RJI news series
RJI reports on a wide variety of topics of interest to the journalism industry — from how to integrate the use of drones into your newsroom’s information gathering toolbox to columns from working journalists sharing their years of experience. To help you find the information you need and share more like it, we collect related news stories into series.
Innovation in Focus is a regular series exploring emerging technology and methods of storytelling for newsrooms worldwide. We will interview experts, test tools and provide our findings on a different topic each month. Whether you're a one-man band or a large metro, this series will help you take the next step in innovative journalism.
Post is a new media review program from InvestigateTV, Raycom Media’s streaming channel dedicated to in-depth and watchdog reporting. Post is presented in partnership with the journalism organization Investigative Reporters and Editors. The monthly program is taped at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, a partner of InvestigateTV.
Is the First Amendment still relevant in the age of social media? How can we be sure that what we’re reading and watching is true? What can social media platforms do to curtail the spread of misinformation and lies? How can journalists make the best use of social media to gain audience and enrich their reporting while also protecting themselves from harassment? We explored these questions and more with journalists, social media experts and legal scholars.
Five Missouri School of Journalism seniors helped advance new storytelling initiatives and business practices at leading news organizations as the latest group of RJI Student Innovation Fellows. Their projects ranged from creating Snapchat content intended to reach first-time voters to helping a product team use emerging technologies such as virtual reality to create content.
With tight budgets and newsrooms getting smaller, news coverage in communities suffers. That’s driving RJI Fellow Simon Galperin, founder and director of the Community Information Cooperative, to launch community information district campaigns during a 2018-19 RJI Fellowship. Info districts fund local news and information projects through an already existing news outlet or by launching separate civic dialogue projects, text messaging services or e-newsletters. The districts would be funded like other special service districts that provide fire protection, water, or sanitation services. Residents and businesses in a geographic area elect to each pay a small amount towards a public service. With everyone contributing, there could be enough funds to support effective local news providers. During the project Galperin plans to publish info district dispatches like — brief, public updates like this one on aspects of the community information districts initiative.
Over the past 10 years, the people at RJI have worked hard to ensure journalism has a long and bright future. This includes RJI's ongoing fellowship program, the most flexible in the country, beginning with traditional residential fellowships, where fellows spend eight months in Columbia, Missouri, working on their projects full time.
Journalism, as a practice and a profession, stands at a financial crossroads. For much of its history, the money ledger has resided on the “other side” of the journalism business. While journalists pursued truth, advertisers seeking an audience provided the cash flow. Traditional approaches are being supplemented with dynamic, leading-edge practices that demand that content creators and editors understand more about the financial health of their media entities. Oct. 12–13, 2017, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Missouri School of Journalism hosted an intimate, powerful and resonant conversation on the importance of creating engaging content while maintaining a monetization strategy that works. The opportunities for making money with strong foundational content have never been greater. We looked at best practices for how journalists, editors and other media leaders are engaging audiences while increasing the bottom line.
The sky’s the limit for participants in the 2017–2018 RJI Student Competition, sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Previous competitions focused on a specific industry concern or platform. But this year students may address any issue facing the news media, including audience engagement, news productivity and accuracy.
Dear newspaper publishers, People are calling you names: “News Sites Are Fatter and Slower Than Ever.” They question your competence: “Local newspapers have done a terrible job building local digital audiences.” Your local papers are the major employer of our nation’s reporters and the reservoir of regional history. We need you, but you’re losing us. Barrett Golding, web developer and leader of Hearing Voices from NPR, looks at the issue of the poor performance of most newspaper websites.
What’s fact and what’s fake were questions that dominated the 2016 election campaign. Now that Donald J. Trump has been sworn in as the 45th U.S. president, what new challenges face journalists as they seek to cover the White House and Congress accurately and fairly? White House correspondents, Washington bureau chiefs, fact-checking experts, media critics and former White House officials gathered in Washington, D.C., on March 9, 2017, to discuss their strategies for covering the new administration.
Google and Facebook: New tools to enhance storytelling, reach and engage local audiences. Both Google and Facebook have created — and continue to develop — tools to help journalists, including those in the smallest news organizations, do better work, improve workflow issues and track results. The Walter B. Potter Sr. Conference 2017 was held April 6 to 8 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute on the beautiful campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia. During this latest edition of the Walter B. Potter Sr. Conferences attendees learned how community news organizations — weeklies, small dailies and their websites — can reach deeper into their audiences, and grow their audience with new opportunities created with tools from Google and Facebook.
If content is king, then distribution are all the roads leading to, and from, the kingdom. Those used to be toll roads: A simple transaction defined by use. But today, distributed content, in its many forms, has made that transaction complex. Even confusing. Distribution isn’t just about the pipelines of ingress and regress. It’s about relationship building. In a constantly evolving distribution ecosystem, what are effective distribution strategies on- and off-platform? On March 20–21, 2017, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute tackled distribution from all angles — from processes, procedures, platforms and the all-important payment structure, and more.
