One of the key underlying questions at a number of sessions at today’s start of a four-day annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Denver was:
How can we save journalism?
The answer from Prof Larry Dailey, multimedia guru at U. of Nevada -Reno speaking on a panel called Breaking the Mold, was simple:
Forget about it. Instead, think about ways to save the roles journalism has played in democracy.
Dailey, who must be among the first j profs in the country to teach a journalism class in Innovation, touted Harvard prof Clay Christensen’s ideas about disruptive innovation, popularized in The Innovator’s Dilemma, as a lens for considering the journalism industry’s decline.
Successful businesses, driven by stockholder’s demands, stick with routines and the competencies developed to efficiently carry them out, and this inevitably leads to inflexibility and failure as the nimble innovator races between their legs, so to speak. Think music industry and Napster.
What the journalist of the future needs, then, is an ability to think creatively, to come up with new ideas, to learn to start out with what Dailey dubs “a crappy prototype” that might lead to a real innovation — or might not.
Other panelists included:
Mississippi’s Samir Husni “Mr Magazine” who emphasized creating experiences for audiences, citing examples from magazine covers that ranged from scratch and sniff to 3D to an audience favorite: peel the clothes from a cover boy. (Doesn’t take much to excite a bunch of middle-aged professors.)
Minnesota’s Nora Paul who discussed their Knight News Challenge-funded project that aimed to create an online game about Ethanol to see if a play format would attract and better inform audiences. The answer: um, not really. Er, sounds like idea that ran out of gas?
Ball State’s Jennifer George-Palilonis discussed cross-campus projects pulling together multiple departments and colleges to create innovative online media and mobile apps.