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Locative journalism: recommendations for journalism schools

By Hilary Powell
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Our team of journalism master’s students has had an exciting and thought-provoking experience exploring “locative storytelling” in the New Media Publishing Project class at the Medill School of Journalism.  In previous posts (and our downloadable report) we have provided findings and recommendations for journalists and media companies.  Here are some recommendations for journalism schools:
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1)    Encourage students to experience audio tours. They should participate in audio tours outside the classroom to better understand how locative storytelling works.
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2)    Start geotagging stories in student newsrooms. If your school publishes content online, include geotags so they can be indexed and displayed through map-based (or, in the future, GPS-based) interfaces.
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3)    Emphasize audio skills early. Provide techniques classes and professional equipment.  Encourage students to create audio-based stories as an alternative story requirement or complement to print stories.
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4)    Build up mobile offerings in student newsrooms.  On sites displaying student-published work, offer mobile alerts that people can subscribe to.  This can eventually progress to GPS-triggered storytelling.
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5)    Encourage students to create geography-based stories with an interface other than Google Maps. One example is the MapsAlive authoring platform that lets users make any map interactive.
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6)    Use Twitter or other mobile social networking/microblogging sites to keep student reporters communicating with each other.  If students use Twitter or similar services in their daily lives, they may be more inclined to think of new ways to tell stories using mobile or location-based technologies.
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7)    Increase emphasis on photojournalism. On portable devices, photographs can complement audio effectively when video will not.
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8)    Offer classes in which students innovate and create new forms of journalism, media products and storytelling.  In other words, classes like the one we have just completed.
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9)    Explore partnerships with new location-based services such as Loopt and JotYou.
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10)    Explore partnerships with other schools, such as digital media arts school FlashPoint Academy, to teach media production tools. Students need more hands-on instruction in these tools but this kind of instruction is not necessarily best provided by journalism faculty.
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11)    Seek opportunities for students to interact with people in the industry, such as skills workshops led by media professionals.
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12)    Create continuing education classes for faculty to learn the technological tools and ideas behind innovative, multimedia storytelling.
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