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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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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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Beastly Mizzou Photojournalism Alumni

Posted by ljbdmb on September 13, 2008

Yesterday I attended the “Carrying Photojournalism’s Practices to the Marketplace” event in Lee Hills Hall and all I can say is I was incredibly impressed. As a student considering the photojournalism track, I was both in awe and intimidated when I first walked into the auditorium. It seems everyone had some kind of hard core camera equipment and computer on them and looked just generally intense, making me feel a little bit like a twelve year old with my little notebook and pen. We were told there would be four speakers, each talking for about 18 minutes about their careers.

First up was Brian Smith, who basically proved to be the Bon Jovi of the photojournalism world. Shortly after graduating from the J-School he worked for the Orange County Register where he covered the Olympics. What was so distinctive about his photos in the Olympics shoot was that the angles were so unique. In a lot of ways they looked more like art than sports photography. He said his philosophy during that shoot was to “be where nobody else is going to be”. Since his early days as a journalist he has photographed countless celebrities and public figures, including DMX, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Venus Williams, Shaq, and Antonio Banderas just to name a few. In a good month, he’ll have FOUR cover photos on the newstands. Outside of celebrity photography, his work has been extremely varied, including sports shots and special interest pieces. In all of his photos I was struck by how striking they were. The colors are so vibrant it seems unreal, almost as if he has people placed in front of a painting. The angles are also stunning, again making his photos sometimes look more like art than what you generally expect in a journalistic piece. Throughout his presentation he gave really good advice about how to become a successful photojournalist, and perhaps more importantly how to be happy with the career. One point he emphasized through his talk was not to wait until you have your dream job to shoot like a rock star. In terms of making a living, one of his biggest points was to “OWN YOUR WORK”. In his career, he’s made a lot of money from photos that he’s kept the rights to. He told everyone in the audience to always remember to shoot what you love, and perhaps more importantly dare to be different.

Next up was Jean Shifrin, who got her start at a paper in St. Joseph and then went on to work at a studio in Kansas City. She worked for a while at the Kansas City Star, and then at a paper in Atlanta until 2005. One of her photojournalism stories was a piece about grandparents raising grandchildren, and what was so striking about it was that she made pictures incredibly intimate. After working for newspapers she decided she wanted to start her own business where she could focus her work on what she loves: documentary photography and children. Her goal is to capture personal moments in people’s lives. She photographs and binds “day in the life” and “year in the life” coffee table books filled with pictures of children and their families, as well as doing studio portraitures. She also does pro bono work in India, photographing the lives of people in a leprosy camp in India for a non profit organization.

Jennifer Loomis was next, who has had a very diverse career. The common thread through her presentation was the idea that you always need to figure out why you care about a story. While working for a paper in Evansville, Indiana, she independently researched and wrote a story called “For the Love of Jeffrey”, which was about a grandfather taking care of his disabled grandson who was having difficulty with his Medicaid. Her story ended up uniting the community, and many people donated time and money to help him and his grandson. She wrote a story about Japan about life for the elderly in nursing homes, and has also worked in East Africa. Today she takes family and maternity portraits, and continues to believe that “good photography is about making connections”. She says what moves her most about taking nude or semi nude maternity photographs is that the women often leave feeling much more beautiful and confident than they’ve felt since the start of their pregnancy. She concluded her presentation by reiterating her point that all photographers should remember to make photographs, not just take photographs.

Last up was Mark Perry, who entitled his portion of the presentation “Photojournalism, Museums, and the Long Haul”. The main point he kept making through his talk was that photojournalists should always be aware of “how time changes photographs”. He explained that ten, twenty, thirty, or more years after you took a picture, it’s meaning may be totally changed. The example he gave was of a photograph of a group of old men sitting in front of what to us looks like an old car. Thus, we see it today as a picture of old men and old cars. But when the photo was taking, that car was the hot thing on the market, so to viewers back then it represented the relationship between the past and the future. He also discussed the importance of holding on to all of the pictures you take, because what may not be usable now could be extremely valuable in the future. Years ago, he photographed life at a leprosy colony in the Midwest, but found that he couldn’t get the pictures published because the story was too real and hit too close to home. But now, years later, those same pictures hang in a museum. He then proceeded to give advice about how to get your pictures into a museum. He said the first step is to recognize that “museums treat their collections like their children”. Secondly, he said to “do everything possible to make yourself worthy of inclusion in that family”. And finally, he said it was important to develop relationships with individuals in power at the museums, who can vouch for you and your work. He concluded by saying that throughout your career, always remember to “make your assignments possible”, and not just see them as yet another piece of work.

The entire session lasted almost an hour and forty-five minutes, so as you can imagine when walking out of the auditorium my mind was crammed with advice, anecdotes, and new information about photojournalism practice and the profession itself. I hope I’ve done all the speakers justice with the little amount of space I had. If at all possible, I would REALLY recommend that whoever is reading this Google the images of these individuals!

