Staying current: Reverse mentoring might help

Journalism Interactive is a conference that brings together scholars, professionals, teachers and students to discuss the constantly changing tools, techniques and issues of journalism education and journalism. The Online News Association Educators Group has a Facebook page with several hundred members. Nieman Journalism Lab and PBS MediaShift  cover digital education issues. and others try to stay abreast of industry trends. Even journalism history changes as the beginnings of the digital age are recorded in projects such as Riptide by the Shorenstein Center.

Where else can a journalism educator go to stay current? Perhaps your class can help answer that.

Activities at three levels:

Flashlight: Start with a refresher. Show the class this social media history poster.  Ask the students: How much of this media do they know how to use? What would they like to learn? What has happened since 2012, when the poster’s story ends? What are journalistic uses of social media? What do they think of assignments that require the use of social media?

Spotlight: The American Society of News Editors, Reuters, The Associated Press and many others have social media guidelines. Ask students to review them. Does your university have any guidelines when it comes to student use of social media for assignments? Does your student media have them? What do your students think they should say?

Searchlight: Note the ASNE guidelines above, from 2010, say breaking news should not go out via Twitter but instead should be posted on a news organization’s web site. Given how the Boston Marathon bombing news started in social media, is that idea already out of date? Knight vice president Michael Maness puts it this way: “The threads are now just as important as the cloth.” Ask students: Is he right? What should student media at your campus be doing differently?

Extra credit: This interesting student journalism piece, 100 Gallons, from the University of North Carolina, was a finalist for a national Emmy. In what ways is it traditional and in what ways is it new? Consider design, story form, community engagement and impact. If you were a researcher, what would you hope to learn from this experiment? Think about your own classes and student media at your campus. What experiments make sense, and what would you want to learn?