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Apr 22 / King Kaufman

Florida J-school’s Bennett: Future is bright, and data-driven

Randy Bennett of the University of Florida writes in the Huffington Post that “the future of media and journalism is really bright.” He reached that conclusion after he “attended two disparate conferences that shunned hype and hyperbole (and despair), and provided a decidedly forward-looking and practical perspective.”

Bennett is the director of entrepreneurship and partnerships at Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, and the conferences he attended were AmericaEast and Journalism Interactive. He identified several themes as emerging from the events, and if he’s right, those of us who still have some productive years ahead of us in this racket ought to listen up.

You should click through to read Bennett’s commentary on each of these items, but here are his themes:

  • Data will be at the core of everything media companies do going forward.
  • The future is visual.
  • Community engagement is critical to business and journalistic success.
  • Embrace technology to solve problems — for media organizations and their customers.
  • Entrepreneurism needs to be the lifeblood of media organizations and the oxygen for journalists.

Bennet places special emphasis on that last one:

Those who ponder whether media companies should become technology companies or if journalists should develop programming skills are asking the wrong questions. The technology platforms and expertise are the easy part. What’s hard is for media managers and journalists to develop the technological proficiency to think differently and creatively about what is possible …

The takeaways from both events are not about the relative health of media companies or the importance of journalism degrees. Rather, it’s about tangible evidence that there are innovators in our midst who are passionately committed to changing the paradigm.

When I mentioned Bennett’s first theme to a co-worker, that data will be at the core of everything media companies do going forward, my co-worker said, “So we’re all going to become statisticians.” A reasonable response, or worry.

“On the journalism side,” Bennett writes, “deep data sets and sophisticated (and often free) analytical tools will advance investigative reporting; real-time analytics will impact decisions on headlines, article form and content, distribution, platform effectiveness and story placement.”

I’d say that doesn’t mean we’re all going to have to be statisticians, but that being comfortable with stats, with handling data, understanding it, being able to tease truth out of it and tell stories with it, is going to be an increasingly important set of skills. We didn’t all have to become computer experts when computers replaced typewriters 30 years ago, but anyone who wasn’t at least comfortable working on a computer got left behind.

  • Pixie Solanas

    blah blah blah. Whatever.