4 books for summer innovation inspiration

By Sarah Darby

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Hello, ONA Mizzou community! My name is Sarah Darby, and I am the incoming  president of ONA Mizzou. I am extremely excited to help plan another year of digital media training and networking events for Mizzou students.

ONA Mizzou has always promoted the intersection of journalism and technology, as we believe the future of journalism will rely on the convergence of these fields. As the business models for journalism continue to change, innovation and entrepreneurship are also affecting journalism in new ways. Journalists are being asked to not only write a story, but also target an audience, grow a social media presence and collaborate with the marketing team. Over the next school year, ONA Mizzou will continue to offer digital media training events, but we will also begin to challenge students to think entrepreneurially through our events. 

This summer, I challenge you to find your inner entrepreneur. Summer is a great time to expand the skills in your journalism toolbox, and these four books will challenge you to think like an innovator in your summer internship, job and beyond.

1. For the social media guru - "Contagious: Why Things Catch On" by Jonah Berger

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Last spring, digital media strategist Amy Webb shared a summer syllabus for journalism professors at the 2014 Journalism Interactive conference. The syllabus contains a weekly to-do list for professors and students alike who are interested in learning more about the intersection of journalism and technology. "Contagious" (and the following two books) are at the top of Webb's list of recommended reads. 

"Contagious" is written by Wharton Business School professor Jonah Berger who explores questions like, "Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?" Berger has spent years researching these topics, and has studied why certain New York Times articles are highly sharable. 

This book is a great read for any aspiring social media strategist. Bonus points if you watch the video recording of the Journalism Interactive viral content panel the week you read "Contagious." 

2. For the aspiring innovator  - "The Art of Innovation" by Tom Kelley

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IDEO is often considered one of the most innovative companies in the world, and is responsible for cutting-edge products like the Apple mouse and Polaroid I-Zone camera. 

"The Art of Innovation" by IDEO's general manager Tom Kelley, offers an inside look at how the company comes up with award-winning ideas again and again. The book emphasizes that innovation is a way of life, and that great ideas come from a company culture that promotes idea generation and creativity.

Not every journalist will be in charge of creating new products and ideas for a media organization, but more journalists will be asked to engage audiences in new and innovative ways. "The Art of Innovation" is a helpful introduction to any journalist who hopes to enhance and grow the audience of a digital media company or digital team.

3. For the media startup connoisseur  - "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz

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Starting a new venture of your own or within a company isn't easy. As author Ben Horowitz's book title says, creating a successful business or media venture does not have any easy answers. Horowitz draws on years of experience as a venture capitalist and president of a very successful technology company to share the challenges of running a business.

Even if you're not looking to found a new media company any time soon, "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" is a insightful introduction to the technology and startup world. This read will help you understand how the outside world of business impacts the media industry today, and how the speed of technology and change will impact news organizations in the future.

4. For the undergraduate researcher  - "All In Startup" by Diana Kander

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If you're looking to take innovation from a concept to reality, "All In Startup" by local entrepreneur Diana Kander is good place to start. Kander has years of experience as a successful entrepreneur, Kauffman Foundation fellow and most-recently Mizzou professor. "All in Startup" emphasizes the importance of customers and walks readers through a formula for startup success in an engaging novel format.

After a summer of innovation reading, students can apply their knowledge in one of two graduate-level classes taught by Kander. For undergraduates, the Entrepreneurship Alliance, a class and organization, offers an application-based introduction to entrepreneurship. If you still can't get enough of innovation, the annual Columbia Startup Weekend competition allows participants to create and pitch a business idea in 54 hours every fall.

This summer reading list is just a starting place for innovative thinking, but hopefully your reading will inspire you in your internship or job this summer. Happy reading, and I look forward to innovating with you next fall!

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