Professor Andrew DeVigal, Chair of Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement in the UO School of Journalism and Communications, shared his broad vision of the trends shaping the future of media and communication, as well as a review of the technological developments that have brought us to this point.

Professor DeVigal, who has held multimedia positions with the Chicago Tribune, Poynter Institute and The New York Times, began with a review of the evolution of the Internet in conjunction with his own education and career, a span that stretches from the early days of “Web 1.0″ in the early 1990s to what is known as the “Semantic Web” in the modern era. In that time, the internet has grown from a rudimentary means of communication to a quasi-intelligent system of interconnected devices.

DeVigal identified three trends influencing the media landscape: the “Internet of Things”, the tendency of technology to be immersive and continuous, and the concept of the “Semantic Web”.

The Internet of Things refers to networked devices that use the Internet as a part of their inherent functionality, such as the line of home management products produced by Nest.

Using clips from the film Minority Report, DeVigal discussed the second trend, the tendency of technology to become immersive and continuous; in other words, technology will become seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. DeVigal cited as an example the purchase by Facebook of the virtual reality company Oculus Rift, and the use of its goggles in immersive journalism by Nonny de la Peña.

Finally, DeVigal explored the rise of the “Semantic Web”, whereby the Internet becomes so sophisticated that multiple data points are assembled to aid (or control) humans without prompting. Eventually, he said, we won’t even be conscious of the technology running in the background all around us, much as we’re barely aware of the electricity upon which we depend each day. Striking an ominous tone, DeVigal pointed out the implications for surveillance and privacy. He concluded his formal remarks by quoting the late Jim Morrison: “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”

Posted by: alansylvestre | November 23, 2014

Why do we communicate?

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When discussing communication issues, I believe it’s of the utmost important to talk about not how we as communicators can not just inform the community, but how we can engage with the community. A high school near Ferguson is doing just that.

McCluer North High School neighbors Ferguson, Missouri, where 72% of students are white according to a recent study. When the students returned to school this year, the newspaper and yearbook staff had a choice to make. They had the option to continue to report relative stories to the community, or find a way to pay tribute to the recent protests and riots that took place in Ferguson.

They decided to create a series of stories, in collaboration with the yearbook staff, that were all relative to Ferguson. Some of them were news stories about what happened, and others were first person accounts of the events that unfolded. Each story was a different form of storytelling that contributed to a larger goal. According to the editor-in-chief in a recent report published by The Poynter Institute, the goal was to not inform the community about these events, but work to promote conversation around these topics, to find solutions.

I think it’s important as professional communicators to realize that regardless of our specializations, we must not forget that communication is a fundamental method for provoking change and reinforcing and advancing the democratic process.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: bburk2014 | November 23, 2014

Guest Speaker Video: Vox Media’s Trei Brundrett, 11/6/14

Joining us the other night via Skype was Trei Brundrett, Chief Product Officer at Vox Media. Vox is an amalgamation of hundreds of blogs organized around seven themes: news, architecture, food, sports, gaming, style and technology. These sites function like news aggregators such as The Huffington Post, serving as a clearinghouse for articles written by paid and unpaid contributors as well as an advertising platform for brands.

Brundrett, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, explained how Vox rose from humble beginnings as a single blog about the Oakland A’s to a vast network of hundreds of blogs. It achieved its success by exploiting fans’ desire for a more equal exchange of ideas around their love for a particular team, rather than the “top-down”, hodgepodge of general sports information they could get from sports media behemoths such as ESPN.

“We’re as much a technology company as we are a media company,” said Brundrett, describing the Vox ethos. “We’re just beginning to explore what it means to tell stories together, and not at each other.” In other words, amateur bloggers contribute to Vox sites alongside professional writers.

As previous speakers have pointed out, Brundrett named mobile technology as the driver behind change and growth in the media landscape. Rather than simply re-packaging existing content to fit various platforms, unique stories will have to be generated that properly fit individual platforms, he said.

Brundrett then turned to a discussion of funding models for Vox and other media companies. Hinting at the controversy surrounding what’s known as “native” advertising, Brundrett stated that the historically sacred line between editorial and advertising among media outlets may have to blur in order for those companies to stay viable. Without reliable revenue streams, “how do we sustain media and the stories we want to tell?” he asked rhetorically.

Despite the ever-present challenges posed by the economic realities of digital media and high audience expectations, Brundrett remained optimistic about the road ahead. “I’m super-excited about it,” he said.

Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | November 22, 2014

Vote for your favorite Week 8 post here!

Posted by: stratcommpdx | November 20, 2014

Like, tweet, share, and comment: new pathways for Journalism

A research conducted by the Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation examined the characteristics of news consumers across 11 social networking sites. The results – Reddit (62%), Twitter (52%), Facebook (47%), Goggle Plus (30%), Tumblr (29%), You Tube (20%) etc. – reveal that significant part of users obtain their news from these sites.

This significant social media engagement has transformed news organizations and opened pathways for a more participatory relationship between journalists and audience. The paper Reciprocal Journalism defines this engagement and “the overall process of audiences participating with journalists and with each other in creating news and building community around news” as participatory journalism (Singer et al. 2011).

Participatory journalism is a significant progress in the news making process and helps news organizations and journalists to echo the voice of the community across media channels. Overall these studies prove that dialogue is a communication trend that will influence news organizations priorities and strategic decisions.

Posted by: Rachel Fleenor | November 20, 2014

Building trust in a good cause through social media

Currently, I have been in the midst of a series of social media/communications challenges having to do with a recent social awareness campaign my work just launched. I work for an organization dedicated to improving public education for Oregon’s students. As I read the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, I kept applying it to my situation. Edelman’s three-step approach to “establishing context” and progressing in a positive manner with stakeholders was especially pertinent to my situation.

