A renaissance in the reinvention of news

Richard Gingras, the head of Google News, said to journalism and mass communication educators in a 2012 speech:

"...With great technological change comes great opportunity. […] the Internet has the ability to provide support for any opinion, any belief, any fear and give it greater volume. […] Our societys need for credible journalistic knowledge and wisdom has never been greater. […] In fact, I believe we are at the beginnings of a renaissance in the exploration and re-invention of how news is gathered, expressed, and engaged with. But the success of journalism’s future can only be assured to the extent that each and every person in this room helps generate the excitement, the passion, and the creativity to make it so...."

Student discussion questions at three levels:

Flashlight: Richard Gingras builds on the ideas of media scholar Marshall McLuhan when he argues that technology and content are related. What does Google bring to the table as a technological innovator? How does it help or harm journalism? In contrast, consider “long-form” journalism -- lengthy stories or documentaries – in light of the popularity of tablets. Look at the New York Times’ Snowfall story, and examine what techniques are being used. What does this story suggest about the future of “long-form” journalism?

Spotlight: Gingras says new technology creates opportunity and responsibility. More journalism today involves the collection, verification and packaging of large amounts of data. Sources include government data sets, sensors that measure data in real time. Drones can be as simple as a plastic helicopter or as complex as a solar-powered miniature military spy plane. In journalism, they are used to collect information, capture video and take pictures. Check out the University of Nebraska lab and consider the types of opportunity offered by drone journalism. Even the homepage has changed drastically. What forms of responsibility should we think about?

Searchlight: The journalism education report by the New America Foundation says “Journalism programs must be thought of and begin to think of themselves as more than simply just the teachers and trainers of journalists, but rather as the anchor-institutions involved in the production of community-relevant news that will benefit the entire local news ecosystem.” Do any of the school programs in the report live up to that aspiration? If so, pick one and explain why. If not, where do they fall short?