in the traditional media.” —de la Vega

“The idea of the gatekeeper is very frightening. … The role of the journalist is really the curator, helping (the reader) to wander through the vast array (of information).” —McCombs


On future communications and interactions among people:

“It’s not about the power of physical connection, it’s about the human network.” —Bostrom

“Informing people, persuading people, and connecting people with people—that sounds like a great description of the Internet.” —Senay

“The market itself, the killer application, is still people talking to each other.” —Dorman

“I was talking to an 18-year-old who thought e-mail was passé.” —McCombs


Advice for current students in the J-school:

“Consider the mainstream media notion a pretty elastic notion.” —Senay

“This is a great time to be in school here. … Be the risk-taker and an entrepreneur.” —McCombs

“Journalism is going to be with us forever. … It’s gonna be more complicated. You’re gonna have to have all the fundamental skills. … It’s gonna get more complicated on one end, but it’s got to stay as pure as its ever been on the other.” —Hoffman

“The opportunity all of you have is to become an expert.” —Bostrom

“Don’t run away from the challenges. Inside every challenge is an opportunity.” —de la Vega


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Dedication of the New Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

Posted by Becky Dale on September 12, 2008

Long before the start of the dedication ceremony, I bustle through the doors of the Reynolds Journalism Institute only to find myself bombarded with journalists, friends, family, and distant relations from all sides. The girl at the door gave me one of those tired smiles that have become such a rarity in the past few days. I guess the festivities have been wearing on her.

I, however, felt that surge of adrenaline akin to the start of the Mizzou football games, but on a different level. The excitement in the room was intoxicating. Mingling would be more accurately described as apologetically pushing and shoving to reach a place where I could see the podium as well as the then-covered Donald W. Reynolds bust.

Dean Mills, his face projected across the four plasma screens on the wall in the opening between the first floor and the Futures Lab below, began the ceremony with the exact time that had passed since the opening of the Missouri School of Journalism, down to the hour. Standing on this monumental day in the RJI, Mills pronounced it a “new institution for this century.” And indeed it should be.

After a significant list of the key players in the coordination, planning, and construction of the RJI, and after a few words from various leaders in Mizzou’s world of journalism, director of the Journalism Institute Pam Johnson introduced a video depicting five Donald W. Reynolds Fellows projects underway behind RJI doors.

Bill Densmore of the University of Massachussets-Amherst recognizes the Internet as a terribly convenient, though sometimes overall terrible, source of information. His goal in “The Information Valet” is to secure the internet for users, thus maximizing convenience as well as privacy. This work will sustain the credibility of journalism.

Margaret Duffy of the Strategic Communications department at MU found herself observing the youth market of today. With youth and young adults accessing information in such a different manner from even one generation before, Duffy plans to answer the question of why harness that information for the expansion of journalism.

Mike Fancher, retired president of the Seattle Times, chose to focus on the Journalism Creed. While the creed itself is upstanding even in today’s world, he admits to some new elements that desperately need to be added. These standards are the same for which the public holds journalists accountable, and an updating public has updated standards. Technology will find its way into the creed.

Jen Reeves has been “a pioneer in using non-traditional delivery sources…in order to deliver content,” claims the Centennial/Dedication Program. However, these non-traditional ways are used every day for the personal use of non-journalists. Jen sees, indeed takes part, in the use of these sources and has founded her own multimedia, multi-platform news hub which she calls SmartDecision08.com. This hub aims to push the collaboration of multimedia projects and the newsroom. This will ultimately expand the options of journalism and hopefully profits as well.

Jane Stevens came to MU from the University of California, Berkeley with specialization in science and technology. She plans to create what she calls “shells,” networks that encourage the collaboration of community members and journalists. Two current shells focus on ocean news and information and on child trauma. While the reporters serve as fact-checkers and viable sources, communities are able to use these shells as means to help address and solve issues.

