Onsite at the Missouri School of Journalism, Edge Managing Editor Julie Campagna interviews faculty and students about the ever increasing role of technology in the field of journalism, and explores this year’s RJI Interaction Design Student Competition which centers around Adobe Flash Catalyst. Transcript.




JULIE CAMPAGNA: Hi, I'm Julie Campagna. I manage the Edge newsletter. Today we're at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where we're going to be talking about a student design competition, and with me is Mike McKean.

Mike, tell us what you do.

MIKE MCKEAN: Well, I'm a professor in the School of Journalism. I teach convergence journalism, or multimedia storytelling, and I run what's called the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which is sponsoring the contest you mentioned.

JULIE: Hearst Media is partnering with you in the competition. What is it about?

MIKE: Well, we're trying to bring together computer science students and journalism students to solve some common problems that the journalism industry is facing right now. We all know that advertising revenue is down, audiences are down, and traditional media are trying to figure out what the heck to do.

One of the things we're trying to help them figure out is how to more cost-effectively make more immersive, more interactive content that people will want to pay for or sponsor.

JULIE: Next, I caught up with Keith Politte, who manages the Technology Testing Center at the Journalism Institute. I wanted to get his take on the contest and find out how he sees the worlds of technology and journalism converging.

KEITH POLITTE: We've always embraced technology. It's really important for us to continue the legacy we've had since 1908, so whenever we find tools like Flash Catalyst or really anything that extends the capabilities of our journalism students, we jump on it. It's pretty exciting stuff.

JULIE: Why is it beneficial for students to participate in this competition?

KEITH: Sure. There are actually two reasons I would say off the top of my head. One is just the idea of being able to create immersive, interactive experiences. That's really, really important to distinguish them in the marketplace.

The other big benefit is being able to work across disciplines. What we're really allowing them to do is experiment when they're here at the University of Missouri. How does a journalism student work with the computer science students? How do they talk to each other? How do they engage around a core project? That's what really is exciting about this project.

But they're working for a real-world client, and so this is a real-world experience working with teams across campus and learning how to build these new tools. These new experiences that are important for the future of media.

JULIE: So we're going to get a chance to take a look at these projects, right?

KEITH: In a word, no. These are real-world projects, so we're all under NDA. Sorry!

JULIE: I guess we'll have to wait to see the final projects when they're presented at Adobe in May. In the meantime, let's go chat with the students and see what they think about the contest and, more importantly, how they see technology fitting into their journalism careers.

JULIE: What do you hope to gain from participating in the competition?

JESSICA MUSTAIN: I hope to gain more knowledge about a new product, Flash Catalyst, really conquer it and master it.

MATT KAMP: This competition I feel is a really good way to get real-world experience. There's an infinite amount of resources that you can work with here. I feel like this could be the future base for anything I want to do.

KYLE SCHETTLER: The chance to be able to work with students who aren't even in my college at the Journalism School but are at the College of Engineering and the School of Business, just to get practice in the real world of what a real-world setting will be.

JULIE: How does creating interactive content help you be a better storyteller?

JESSICA: Because I'm able to give the viewers and the readers something more to the story. They're able to interact with it, click on links, learn more, really enhance their knowledge.

MATT: Flash Catalyst lets you use all kinds of media any way you want to use it. That's a huge deal whenever you're telling stories, because it really makes an experience for the audience. It makes me a better journalist.

JULIE: What would you like to create with Flash Catalyst?

JESSICA: I think creating a contact widget for my web page would be perfect.

MATT: Interactive television content.

KYLE: With Flash Catalyst I would just love to design an online magazine. It's something I can't wait to do.

JULIE: I was a little disappointed that we didn't get a chance to see the student projects. But it is cool to see how excited these students are about using Flash Catalyst to reshape media and breathe new life into journalism.

Well, Mike and Keith, thanks so much for being such great hosts.

MIKE: Thanks, Julie. We're really looking forward to Adobe hosting us and our students when we showcase our results in the spring out in San Jose.

JULIE: Great. Well, in the meantime, where can we follow the progress of the competition?

KEITH: Sure. Follow us at RJIonline.org.

JULIE: We will do that. Well, it's time for me to head back to San Francisco, and I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Edge.