Disruptive Journalism

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 17:00
Mon, 01/25/2016 to Mon, 02/01/2016

The readings for this week provide guidance for thinking about what kinds of things need to change in the journalism industry, and where the opportunities for change are. As you may remember, the final project for this class is to create a vision of the future of journalism.

This assignment is a bridge, to encourage you to think outside of the box. Your goal is to make a suggestion to some journalism organization to make a radical change that you think will help bring them into the modern journalism world. You can choose either an existing journalism organization (e.g. Great Lakes Echo, WLNS, or The New York Times) or you can propose creating a new journalism organization. And then make a suggestion for disruptive innovation -- a radical change in the way they conduct journalism. Finally, you should make an argument why this will work and how it will help the organization cope with the modern world.

You have a lot of freedom to choose an organization and make a radical, disruptive suggestion. Use this freedom to think outside of the box. Don't just say that they should take something they do right now, and do it online. "Take TV news segments and put them on Facebook" isn't disruptive, and it isn't really changing anything about how the organization does journalism.

Rather, how can they change the way they do business? This change might be a change in their business process -- such as how news is gathered, or how stories and articles get written and edited, or how the organization publishes and distributes their output. It might mean replacing certain people or processes with either new technologies or "the crowd". It might mean getting rid of newsrooms and having everyone work remotely. It might mean getting rid of reporters and making everyone "freelance contributors". It might mean hiring more people with specific skills, such as programmers, video producers, graphic designers, or poets.

The most important part of your essay is your argument. Why is this change a good thing? How might it help the organization cope with the changing news landscape? Does it make it cheaper to produce news? Does it enable them to make better news? Does it allow them to "do more with less"? Can they target a different audience? Why and how? Use the ideas in the readings from this week to justify your argument.

Your essay must be entered into the system by next Friday (1/29) at 5pm. It should be in the neighborhood of 300-500 words, and include a relevant image at the top of the article.

Over the weekend or on Monday, be sure to log into the class system. Try to read all of the stories from your fellow students, and (optionally) leave comments to the author about the essay. You will be assigned as a "Discussant" for one of the essays. Read that essay carefully; you will be asked to present that essay on Monday to the rest of the class. You will also "discuss" it by describing whether you agree with the argument in the essay or not, and why you think this example is interesting to think about (or not). Try to include both praise and criticism in your discussion.


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