September 2010 Archives

The HawkEye's inaugural blogs

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Beginning tonight -- Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010 -- The HawkEye online newspaper [] inaugurates its blog department. The first bloggers to publish on the site will be students in the JRNL 281/Online Journalism course at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

According to the university's Under...graduate Catalog, this course is "offered on an experimental or temporary basis to
explore topics not included in the established curriculum." This course's topic is timely. The medium of print newspapers -- the model for much of IUP's "established" journalism curriculum -- is attempting to evolve in one generation amid a climate change that is likely to swamp many among the dead-tree medium. Who knows what's next? Several recent journalism textbook authors say digital, that's where journalism is heading.

Thus, this experiment in collaborative learning at IUP. I can teach students a thing or two about traditional journalism, the way it was practiced (for better for worse) for the past 175 years in this country. (I spent about 25 years writing, reporting and editing for print news media.) My instruction is paired with that of Mark Briggs, author of Online Journalism, published by CQ Press, our textbook.

Briggs advocates use of social media (such as Facebook) as tools for new journalists. It looks promising to me, from a distance. My students are Facebook-friendly. I'm a newcomer, and skeptical, although the benefits of social media in news reporting are intriguing and promising.

Briggs' text also is a useful how-to for other digital tools of the Info Age that are familiar to students. For example, 80 percent of JRNL 281 students use smart phones that include still-photo, video, audio and text capabilities, thus enabling them to be mobile journalists -- MoJo. That's potentially powerful.

The deal in JRNL 281 is this: Students will coach me in use of the media they know intimately -- social media, smart phones. And I will coach them in doing the journalism that will lead us both into the brave news world of next-generation journalism.

As with the rest of the content of The HawkEye, we expect the result to benefit the readers of The HawkEye. And we hope the relationship between the contributors to The HawkEye (including its new bloggers) and the people formerly known as the audience will help us form a new community -- actual, virtual, interactive and collaborative.

Dave Loomis
assistant professor
Journalism Department
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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