I remember being a young education student who was transitioning from broadcasting in to the world of academics and wondering what the heck was 20 cents going to do to change anything. Ha-Ha.
But seriously, the media world – broadcast journalism, newspapers, TV, magazines, radio, etc. is undergoing radical change. We are already in it – deep. Yet few want to recognize it. It is too late. As the educators of kids who may go into the media fields some day – we need to be up on the latest trends and should be helping to push these kids in the direction that the industry is going.
Too often we are as much to blame as anyone for not embracing the new technology of media as anyone. If you haven’t already started making the changes, now is the time. Honestly, it is not that hard and some of it will even make your life easier and more fun.
Here are a dozen or so things you need to do to get ahead of the media shift:
1. Stop investing in the old.
If you aren’t moving towards the 21st Century, you are only holding your students back. Get rid of your darkroom, no one except art photographers uses one anymore. Pack up the film cameras and get DSLRs. Stop printing your newspaper – save yourself tons of money and go online. If your student body is going to read it, they will read it online or nowhere. Move your yearbook sales online as much as possible. And go 100 percent digital with your book. It should be laid out in InDesign with all digital photos. Put your broadcast online too with either Quicktime or some other equivalent format.
2. Go Internet – all out!
See number 1 first, but add online slide shows to your newspaper site, page previews of your yearbook in low res, newspaper blogs in the opinion section, audio podcasts, etc. Today it is all about rich media.
3. Invest in the new
Upgrade all your old computers, buy new video and digital cameras. Update your software and plugins. Stay as current as your budget will allow you. You can’t afford to get behind. Catching up will be too costly later.
4. Find your audience
You must know who views your media and what they want to see. If you don’t know who they are, then you have no idea how to serve them.
5. Give the audience what they want
Within the confines of legality and reasonableness, stop confining yourself to the old notions of what is “news.” Whether we like it or not, viewers are often attracted to our products for things that are not news. We need to recognize that and use it to draw viewers into our news products. Stop being afraid to do something with a little entertainment value.
6. Give the audience what they can’t get anywhere else.
Exclusive photos, interviews and video of places they can’t go. Go backstage at the drama play, in the locker room, on the sidelines, with extra closeups. Today everyone has a digital camera and maybe a video camera too. They often carry it with them on their phone. Give them content they can’t get.
7. Pay for it with ads, not paywalls
If your content is online, keep it free. Only charge for items they can touch and take with them. If you don’t understand it, then read “Why Free is the Future of Business” in Wired Magazine. Read it until you believe it or understand it.
8. Link to others.
Just like I did in the previous entry. Linking to others will get you”ping backs” or additional readers that you never knew were out there. Your content is now on the world wide web – no longer just accessible by your students, but the entire world. Why not show them the way by linking to related content in an intelligent way. Don’t just linkbait, use pingbacks correctly.
9. Be disruptive
Don’t be a follower, be a leader. I know this is hard in the world of academics. But in the media world, you can’t wait until every high school in your state has an online newspaper before you give up the printed edition. Make waves. Be the first school in your area to do something new with media. Be the cool kids. It will draw positive attention to your program, your website and bring in the kids.
10. Link to your self.
Stop thinking of your broadcast, newspaper, yearbook, web design, etc as different programs. You are all one big media family. Because that is how it will be in the future. Get used to it now. Link to related content that your own kids did.
11. Get social
This may be the hardest thing to do. But establish a face for your program on Myspace, Facebook, Digg, Linkdin, etc. Unless your district prohibits it. Of course you will need to moderate all comments and content, but it is worth it to be where your audience is.
12. Partner Up
Be willing to work with others. At our school we put the Culinary Arts Restaurant’s Menu on the web page, we run the Robotics Team’s web page, we help produce the dance team’s final show. It all helps us hone our skills and gets us involved with other aspects of our campus.
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