Deputy Web editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Matt Thompson plans to make good use of the bane of all English teachers–Wikipedia. Tentatively called “Wikipedia-ing the News,” Thompson hopes to create a news base as extensive as Wikipedia, with more reliable sources: the very reporters who put the facts in circulation to begin with.

Chancellor Brady Deaton stood to congratulate Mizzou for the addition of its new building and to insist “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Journalism students working out of this state-of-the art building have greater commitments and responsibilities in store for them.

President Gary Forsee applauded the great accomplishment of the faculty and administration. Their leadership and skills have set Mizzou as a model for other universities. The RJI will “lead the journalism school to greater distinction.”

Words from the Board of Curators, Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman, and Governor Matt Blunt are not to be shoved aside. All three spoke of the integrity and innovation that the RJI now stands for and the traditions that must be carried on by current and future journalism students.

Perhaps the most revered guest of all, though, was Fred W. Smith, Chairman of the Reynolds Foundation. The Alumni Center, dedicated in 1992, was the last building that Don Reynolds himself saw make its beginnings on the Mizzou campus. Smith shared heartwarming stories about Don’s attachment to MU, particularly the tigers, and his hope that the RJI would “perpetuate the entrepreneurial spirit” of Mizzou’s journalism students–the world’s finest.

Mr. Smith ended his speech to  a standing ovation on the part of the room that was not already standing. Dean Mills took the opportunity to invite everyone to watch the unveiling of the bust, and so ended the dedication. Alumni then adjourned to share in some of their favorite MU-famous Tiger Stripe ice cream and to continue talking and networking.

The Centennial’s Closing Ceremony at 8pm would be a bittersweet farewell for some, but the mark of a new beginning for all.

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Developments of the Future (The Final Chapter)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Cimarron Buser and Coverleaf.com

Cimarron Buser presented http://www.coverleaf.com which is technically still in beta- the site will launch officially this coming Monday, the 15th of September. Coverleaf is the future of the magazine industry, made up of digital magazines. Coverleaf offers digital editions for current subscribers to magazines as well as a wide range of options along the lines of sharing articles with others, clipping, organizing into what essentially amounts to folders, and printing them. All magazines are expected to cost $.99 an issue and Buser thus appropriately referred to it as “The iTunes of magazines.” It is to be used as a support mechanism for the print magazine industry and is a very effective tool with the incredibly range of magazines available.

Igor Smirnoff and PressDisplay

Igor Smirnoff’s presentation consisted of (and it needed little explanation beyond this) him simply showing us how a user would do things on http://www.pressdisplay.com. It contains over 800 newspapers from over 80 countries that are constantly updated in real time so that the latest editions are available. Papers can be translated instantly into 12 different languages, there is a text-to-voice option to allow the paper to be “listened” to, they can be printed, shared, and commented on (if registered).

It also contains a unique feature called a “reading map” that displays what is read most (understood by color) with each page split into 300 squares and it is also updated in real time. It contains what are called “adgets,” an advertising widget, to help fund the site. The search functions of the site scour all 800+ newspapers and you can have the site search on its own for a term multiple times in each day and deliver you notifications about the term when something new is published about said term.

It costs $10 a month to subscribe to pressdisplay.com, which sounds very appealing to students who miss news from home, such as the Kansas City Star. Of course, for some reason, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is available all over campus but the Star is nowhere to be found.

Wayne Reuvers and LiveTechnology’s LiveAdMaker

Wayne Reuvers could not make it and so his boss filled in for him. Can’t imagine that is scoring him too many points at work, but his reasons could be very valid and it is not for me to judge.

Live Technology’s primary business is to provide “solutions that assist in the process of marketing.” Ad building, of course, is the massive portion of this and thus LiveAdMaker was developed. It can be accessed at http://www.liveadmaker.com and it is exactly what it sounds like.