How do people decide what news is trustworthy? How can journalists influence what users consume and share on social media? And in the era of fake stories, when untruths often travel faster than the truth, what can credible journalists do to stand out? When we began the Trusting News project in January 2016, we had no idea how the presidential campaign would evolve. We didn’t know the intentional spread of false information would play an even larger role in the information climate. We didn’t know Facebook’s algorithm would move toward favoring posts shared by individuals over those shared by pages, making it all the more important that news consumers help spread our content. We just knew the issue of reclaiming the credibility of journalism was worthy of focused attention.
Dodging the Memory Hole 2016: Saving Online News forum organizers initiated a travel scholarship program for select graduate students to attend the forum at the UCLA Library on Oct. 13 and 14, 2016. The travel scholarship committee was especially interested in working with students from underrepresented and underserved communities. A Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported these DTMH-IMLS scholarships, which were offered to students enrolled in graduate programs (e.g., library/information science, journalism, computer science or related fields) in the U.S. A total of 16 students were selected for the awards. As part of their participation, recipients completed short-term projects supporting the goals of the conference.
On Oct. 13–14, 2016, JDNA joined with the UCLA Libraries and the Educopia Institute to present "Dodging the Memory Hole 2016: Saving Online News," where presentrs and attendees explored solutions to the most urgent threat to cultural memory today — the loss of online news content. Journalistic content, published on websites and through social media channels, is fragile and easily lost in a tsunami of digital content. Join other professional journalists, librarians, archivists, technologists and entrepreneurs in addressing the urgent need to save the first rough draft of history in digital form. The two-day forum — hosted by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Journalism Digital News Archive (JDNA), UCLA Library and the Educopia Institute — featured thought leaders, stakeholders and digital preservation practitioners who are passionate about preserving born-digital news. Sessions updated attendees about existing initiatives, examine critical issues and create a national agenda for protecting online journalism. About the Dodging the Memory Hole series This is the fourth event in the DTMH conference series focusing on preserving born-digital news content. Its name, Dodging the Memory Hole, comes from George Orwell’s “1984,” in which photographs and documents conflicting with “Big Brother’s” narrative were tossed into a “memory hole” and destroyed. Today’s memory hole is largely the unintentional result of technological systems not designed to keep information for the long term. The previous three events were held at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library in Charlotte, North Carolina and the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. For more information about the Journalism Digital News Archive and how you can help save the “first rough draft of history,” like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, follow us on LinkedIn or sign up for our Dodging the Memory Hole newsletter.
Gone are the days when news organizations had just copy editors and page designers. Nowadays there are newsroom titles like digital optimizer, audience analyst and executive mobile editor. As social media platforms have evolved so have job titles, along with the tools journalists use to communicate with audiences. In this series, RJI will learn more about these titles and the people who hold them.
Journalists are dependent upon access to back files for research and context, but those back files may no longer be there. Almost all news content created in the U.S. today is digital, but digital content is even more fragile than print and might be scattered over a variety of media and storage systems.
Newsrooms can no longer afford to distribute poorly curated newsletters. Yet executives from many modern newsrooms say they lack the financial and staff capacity to do otherwise. In early 2017, Crosscut Public Media, in partnership with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, will be releasing a new, free tool for newsrooms and newsletter curators to begin addressing this challenge. The team has bundled a powerful package of best practices, strategies and resources into one digital newsletter wizard, which walks newsrooms and independent writers through the essential planning, considerations and decisions needed to curate effective newsletters. Leading up to this release, we’ll share weekly posts to help prepare your newsroom for the tool, and to highlight teams and individuals who are succeeding at curating effective and engaging newsletters.
How do news consumers decide what information to trust, and how can journalists teach users to be smarter consumers and sharers? Joy Mayer and a team of college students have been interviewing journalists and nonjournalists to get a sense of what creates trust and credibility between communicator and receiver.
Communities around the United States and the world are having to prepare themselves for an array of climate change impacts. The "Reporter's Guide to Climate Adaptation" is designed to give reporters from every beat a jump start on this emerging challenge. The guide has an extensive resource database, a series of helpful backgrounders, an animated explainer and video tips on story angles. Each week, Reporter's Guide editor Adam Glenn will offer news backgrounders that will help you make best use of the reporter's guide for your climate adaptation reporting. And you can visit the main site directly at http://www.ReportingOnClimateAdaptation.org or, for short, www.ROCA.news.
Dutch graduate students visited four U.S. journalism startups between December 2015 and February 2016 to observe how these entrepreneurs “make it work” and, in the process, redefine what it means to be a journalist. Their work is part of Beyond Journalism, a study of entrepreneurial journalism by 2015-2016 RJI Fellows Tamara Witschge and Mark Deuze, both journalism professors in the Netherlands.
