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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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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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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

Posted in Centennial Post, Friday, Media, RJI | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sprouting Interest in Agricultural Journalism

Posted by Jill Kline on September 12, 2008

Although agricultural journalism is not technically part of the journalism school, the achievements are just as numerous and noteworthy as those in any other journalism sequence. The Agriculture Journalism reunion was a chance for students and alumni to celebrate successes and discuss the future of Agricultural Journalism.

The Thursday evening get-together included food and fellowship as well as presentations from faculty and current students. Proud grins spread across the faces of attendees as Tom Payne, Vice Chancellor for Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, spoke about the most recent developments of the school, which included a new focus area on Food and Wine.

Current Agricultural Journalism major and president of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Rachel Duff, also spoke. She recognized the many Mizzou Ag-J students who placed in the national Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Critique and Awards. Overall, Mizzou students brought in over twelve different awards.

Agricultural Journalism may not be well-known yet; but it is definitely a growing interest. The school boasts their largest number of students ever, and with new advancements each year the trend shows no sign of stopping.


Posted in Reunions, RJI | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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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“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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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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The Reynolds Journalism Institute: Already Classic?

Posted by Mike Robertson on September 12, 2008

The new Reynolds Journalism Institute has only allowed three days for photographers to capture its beauty and grandeur and already I’m seeing some ‘classic’ shots. These ‘classic’ shots are the photos that everyone and anyone has to take. For instance, here on campus, The Columns and Jesse Hall from the Quad; in St. Louis, the Gateway Arch; etc. The fact is that the RJI is such a beautiful building that every single inch of it could soon become part of a ‘classic’ shot. Sadly, this has not happened so far and I have decided to help change that.

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Paying for Your Online News

Posted by absolutelyape on September 12, 2008

Bill Densmore spoke on “Building the Information Valet Economy” –

“The idea is to define, rally, doc and support a coalition of publishers, advertisers, technology and financial services companies in a… network.”

It’s called a “valet” because that’s the name of the person in the hotel lobby that knows everything that’s going on… this program is supposed to help you access information that’s expensive to produce or based on permissions. Basically, if you were a part of it, you would buy access to or get paid to view information online.

“The meaningful way to fight piracy is you need to gives consumers legitimate options to get what they want.” – Peter Chernin, Pres, News Corp.

Information Valet wants to make it easy for people to “do the right thing” (pay for news services). They want to look at news as a service, not as a product.

It sounds daunting to think that news sources will not be free online at some point… I’m not sure how much I believe that the widespread news industry will, through something like Information Valet, start charging to view their sites. A few major news sources have tried to get people to subscribe (and most magazines still do… Foreign Policy, National Review, etc.), but the Wall Street Journal is the only major newspaper that’s been able to pull it off. (I’m not including charges for archives, like the NYT.)

How do you get people to pay for something they’ve been getting for free for years? It would have to be a comprehensive, wide-spread effort. I guess we’ll see how it pans out in the next couple of years. I don’t buy it, but some people may.

And here’s another question: since it’s online, how much of this for-pay information will just end up getting hacked?

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Valerie Wiener – Whip, Alumnus, Practitioner

Posted by Julie Willbrand on September 12, 2008

Valerie Wiener (BJ ’71, MA ’72) takes notes during the "Religion and Politics" forum Thursday morning.

“I should be knocking on doors,” said Valerie Wiener (BJ ’71, MA ’72).  The current minority whip in the Nevada State Senate is up for re-election after being in the Senate 12 years.  I had the privilege of interviewing this remarkable woman following the “Religion in Politics – God in the White House” forum Thursday morning in the new Reynolds Journalism Institute.

What got you interested in this particular forum?

VW:  I just completed a year of prerequisites, and I’m about to begin a two-year study in my church to become a religious science licensed practitioner.  It’s a metaphysical church like Unity or Christian Science, not Scientology… The first half of the year I’ll be at the legislature if I get re-elected, though, so I’ll do it by web-cam or telephone, which will be interesting…  So I kind of lived this story.

What do you plan to do as a practitioner?

VW:  It will help me become a better person.  I don’t know, I have to get through it first.  If I get re-elected, I still have four years of service left to my district in Las Vegas.

What have you enjoyed most about the Centennial so far?

VW:  Catching up with classmates that I haven’t seen for 37 years, reminiscing about the old days.  We actually have an event tonight – there will be 15 or 20 of us.  A lot of my classmates have done really well… Mike Wheeler of CNBC… Paul Fiddick, the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under Clinton.  Ironically, the first T.V. show I produced here as part of my masters in broadcasting, Rod Gillette was my anchor, the host on the show.  I just saw him for the first time in decades.

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