Disruption sows seeds of opportunity

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 3.21.31 PMWe celebrated the CMI’s one-year anniversary by focusing on #MediaPioneers who are doing something truly new and different. The disruption that has run through the media industry has caused a lot of pain and caused all of us to rethink how we value news and access it. But it also has created opportunities that never existed before. For my latest media column, I focused on some of these people who are doing truly exciting work – and starting figure out ways to pay their bills.

 

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Frank Murgia, executive producer at the Pittsburgh Podcast Network, discusses the YaJagoff podcast and how it’s starting to make money.

“YaJagoff” can express exasperation or endearment, as any Pittsburgher knows. But John Chamberlin also sees it as his brand.

He hosts the YaJagoff Podcast , and as the name implies, he focuses on all things “yinzer,” from pierogies to basement potties. It is one of five core offerings from the Pittsburgh Podcast Network, which has started making money in its fourth year, executive producer Frank Murgia recently told me.

“It finally feels like it’s a real thing and we’re starting to see opportunities,” he said.

Recent years’ disruption that has shaken news companies also has produced media pioneers. Large outlets are becoming nimble by experimenting with innovative platforms and content. Startups are redefining the industry with concepts no one has tried. This energy creates opportunities for older journalists seeking to rediscover the craft and for students who want to engage in storytelling and try something new. Read more…

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AmyJo Brown, founding editor of new media startup Grant’s Hill, talks about her business plan.

 

 

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It’s a small world … on my iPhone

Photo by Tania Conte.

Getting away used to be so easy. But in a world where even forest monks carry smartphones tucked inside their saffron-colored robes, it can be hard to get off the grid. My latest column looks at this phenomenon from the perspective of a recent trip to Thailand.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — I’ve been checking my emails here only once a day, like it’s the 1990s all over again.

For many Americans, a great part of traveling in Asia is not receiving any messages during the day because almost everyone you know — halfway around the world, back home — is asleep. I wake up, read the overnight messages and forget about email. If only this could last.

Even that disconnected luxury goes only so far when almost half the world’s population accesses the internet , and even forest monks at a remote mountain temple carry smartphones tucked into their saffron-colored robes. Along a narrow canal an hour outside of Bangkok, we passed a small wooden shack with open-air windows — and a 60-inch TV mounted inside the front door. Neighbors had sealed up their homes and installed air conditioners.

Everyone, it seems, hungers for the same cutting-edge technology, instant connectivity and modern convenience. That drive holds exciting promise for bringing us together, and perhaps a little danger for our demands on the planet as well. Read more…

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood: Mr. McFeely

Nice surprise to meet David Newell, aka Mr. McFeely, in the CMI today. He’s here for Steve Cuden’s StoryBeat podcast. In real life, of course, he looks totally different than on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sounds the same though. You can’t hear it here but he was giving me a, “Speedy delivery!”

Is it getting faster in here?

Kids have no idea! That’s the theme of my latest column. I spent some time thinking about how much work it used to take to make a video. Now Facebook (or Google, Videolicious, Snapchat, etc.) does all of the heavy lifting so we can focus on being creative. That already means that we see so much more content – and higher quality videos too. Hope you enjoy…

Just for fun, I recently created a video of my beach vacation, posted it to Facebook and shared it with the world.

The entire production process took about 30 seconds and I reached hundreds of my “friends” online.

Doing the same thing 20 years ago, when I was in journalism school, would have taken far longer, moving images from one analog tape to another with a large and expensive editing bay. Sharing my work with the world? Almost impossible.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this summer , it’s worth taking some time to reflect on how quickly our world keeps changing — and considering whether we’re capable of keeping up. Read more…

Business of journalism

Journalism is a business. That always has been true (as a reader reminded me this week) but disruption in the industry has changed the way that journalists must think about their jobs. On a recent visit to Boston, I caught up with a friend working at the Boston Globe’s new spinoff, Stat News, and I met with Josh Benton at Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. Both talked about the need for reporters to be aware of their company’s bottom line. That used to be taboo. My latest column looks at the changes taking place…

The experiment should have been a disaster: Take 15 advanced journalism students and challenge them to spend a semester thinking about money, spreadsheets, marketing ideas and business plans. But it wasn’t.

A decade ago, it would have been heretical for journalists to think about making money. Today, that thinking has become essential for media businesses to survive — and for creative people to support themselves.

After seeing journalists forced reluctantly into becoming entrepreneurs, I ran the experiment at Point Park University this spring. We talk often about using technology to tell stories in innovative ways, but young journalists — especially — also must think creatively about selling their ideas. Read more…

Modern storytelling where coal was king

Worried about the future of storytelling? Take a trip down to Connellsville. Yes, that Connellsville. The kids there are onto something great with the help of their pioneering teachers. They are pushing hard into the future – and they’re taking the whole school with them. I recently visited and wrote my latest media column based on the experience. Check it out…

Ask Jacob Kern about healthy eating, and the Connellsville High School junior can drop lines to a rap song about chasing water rather than soda or trans fats.

He wrote the lyrics and recorded them for his health class. Students here have created thousands of media projects this school year on everything from the laws of physics to the Spanish-American War.

Kern, 17, a media intern at the school, said the unconventional assignment helped him understand the material: “I like it a lot more than the traditional reading books. It’s stuck in my head.”

While media innovators largely focus on the latest social trends and tools for communicating to the masses, cutting-edge educators are driving their own classroom revolution with new digital tools — video, audio recordings, the internet and more. Technology is “relevant to their life,” Justin Aglio, Montour School District director of innovation , told me. “Students will engage things that are relevant to them.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/12329357-74/digital-tools-connect-with-tech-savvy-students

Back to school!

I have been heading back to elementary school recently to talk about Roberto Clemente. Students at Mt. Lebanon’s Foster Elementary and Ligonier Valley’s R.K. Mellon Elementary have been so awesome. It’s a testament to the teachers that the students are so enthusiastic about writing! Gives me hope for the future.

If anyone else is interested in having me speak with their students, let me know: andrew.c.conte@gmail.com.