-Lauren Breckenfelder

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BeWiki

Posted by Daniel Maxson on September 13, 2008

Through all the excitement about new media and user-generated content, there is one common complaint. For most users, the internet is far too complex. It’s simply too difficult and time-consuming to sift through everything to find information we’re casually interested in.

BeWiki is the answer to this complaint. Developed by Jeff O’Dell, the concept behind BeWiki is to automate the process of information gathering. Instead of requiring the user to go through thousands of search results and sift through what’s useful, BeWiki brings the relevant results to the user, then takes feedback. The more it’s used, the more streamlined the process becomes.

This can be useful for hobbyists. Some examples presented were photographers, fishers, doctors, and classic car enthusiasts. Of course, the individual user has much more defined interests, but that’s the point of BeWiki.

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Ambient Content: What is it?

Posted by Daniel Maxson on September 13, 2008

On September 12th, Marc Kempter introduced as to ambient content, a new form of media.

Ambient content is an answer to a problem. That problem is that a large TV is just a silent black box when it’s not being used. It doesn’t contribute much to the ambient mood of a room.

Marc and his colleagues hope that their ambient content can change that. For those familiar with ambient music, this is the next step. The TV screen can play a non-intrusive video that can either entertain or blend into the background.

The general reaction from the audience was, “Well, isn’t this just like a screensaver for a television screen?” But Marc pointed out that the significant difference was that a screensaver is not meant to entertain. In contrast, ambient content is a piece of art. It is meant to contribute to the overall mood in a room.

Two examples he gave that will be familiar to regular internet-users were that of the fireplace and aquarium screensavers. They take the place of a screensaver, but they can also be a piece of art. He argued that those are just the first primitive examples of ambient content, and that soon ambient content will actually be sold in video stores and through online sources such as iTunes.

When asked who would produce the content, he explained that at first the tools will only be available to commercial producers, but that developers of the tools are working very hard to make the tools accessible to everyone, in keeping with the age of user-generated content

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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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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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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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More on the Publishers and Editors Roundtable: The Long View for Newspapers in the Digital Age

Posted by tberens on September 11, 2008

The Fred W. Smith Forum was bursting with aspiring and seasoned journalists alike as host of the Roundtable, Everette E. Dennis of the Fordham University Graduate School of Business, began the session. Dennis promised the attendants that this was an interactive session: we were as much a part of the roundtable as the veteran panelists.

“How many of you are students?”

A healthy number of hands proudly shot up.

“How many of you are alumni of the J-School?”

Much of the remainder of the room raised their hands.

“How many of you have worked in the newspaper business?

A large portion of the room had been part of a newspaper at some point. Now for the real question:

“How many of you are feeling optimistic about the newspaper business?”

A moderate number of tentative hands rose. We laughed, but the newspaper’s current shaky reality could not be ignored.

Ken Paulson (BJ ’75) of USA TODAY reminded us that newspapers are not new. “They were the iPod of 1690,” he joked. Still, thought, he claimed to be bullish about the future of newspapers. The business model, on the other hand, leaves Paulson feeling pessimistic. “It is valuable to remember that the First Amendment guarantees the right to publish, not to profit.”

Janet E. Coats (BJ ’84) of The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune believes that part of the challenge of the changing newspaper industry is the problem of expression one faces when publishing online. It is extremely difficult to express the same things online that could be printed in a newspaper.

Michael Golden (MA ’78) of The New York Times Company offered an interesting insight into the shift from print to online media in today’s society. The print edition of The New York Times has a readership of about three to four million per day, while the online version boasts nearly eight to nine million. These statistics further illustrate the changing nature of the industry.

Paulson offered a more optimistic anecdote. He pointed out that, on a recent survey, 93 percent of students on a college campus with a Collegiate Readership Program had read a newspaper during the previous week. He also mentioned that 89 percent of USA TODAY’s revenue comes from the print edition.

Lewis W. Diuguid (BJ ’77) of The Kansas City Star said that the newspaper industry needs to change their approach to covering sensitive issues in order to appeal to a wider audience. He believes that newspapers are failing to address what readers really care about in their lives. “We’re missing the boat,” he said.

After the panelists offered their insights on the fate of newspapers, the floor was opened up for a discussion with the audience. Throughout the session, the presence of technology prevailed. Digital recorders, laptops and PDAs were far more popular than the average spiral-bound notebook.

As promised, the roundtable remained interactive throughout. Dennis ended the session with another question.

“How many of you are feeling optimistic about the newspaper business?”

Far fewer hands rose this time.

By David Oster and Theresa Berens
For full version with images, visit here.

**BLOG EDITOR ADDITION** Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow Bill Densmore recorded the event. Visit the link to hear it.

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