A cohort of 16 journalism students completed the requirements of the Grady College’s Mobile News Lab during Spring 2015, which was the first time this special topics course was offered for credit.
The Mobile News Lab in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is sponsored by the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership. It was launched as a non-credit pilot project in Fall 2014 for students to research and experiment with newsgathering techniques designed specifically for smartphones and tablets.
The Spring 2015 class worked in an experiential learning mode that included a news content curation project with CNN and a social media content project with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The students also experimented with a variety of content creation tools and platforms including Scribble Live, Storehouse, Microsoft’s Sway, Tumblr, Medium, Mobile WordPress and Videolicious.
“The Grady Mobile News Lab was very different from any other course I’ve taken at UGA,” said participant Mary Elizabeth Knight. “The opportunities we were given to collaborate with CNN and the AJC made the class feel more like an internship and allowed me to gain valuable reporting and social media skills.”
Maya Clark, also a participant, said millennial journalists may be more comfortable using mobile technology than other generations, but added that training such as the Grady Mobile News Lab is needed to strengthen mobile skills specifically related to news reporting and production. “This internship-like class is very hands-on and great to talk about during interviews,” she said.
In addition to Knight and Clark, the class included: Evelyn Andrews, Samuel Darby, Kayla Janas, Shakera Lewis, John McFadden, Nicholas Murphy, Justin Patton, Andrew Plaskowsky, Carly Ralston, Kathryn Roberts, Catherine Schmitt, Joshua Wakefield, Eli Watkins and Taylor West.
“News organizations are getting most of their audience through smartphones and tablets, but optimizing news content for a mobile experience is still a work in progress,” said Keith Herndon, visiting professor of journalism who coordinates the Mobile News Lab. “We call this a lab for a reason. The students experimented with a variety of tools and presentation concepts. Some worked and some didn’t, but by the end of the semester all of them understood that mobile is unique and requires tools and processes optimized for those devices.”
Herndon is teaching the Mobile News Lab as a 2015 Maymester with another cohort of students who will benefit from the experiences of the previous lab cohorts. “However, the content tools are evolving rapidly, so this next group will be working with projects that are entirely new,” he said.
Grady College faculty members Mark Johnson, senior lecturer, and Bartosz Wojdynski, assistant professor, are also working with the Mobile News Lab students. Louis Gump, former CEO of LSN Mobile and a mobile pioneer at CNN and The Weather Channel, chairs an industry advisory group that has helped develop the Mobile News Lab.
For more information, contact Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-542-7576.