Professor's Corner - August 2011


      The time when journalists wrote and audiences absorbed is over.  The goal now is to create a community between journalists, those they cover and the viewers or readers. Whether it's hyperlocal coverage, small-town crowdsourcing  or encouraging readers to use Twitter to take a story to another level, students want and need these skills to succeed beyond the classroom.

       Using the 2011 Nieman Reports "Links that Bind Us"  as well as a variety of news sources, blogs and video, here are some suggestions and teaching tools to introduce these topics and skills into your classroom. 

      As always, we invite your suggestions, questions and welcome lesson plan ideas. 




In Out My Window,” filmmaker Katerina Cizek engaged with residents of high-rise apartment buildings so they could tell multimedia stories about their lives. Using Skype, e-mail and Facebook to connect with these storytellers in 13 cities, Cizek describes this experience as teaching her “more about how notions of community take on wholly new meanings in digital space.”



Newspaper reporter Ron Sylvester started using Twitter to cover trials three years ago.  It’s taught him “the power social networking would have on my reporting”—and on the community he serves.  One woman read his stories and launched a tweeting campaign to stop local sex trafficking.

Caption: Stories on sex trafficking triggered members of the community to take action through social media


Small towns and forgotten cities can be places where reporters connect with community. Berkeley's Bob Calo describes how his graduate students' intimate portrayals of people and events convinced Richmond, CA residents to actively engage with the hyperlocal Richmond Confidential. From rural journalist Al Cross come insights about community newspapers’ digital transition at a time when websites like Topix compete for attention but rely on anonymity.

 Caption: High-school football proved to be a strong community thread. Photo by Tyler Orsburn.



Intersect, a new website, enables online communities to form around experiences, events and topics as people take part in covering an unfolding story by uploading and tagging their photos. Peter Rinearson, who created Intersect, describes how a tweet link from the Springfield News-Leader  in Missouri sent its recipients to an Intersect page with flood photos that created a storyline as the water rose in the Ozarks.