Semantics Aside, Journalism Education Looks Increasingly Collaborative

As the field of journalism philanthropy continues to evolve, a few trends — some obvious, others a bit less so — are coming into focus.

No one disputes the fact that technology continues to disrupt conventional economic models. Just ask Chris Hughes. Yet there's far less consensus around what, exactly, to do about it from an operational perspective. What should the newsroom of 2016 look like?

Recent developments point to an increasing number of outlets gravitating toward what the Knight Foundation calls the "hospital" teaching model. Within this collaborative framework, journalists work with developers, technologies, civic hackers, and data analysts to optimize technology, reach new audiences, and strengthen the journalism community as a whole.

The verbiage may differ, but the desired result is the same. The Guardian U.S., for example, launched a News Innovation Lab with Knight dollars. Simply replace a couple of words, and you get another example of this donor-funded teaching model in action: an "innovation hub," known as the Edith Kinney Gaylord News Innovation Initiative at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation awarded a $800,000 grant to fund the initiative, which will act as the "innovation hub" for Cronkite News, an Arizona PBS daily news division consisting of 15 full-time editor/professors and more than 120 ASU students who produce daily news content on TV and digital platforms for Arizona audiences.

So outlets like The Guardian and the Cronkite School have collaborative centers where journalists and students can create new approaches to deliver news and information using emerging technology. That's cool. But a more important question to ask, from our vantage point, is how do they do it? The answer to this question could reveal how the field's best and brightest expect the future to unfold.

In the case of Cronkite's Edith Kinney Gaylord News Innovation Initiative we have some faint outlines of a strategy. While still in its nascent stages, it looks as if the initiative will focus on four key digital-related components: social media, data analytics, audience engagement, and collaboration with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. (And although crowdfunding wasn't specifically mentioned in the press release for this grant, recent news suggests the Cronkite School is particularly adroit in this area as well.)

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation also awarded the Cronkite School a $150,000 grant over three years to continue hosting an Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics. The visiting professorship annually brings a journalism leader to Cronkite to teach ethics and diversity.

See more articles by Mike Scutari.