Seeing what’s possible for journalism

Posted on September 03, 2010 by Janet Coats

Here is what I love about journalism students: They see incredible possibilities.

The last few years have been ragged, at best, for mid-career journalists working in traditional newsrooms. Those who didn’t lose their jobs in round after devastating round of layoffs were left behind in newsrooms to try to pick up the pieces and create a future.

That’s hard work, some might argue almost impossible work. It is difficult to imagine a future when you are sitting in the ruins of the past.

Journalism students don’t carry that baggage. They see the excitement of possibility.

I’m at the University of Missouri School of Journalism this week, talking to students who aren’t waiting for the future to be revealed. They are working at the task of creating it.

Thursday morning, I had breakfast with J-School seniors Adam Falk and Evan Bush. Adam and Evan have invented their own course for this academic year, bringing together students from across all the journalism school’s programs to work together on a multimedia project.

These guys are scary smart. And what I loved best about talking to them is that they didn’t sit around passively waiting for someone to provide them with the experience they need to succeed as journalists. They identified what they needed, and they made it happen.

Even better, they are thinking not just about producing a multimedia project, they are thinking about how the dozen students working together on it will teach each other.

When I outlined the project I’m working on – an innovators’ network we’re calling the Journalism Accelerator – they immediately started discussing how they’d using it. An idea that my project partner Lisa Skube and I have been bouncing between us all summer suddenly started to come to life for me. Evan and Adam saw the value in connecting with others who are creating the future of journalism to share ideas, to work on common problems, to celebrate and give momentum to success. And they talked about ways of using it that really hadn’t occurred to me.

And that’s what I love about journalism students: They open my eyes to the possibilities.

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