This RJI series will take a deep dive into a strategy or new idea that is gaining traction in the news industry. In three monthly columns, we’ll do an overview of the idea, describe some best practices and talk about what’s next. Then it will be time for the next idea and the next three-column package.
Jim Brady is the CEO of Spirited Media, a media consulting firm which operated local news sites Billy Penn in Philadelphia, The Incline in Pittsburgh and Denverite in Denver before selling the businesses in early 2019. Prior to founding Spirited Media, Jim served as executive editor of washingtonpost.com, editor in chief of Digital First Media, head of news and sports at America Online and as public editor of ESPN.
Neil Mara is an experienced journalist and recently a technology director at the McClatchy newspaper group. In his 2019–2020 RJI fellowship project, he works with executives at U.S. media companies, and news tech providers, to test innovative approaches to stem the loss of born-digital news content that’s vanishing from public access due to technology and industry upheaval. Mara’s project aims to preserve irreplaceable content, and examine ways this unique content can support the digital transformation of news publishing and enrich the historical record.
Yvonne Leow is a digital media consultant and founder of Bewilder. In 2018, she co-founded a local media company called By The Bay, and has previously consulted for tech companies like Nextdoor and Sequoia Capital. Yvonne formerly worked for Vox.com, Digital First Media, and the Associated Press. She was also a JSK fellow at Stanford University and a former national president of the Asian American Journalists Association. You can find her at @YvonneLeow.
The Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Born-digital News Content forum brought together a group of stakeholders to help decide what tomorrow will bring for yesterday’s news. Forum attendees engaged with top minds working in the fields of journalism, library science, business, information technology, law, government and philanthropy. Attendees also developed approaches to possible partnerships between businesses and public institutions that can work for both private enterprise and the public good.
The two-day Dodging the Memory Hole 2015: An Action Assembly forum built on the digital news archiving priorities identified at the 2014 event Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Born-digital News Content. Sessions focused on connecting various stakeholders, evaluating work that action groups had completed since the 2014 event, and forming more working groups to collaborate on potential solutions to problems. The event was hosted by the Educopia Institute in conjunction with the Journalism Digital News Archive and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library. It took place May 11-12, 2015, at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Today’s media companies are using collaboration as a way to stay ahead of rapid change. Efficient organizations understand their core capabilities, and what lies outside their expertise. Some are bartering core competencies in exchange for skills or products; others share technology, storytelling platforms and audience-facing insights. A new “collaboration culture” is emerging and collaboration is becoming the go-to strategy to make things work in the media industries. Join us for this can’t-miss opportunity to hear from the organizations leading the way in the collaborative space. Share what’s working. Discuss barriers to success. Engage in deep conversations. Learn the skills of pivoting your organization. Collaborate on collaboration. View videos and presentations from the March 21–22, 2016, event at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
What will sustain journalism in service of democracy? Because of the rise of the Internet and the financial challenges faced by legacy media organizations, that question tugs at those who write and produce the news. Conferences, reports and columns run through the same checklist: Advertising going digital and mobile and increasingly controlled by technology platforms like Google and Facebook, not by originators of news. Older news consumers willing to pay higher subscriptions, but the millennial generation is not on board. Events, digital-marketing services and transactions are adding revenue quickly, but are a small factor, compared with advertising and subscriptions. Typically, the conferences, reports or columns have ended there — no action or answers to the challenge. That’s starting to change. The NSA-Snowden disclosures, and advertisements which follow us across the Web, have quickened the public’s understanding of the possibilities — and dangers — of the global public network. It’s clear we are tracked, but we’re not sure why or by whom. Bill Densmore, 2008–2009 RJI fellow and later RJI consultant, shared his research into this essential topic in this six-part series.
The staff of the RJI Insight and Survey Center interviewed more than 1,000 individuals randomly selected from phone number lists between January 17 and March 25, 2012, for RJI's 2012 Mobile Media News Consumption Survey. More than half of the participants used a cell phone. No incentives were offered to participate in the survey. The questionnaire was designed to gather information from both users and non-users of mobile media devices; however more than half of the questions were designed specifically for device owners. Questions were suggested and reviewed by members of RJI’s Digital Publishing Alliance. All participants were also asked to volunteer standard demographic information.
In early 2012, we invited a half-dozen people with a range of unique roles in the news production mix, to identify the most crucial challenges facing publishers at that moment in time. No enormous surprise: Money was the top concern. More specifically, a collective sense emerged that publishers could benefit from a roadmap of the many small steps needed to increase and stabilize revenue across the industry. As 2012 drew to a close, we once more turned to these insightful people (listed to the right), asking each to share what he or she learned over the course of this chapter in the evolving story of journalism. We also asked a number of other leaders across the industry to share what they learned in 2012. You’ll see excerpts in this post, with their full stories offered as a series that will post over the month of January.