First, Edelman says we, as the organization, must “seek input” from the community, which in my case could include the students, teachers, and administration of a school – as well as parents, politicians, business owners, my own company’s employees, etc. Essentially, my range of stakeholders is enormous.

Secondly, Edelman encourages advocacy. The campaign needs to have specific goals with tangible outcomes.

Finally, Edelman stresses the importance of continual evaluation. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point of having targets that are measurable. It is important to show progress, report on metrics/analytics, acknowledge weak areas, and recalibrate to better meet goals.

Something I have found, however, is that the public is wary of causes/challenges/campaigns, even if they are for a good cause. So, how can that change?

Thinking beyond my campaign, I looked at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. By having an ordinary person spread the word about the cause via social media, the ALS Association was able to spread the message from one person to that person’s friends, who in turn spread it on to their friends.

Posted by: chrisforde915 | November 20, 2014

Give, Receive, Repeat- Connecting Individuals and the Community

A decision by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, is due at any time. The shooting on August 9 of Michael Brown in Ferguson, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer triggers many reactions across the country. Not surprisingly, individuals continue to react differently and hold strong stances on the events that are being broadcasted throughout the country.

While completing the readings for this week, I quickly recognized the role that indirect reciprocity has played, particularly within the last few days as a decision grows closer.  Molm, Collett, and Schaefer (2007) define indirect reciprocity as the act in which the beneficiary of an act returns the favor not to the giver, but to another member of the social network. Earlier this week, as I was searching for updates online from trusted organizations such as Dream Defenders and the Urban League of Portland, I discovered a new resource being shared with the community.

Ferguson national response network has provided a list of planned responses around the country to the Darren Wilson grand jury announcement. The list which is being shared actively on SNS, such as Facebook, Twitter and even Tumbler provides the community with the location, time, and place to organize and rally the day following the verdict. This aided in providing support to Baker and Dutton (2006) position, that when individuals work together, information is shared more quickly which provides the resources to meet the needs of individuals and the community.

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Posted by: reddingrob | November 20, 2014

Let’s leave the community building to the comments section.

While reciprocity is a key to building trust in a social network, it is not key to journalism. At the end of their essay, Reciprocal Journalism, the authors say that it is more of a way to understand the journalist-audience relationship in a community. The prime way an audience engages with a news story is in the comments section. The journalist finds the story, does the reporting, and writes the story. The story is the basis for discussion and the comments are where the community has their discussion.

How would reciprocal journalism work? Yes local stations do use tweeted pictures of monster snowstorms, but I see that as the extent of audience participation.  I would argue that the reciprocation is that the journalist gets a page view and the audience gets compelling information.

As a news consumer I would much rather read a story by someone who spent two hours tracking down, and getting a quote from just the right source than someone who spent those two hours answering questions from their Twitter followers.

The authors argue that the audience is less engaged when they are not active participants in news judgement and presentation. That is true, but when I take my car to the mechanic, I’m not actively involved in the repair process. I agree with the authors that there’s a transaction cost for engaging with the audience. Audience engagement shouldn’t get in the way of reporting a story.

The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer marked the biggest gap between the public’s trust in government and businesses recorded since 2001 (when Edelman first began conducting the study). One of the biggest reasons for this gap is due to the government’s reliance on a top down communication approach, particularly when it comes to receiving information from world and government leaders. Social activists, on the other hand, have adopted communication strategies that push both indirect and direct messaging with sustained reciprocity. Businesses have taken note and have begun to adopt this model – earning more trust from the public.

If, in fact, life satisfaction is a prerequisite of social trust, what does this say about the future of our jobs, friends, governments, and communities? Huge, multinational companies are taking note that new interactive media allows users to engage in and build social groups online (via our media consumption). Unilever recently encouraged 70 million consumers to sign up for its Project Sunlight campaign and pledge acts of environmental mindfulness. Microsoft’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial and Bing’s Heroic Women of 2013 ad both highlight the veins of social change present in each organization.



 

These are for-profit companies, gaining the trust of their consumers by motivating social change and illuminating the impact they have on the world.


Is there a sweet spot where businesses will adopt the rituals of social change in order to engage consumers? Companies can make more money by doing more good – thus setting the standard of what it looks like to truly interact with a consumer. Will it stick?

Posted by: katieaoreilly | November 19, 2014

Para-social Capital

Conan tweet

Social networks: Where we go to connect, interact, keep in touch. They are a wonderful resource, allowing people to maintain relationships across time and space without in-person interaction. Valenzuela, Park and Kee (2009) say that online interactions encourage individuals to expand and diversify their social circles, thereby increasing their social capital. It leads me to wonder though, is all social capital created equal?

Researchers remain divided on the true impact social networking sites have on users. Our course readings suggest that the impacts are largely positive but others, including author Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone, 2000), worry that decreased in-person interaction actually leads to a decrease in social capital because opting into online communities allows people to become less engaged in physical communities.

Both online and in-person communication offer reciprocity, but it is how these relationships are perceived by SNS users that interests me. When individuals are able to interact with the media they may feel a higher level of closeness to a source, but in reality the relationships formed online can be very one-sided (Hash & McCutcheon, 2001), which is where para-social relationships come into play. Following Conan O’Brien on Twitter gives me a view into his life and the sense that we are closer than we truly are, but what does Conan O’Brien know about me? By expanding my social circle online to include people I will never meet in person, am I really increasing my social capital, or is it just my perception? What am I giving up by staying online?

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