LiveAdMaker is convenient and easy to use and allows fewer people to make more advertisements. It is a full-service end-to-end marketing solution and can create ads for many different mediums including newspaper, online, and television. Its format is simple; however, there seemed to be a number of nuances that would take training to work through. Overall it appeared very useful for companies looking for an easy way to get more advertisements out quickly.

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Developments of the Future (Part 3)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Jon Cook and VML’s SEER

Jon Cook, president of VML Industries and an MU graduate explained the workings of VML and its biggest project, SEER. VML is 100% digital and deals in eCommerce, working with large companies such as Sprint, Hallmark, and Microsoft.

VML’s main project, SEER, allows users to understand what websites are most influential based on interaction among them. Each website is represented by a ball and there are lines that link balls that represent interaction. Different colors of lines represent stronger influence and when millions of websites are combined it gives the effect of atoms and molecules floating in space. The graphics and movement make it visually appealing but the main point is that an advertiser with the kind of information SEER provides gains a huge edge over its competitors.

Cook provided the example of the XBox 360 vs. the PS3. The PS3 was predicted to trounce its competition; however, Microsoft was simply too crafty. With the help of SEER, Microsoft located the 40 most influential bloggers about the PS3, gave them an exclusive look at the 360, allowed them to test it and generally made the case for it over the PS3. The bloggers loved it, wrote about it, and their influence contributed to what is currently 10.4 million XBox 360s sold compared to only 2.45 million PS3s.

Cook left us with this nugget of knowledge: Understanding who influences your consumers is now mandatory for success in business.

Channing Dawson and Scripps Networks’ Frontdoor.com

Channing Dawson, an employee of HGTV (and the larger Scripps Networks), informed his audience immediately that 9 of the top 10 shows on HGTV are about real-estate (with 700,000 viewers at any given time), in large part due to the struggling market. Because of its popularity, then, HGTV decided it would be even more effective to reach this audience wanting to hear about real-estate by combining the online medium with television. Thus, http://www.frontdoor.com was launched to compete with realtor.com and other similar websites.

3.5 million homes are currently listed on FrontDoor and it was only launched 9 months ago. Certain TV shows from HGTV are aired on the website as well and the plan for the future is to incorporate the home listings with HGTV’s shows. Local listings would appear on the bottom of the screen so that if a home-buyer happens to be watching, it can be paused at any point and looked up on frontdoor.com.

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A Missourian reporter walked into a bar…

Posted by Eva Dou on September 12, 2008

…and got a hot, hot story. 

I thought I’d share this. Here’s the story of the story as related by Randy Smith ’74, Director of Strategic Development at the Kansas City Star, when he talked to Daniel Maxson and myself this morning. Mr. Smith tells it better, but our flip camera unfortuitously ran out of memory at the exactly wrong time. 

One Saturday in 1974, Randy Smith was awakened at 6 a.m. with a slight hangover, by Missourian City Editor Tom Duffy: “Wake up, you’ve got a front page story to write.” A plane had crashed in a local field. The pilot and passenger had miraculously survived, but were nowhere to be found.

After a fruitless search for the pair, Smith returned to the news room, head hanging. Wise Duffy asked, “Where the hell do you think you’d be if you’d just crashed your plane? You’d be in a bar.”

So Smith started checking out local bars, and sure enough found the pilot and passenger having a drink at the Holiday Inn. He got the interviews.

“My story was stripped to the top of the Missourian the next day,” Smith said. 

A lesson in creative thinking and listening to wise editors.

Coincidentally, our other interviewee today, Argentine journalism professor, freelancer and former EU reporter Carolina Escudero, also advocated bars as a potential source of stories.

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“A Bright Start for the Second Century”: The Dedication of the Reynolds Journalism Institute

Posted by Cassandra Kamp on September 12, 2008

If you’ve happened to traipse by Francis Quadrangle on the University of Missouri campus anytime in the past five years, you may have noticed a hulking monster of a construction site consuming the northern half of the quad. But recently, the mess has disappeared! No more chain-link fences! Not a single “Pardon our Progress” placard! Construction is complete, and we are left with the newest addition to Mizzou’s campus: The Reynolds Journalism Institute. And, if you were lucky enough to wander in from Ninth Street at around 4:00 p.m. today, you would have witnessed a milestone in the University’s history: the dedication of this new landmark.

