Journalistic Brainstorming: What Don’t We Know

We kicked off the fall semester of Public Affairs Reporting for New Media at UNC yesterday by brainstorming in 10 minutes at least 50 questions that we were going to need to answer in order to create a new “Everyblock”-style community information database for small newspapers.

It’s a great example of how the design thinking school of innovation intersects well with the world of journalism. Good reporters should always be asking themselves “What don’t I know about this?” And great reporters take that question to a diverse group of collaborators and ask “What don’t we know about this?”

Here’s what my students and I don’t know:
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How to Teach ‘Multitasking’ to Journalism Students

When Ying Du and I presented our paper at AEJMC last month, we noted that “multitasking” was a critical skill that is needed in online newsrooms, but not being taught in journalism schools. That brought up a challenging question: How exactly do you teach multitasking in an environment that is all about training students to focus on one subject at a time?

I’ve haven’t tried these, but I wanted to suggest a couple of adaptations to the time-honored tradition of having students write a story from a fact sheet. These might simulate the experience of a “multitasking newsroom.”
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