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Looking to Drake (and others) for help invigorating newsrooms

Journos often lean on Pulitzer Prize winners, seasoned editors and even Silicon Valley entrepreneurs for inspiration when it comes to re-invigorating their craft.

The University of Southern California’s Robert Hernandez used a slightly different approach, however, when he took center stage as part of Newsgeist’s most recent Ignite sessions, invoking a different communicator to get his message across.

Hernandez’s discussion, entitled “What journalists can learn from Drake,” was set to the music of the Canadian-born rapper, and was one of many engaging sessions all posted online here.

“Should we give up? No, no, no,” Hernandez said while pointing to a New Yorker cartoon of a group of people sitting in a boardroom. “The internet, even though it’s a struggle, we have accomplishments there. This whole idea of ‘we need to rethink our strategy of hoping the internet is going away’ did not work out, right?

“We have to do social media, we have to engage, but we can’t just follow tweets and likes. We’ve gotta do more than just make news so people can tweet about it, right? We’ve got to do something of substance, we have a role to do, to serve our community.”

A total of 15 videos were posted by Harvard’s Nieman Lab, as some of digital media’s key practitioners spoke about journalism’s future and the importance of embracing new ideas within the industry.

The five-minute videos covered a range of topics, from the value of continuing education for journalists to the Internet’s takedown of the traditional mass media business model, and were kept fast and fun due to Ignite’s presentation rules: each speaker gets just 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds.

Presenters came from both academia, like Maryanne Reed of West Virginia University, who spoke about her school’s approach to inspiring both instructors and students, and newsrooms, like the Seattle Times’ Sharon Chan, who stressed the importance of always looking for solutions to problems through a fresh set of eyes.

Hernandez added there’s a bright future for those willing to adapt.

“The golden journalism age of journalism was not golden for the majority of us,” he said. “I’m glad the journalism industry got disrupted, even though we had a lot of revenue, but a lot of voices were left out. And technology gave voice to the voiceless.”


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