As soon as you enter, the entire building is humming. A jazz ensemble cooly plays in a corner. Students, faculty, and alumni fill the entire floor, making navigation almost impossible without a few “Excuse me”s. If you need a moment to sit down, upstairs is silent in comparison and offers a variety of modern chairs (if you can call them chairs) to rest in. Back downstairs and down the hall, in the Frank Lee Martin Memorial Library, a handful of dedicated students study, seemingly oblivious to the major event occuring just twenty yards away.

Not too long after 4:00, a procession of Journalism and University big-wigs file out of the library. Among them: J-school Associate Dean Brian Brooks, University Chancellor Brady Deaton, RJI Executive Director Pam Johnson, and a host of others. Dean Mills, the Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, steps up to the podium, while student volunteers hoist “Quiet, Please” signs a la the PGA. Mills begins the ceremony with a few words, and hands the podium over to the speakers at the ceremony.

The speakers, in order, were: Lauren Zima, President of the Missouri Scholars Association; Pam Johnson, Executive Director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute; Brady Deaton, Chancellor of the University of Missouri; Gary Forsee, President of the University of Missouri System; Cheryl Walker, Chair of the Board of Directors; Darwin Hindman, Mayor of Columbia; Matt Blunt, Governor of Missouri; and Fred Smith, Chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Immediately following the speeches, each with its share of thoughtful insight and appropriate humor, Governor Blunt and Fred Smith ceremonially unveiled the bust of Donald W. Reynolds that sits inside the main lobby of the RJI. Afterwards, in true Missouri fashion, Tiger Stripe ice cream was served, and the crowd slowly disseminated into the Columbia evening.

The overall message that left with the audience seemed to be the words of Chancellor Brady Deaton: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Indeed, the Reynolds Journalism Institute is a huge gift to the University of Missouri, and when combined with the dedicated faculty and bright students of Mizzou, it is certain ti improve the overall quality of journalism as a profession.

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Developments of the Future (Part 2)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

Bill Densmore and Information Valet

Bill Densmore, one of six Fellows of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute presented the idea of the Information Valet. Essentially it is a means of assembling publishers, advertisers, technological and financial service companies to allow for easy busying and selling of content.

Information Valet consists of a single ID and password, account, and bill across multiple websites. Users would have to pay for access to certain websites but would also be paid for looking at others. It is understood all across the field that journalism needs to change online if it is to survive, and Information Valet is meant to be a way to prevent its untimely death.

Information Valet is expected to be launched in 8 months. It should be noted that Densmore questioned the crowd a number of times about how they would react to the costs of the idea and most people indicated they would be willing to pay if easy, cheap, necessary and unique sources/stories were provided by the product.

Steve Hanson and Hanson Inc.’s Magnify Platform

Steve Hanson, who was also the moderator/time keeper of the event, presented the Magnify Platform which was a handy tool as well. He showed how it worked with a website called Backstage, one of the many companies that his company, Hanson Inc., works with. The Magnify Platform essentially searches on popular sites for video and photos and organizes them in a manner that appears just like the website it is used on (“a seamless transition”) with advertisements on the side that provide funding.

