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Feb 11 / King Kaufman

Some important points about digital media and journalism education

Daniel Reimold of College Media Matters spent the weekend “somewhat” live-blogging Journalism Interactive 2013, “the conference on journalism education and digital media.”

He endeavored “to accrue 100 practical and inspiring tips, tools, links, quotes, and anecdotes” from the conference, held at a theater called the Hippodrome in Gainesville, Fla. And he succeeded.

Judging from Reimold’s 100 points, journalists as coders and data journalism were the hot topics at the conference. Data journalism—here’s a good definition from “The Data Journalism Handbook”—is in many ways a natural in coverage of sports, not just in terms of the massive amounts of data the games produce but also the off-field issues, many of which have to do with economics, medicine and other data-heavy disciplines.

One of Reimold’s points illustrates that, because it uses a sports example:

When dealing with data, sometimes even sheer accuracy is inaccurate. For example, [New York Times interactive news developer Derek] Willis mentioned the payroll of a past Chicago Bulls team–so star-heavy that the top players earned absurdly high salaries while the rest of the team were playing for low, low, low figures. When calculating it all and providing the team average, it of course fell somewhere in the middle of the stars and the rest. BUT that average did not even come close to representing anyone on the team. It was statistically correct, but not accurate.

A few other observations worth thinking about:

Placeblogger’s Lisa Williams rocked the Hippodrome yesterday talking big picture digital. In a follow-up resources blog post she tweeted under the conference hashtag, she advised, “The web rewards ‘narrow comprehensiveness,’ or ‘everything about something.’ A site with a few restaurant reviews is nice; a site with all of them is Yelp. What will you corner the market on, however small, or for however short a time?”

Two resources being bandied about: Codecademy (“the easiest way to learn how to code”) and (“an online learning company that helps anyone learn software, design, and business skills”).

And a couple of eye-opening points about mobile:

Devices we think of as mobile are increasingly domestic.  According to stats cited by [Matt Boggie, director of technology strategy for The New York Times Research & Development Lab], 60 percent of people’s smartphone use and 79 percent of their tablet use occurs at home.


Another interesting stat: 45 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 use their mobile phones as their primary device for Internet access.  Think about that for a second. Are laptops that passé? Are tablets still too expensive? Is mobile Internet use upstaging actual phone calls, texting, and app fun?