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The Power of Words

Posted by Garrett Bergquist on September 12, 2008

Ours is a dangerous profession. Journalists can and do die because they refuse to bend to the will of autocrats. I just got back from the closing ceremony for the Centennial Celebration, which featured Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko and a specially commissioned poem, “The Lead Honorarium.” Mr. Yevtushenko read his poem with extraordinary feeling, and I was riveted by every word. His voice rang throughout the room, rising and falling with emotion, refusing to allow the listener to detach himself from the moment. When at last the emotional tour de force ended, the room erupted in applause, turning to a standing ovation as the poet took his seat. The poem mentions the names of several Russian journalists who have been murdered in the past decade for their decision to stand up to the Mafia or the Kremlin. Mr. Yevtushenko himself was considered extremely dangerous by the old Soviet state for his protests of anti-Semitism and other Kremlin policies. His piece is part eulogy, part defiance toward autocracy, and part warning of the danger of letting others control what you say and write. As an aspiring journalist and a news junkie, I knew exactly what Mr. Yevtushenko was talking about. The raw power of the poem almost moved me to tears, but it also galvanized my determination to continue my journalism training. Ours is a serious job. We truly are the bearers of the light, and journalism is a task not to be taken lightly.

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Developments of the Future (Part 1)

Posted by Adam Benckeser on September 12, 2008

I woke up on Friday morning to a very cold and rainy outside world. I had an economics class at 8 but Economics Track, my event to cover, began at 9 and I rationalized that they were related enough. I entered the auditorium and the crowd was sparse at best but I understood.

I sat through nine presentations, each 20 minutes in length.

Al Bonner and the Lawrence Journal-World’s Marketplace

Al Bonner is the general manager of the Lawrence Journal-World and thus I had some real difficulty listening without bias but I tried with all my might. When I was able to push past my natural hatred as a native Missourian and student at Mizzou, the thing he called the Marketplace, the invention of the Lawrence Journal-World was a wonderful tool.

The Marketplace is a business database that businesses pay $200 a month to be a part of. It has many unique features that make it preferable to google and other, larger databases and are significantly useful when looking for something in your area. When searching on marketplace for a specific item (Bonner used the example of Cole Haan shoes), Marketplace will bring up a list of the actual stores in your area with that item in their inventory. As well, Marketplace provides local businesses with websites or directs traffic to pre-existing websites. It lists hours of business, the address, phone number, charge cards accepted, a map, email, ads/coupons and just about anything else useful to know about a business. It also functions well with google, appearing high on the list of results in a search in most occasions.

Bonner stated that the ultimate goal that the Lawrence Journal-World has for Marketplace is for all advertising for local businesses to revolve around it and though that idea is lofty at a minimum, Marketplace is certainly catching on.

Adam Brown and Coca-Cola

As the Coca-Cola presentation began, a wave of people poured into the room. It was evident, as the biggest and most famous company present, that people were really looking forward to hear what Adam Brown had to say. Adam explained that the Coke brand actually has 1200 different products around the world and they are sold in over 200 countries.

He largely spoke of the fame of Coca-Cola- there are an average of 75 news stories involving Coca-Cola around the world. 2000 blog references a day and 300 on twitter. He also stated that Coke strives to stay honest online while other large companies will plant information, pretending to be consumers praising the product.

He ended giving some advice to young journalists and businessmen that should be taken to heart: communication comes before technology. Technology may be a close second, but if you can’t communicate with your audience, it is useless.

It should be noted more than a quarter of the crowd left when Adam Brown was done.

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Celebrating the Dedication of the RJI

Posted by Nick Gass on September 12, 2008

Upon entering the state-of-the-art Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the incredibly open and welcoming architecture and plasma screens that dotted the foyer. I made my way through the crowd and found a seat next to Don Ranly, professor emeritus (PhD ’73) at the School of Journalism. It was my privilege to sit next to him and share a conversation about this challenging, yet exciting time in the profession. While the large crowd of people often made it difficult to see the speaker, I heard and absorbed everything, from Dean Mills’ opening remarks to the unveiling of the Donald W. Reynolds bust. It reminded me, as a freshman, why I chose the University of Missouri. Sure, being a native St. Louisan, it was a rather easy choice, but it reinvigorated my natural curiosity for the craft. As Dr. Ranly so wonderfully noted, I picked a great time to be here.

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