Study shows Facebook leads in news views

By Hannah Schmidt
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons
My Twitter feed is filled with news organizations, from The Huffington Post to CNN to BBC News. And whenever I find an interesting story, my first instinct is to retweet the link. But a new Pew Research Center study shows it might be time I start sharing articles on Facebook, too.

Sixty four percent of U.S. adults, with an adult classified as a user 18 years or older, use Facebook. Nearly half of these users view news from the site. These numbers should encourage news organizations to invest in building a stronger Facebook presence to gain more attention from this demographic.

5 Social media lessons we learned from Brian Stelter

By Bridgit Bowden
ONA Mizzou Exec Board with Brian Stelter.
Photo by Laura Davison
Last week, ONA Mizzou brought New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter to Mizzou to speak to students.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, Stelter gave a lecture on digital identity and online entrepreneurship.  One of the topics he talked about most was how journalists should use social media.

We used the hashtag #StelterONA to keep up with the online discussion during his talk.  Here are 5 social media lessons we took away and tweets from people who got to hear his lecture.

Live event blog: New York Times' Brian Stelter discusses digital identity

By Cole Kennedy
We're here and about to get going in Fisher Auditorium (Gannett 088). The ONA Mizzou student leaders are very excited to present Brian Stelter of the New York Times to discuss Digital Identity and Online Entrepreneurship, and how his blog, TV Newser, ended up landing him a job at the Times.

Our sincere thanks must also go to Randy Smith, the Donald W. Reynolds Chair in Business Journalism, and the entire Missouri Business Journalism Association, without whom this event would not be possible.

We have a hashtag for the event if you're following along on Twitter - make sure to add #StelterONA to your tweets from the event! And if you've got a question, send it along to @ONAMizzou and we'll do our best to ask Mr. Stelter.

Event Alert: New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter to discuss digital identity

By Andrew Gibson
Photo used with permission
from Brian Stelter
Journalism professors often say running a successful blog can lead to a full-time reporting job. ONA Mizzou and the Mizzou Business Journalism Association are bringing living proof to campus.

Join us as New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter shares how he turned his blog TVNewser, a hub for news about TV journalism, into a full-time job at the paper right after graduating from college. Featured in the True/False documentary “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” Stelter will give tips on maximizing digital identity to impress future employers.

7 p.m., Nov. 5

Fisher Auditorium (88 Gannett Hall)

Free and open to the public

Five takeaways from ONA 2013 for students

By Elise Schmelzer
The student newsroom at ONA13.
Photo courtesy of Laura Davison.
For some, this weekend was filled with tailgating and college football. Others spent the weekend in Atlanta learning about the future of digital journalism at the Online News Association's annual conference.

Laura Davison, an MU graduate student and former secretary of ONA Mizzou, was selected to work in the conference's student newsroom. Along with 19 other students, she spent the weekend recording the conference through blog posts, tweets and videos. From what they've collected, here are five ideas from the conference that students can apply to their own work.

NewsZou: A new student-produced site on trends and tools for journalists

By Hannah Schmidt
Photo credit:
Journalism assistant professor and interactive director of KOMU-TV Annie Hammock has created NewsZou, a website to discuss digital tools and trends in the journalism industry. 

She started the site for her radio-television journalism course, Advanced Internet Applications, to teach students about blogging.

"The process gives students a chance to dive into the digital journalism industry to learn about trends and tools while they're practicing blogging," Hammock said.

5 questions to ask before applying for journalism internships

By Bridgit Bowden
Photo credit: photologue_np/Flickr
It's time to start thinking about summer internships. Starting the process can be overwhelming, but planning ahead can help you breeze through your applications.

Last year, I applied to more than 10 internships. For me, the process was stressful because I didn't think through all the details before sending applications. If I had planned more, I would have been able to narrow my options, spend more time on each application and manage my stress.  It's important to know what you're looking for in an internship before you go through the often time-consuming process of applying.      

Here are five questions to ask before you start sending your resume left and right. Hopefully, it'll make the process easier.

Live event blog: Picking the right journalism school path

By Cole Kennedy
We've got a crowded room here at 110 Lee Hills Hall (the Missourian building), but there are still plenty of seats for any latecomers. Hope to see some more underclassmen here to learn more about the options they have in the journalism school!

Amy Bruer, an undergraduate adviser, says not to get bogged down by all of the options - a lot of times, you'll end up figuring it out as you go. Also, the journalism school makes sure all students get a taste of multimedia reporting, because no matter what sequence you're in, you'll likely end up working in a multimedia environment.

Should a student elect for Strategic Communications, they have the option to choose between three newsrooms: Mojo Ad, AdZou, and Yaya Connection. They all have different environments, catered toward different emphasis areas and student strengths.

ONA Mizzou event: Picking the right journalism school track for you

By Andrew Gibson
Photo credit: Clyde Bentley/Flickr
I started at MU dreaming of becoming an ink-on-paper politics reporter. Yeah, I wanted to chase presidential candidates around the country. And maybe have an occasional appearance alongside Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Then, not five months later, I started leaning toward magazine journalism. It sounded more relaxed than government reporting, and the thought of scrutinizing reader-submitted poetry in the New Yorker newsroom had me feeling fancy.

Finally, I settled on the multimedia glory of convergence -- but not before first going through a phase of broadcast infatuation.

What I'm getting at is: Picking the right track in the journalism school can be difficult. Not only do you have more than 30 to pick from, but you'll also be surprised by how much your interests change in just a few months. Plus, it's possible your envisioned career path doesn't pair best with the emphasis area you have in mind.

Although we can't make the decision for you, we can offer help. Join ONA Mizzou at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, as we host a panel of students and academic adviser Amy Bruer for a question-and-answer session on journalism school emphasis areas. They'll explain what to expect from course work and give you the lowdown on the culture of each newsroom or advertising agency. The event location is 110 Lee Hills Hall (that's the Columbia Missourian building).

If you have questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment here, email us or tweet us @ONAMizzou.

Live event blog: Online portfolio workshop

By Cole Kennedy
We're just about ready to start here in 110 Lee Hills Hall (the Missourian building, in the basement) with Rob Weir, the director of digital development of the Columbia Missourian, Vivian Abagiu, the photo editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune, and Annie Hammock, the interactive director at KOMU-TV.

Annie Hammock (@anniehammock) is up first, talking about whether or not students need to learn to code. She crowdsourced the question and got some great feedback, which you can see here.

Derek Wills (@derekwillis), from the New York Times, says that students should build it themselves if they're able, but to keep it simple.

Students should look at building their portfolio as an opportunity to learn or brush up on their HTML skills.

Millions of people can build a portfolio with Weebly, Wix, etc. - set yourself apart by showing that you can work outside of those drag-and-drop ecosystems.

The most important point, from Will Haynes (@willhaynes) - forget the medium if there's no good content.

ONA Mizzou event: Building an online portfolio

By Elise Schmelzer
Although our generation is known as digital natives, many students cower at the idea of creating and updating an online portfolio. It may seem like a daunting task, but a site that collects all of your work and presents it clearly is an invaluable tool, especially in an age when prospective employees are often Google-searched before they're ever offered an interview.

There are many questions you might be asking yourself. How much personal information should I put on my portfolio? Should it function like a blog or should I use a static layout? How can I incorporate social media into my site?

Get the answers to your questions at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 in 110 Lee Hills Hall, when ONA Mizzou hosts a panel of local journalists to discuss digital portfolios. 

Eight ways students can get started on LinkedIn

By Hannah Schmidt
Credit: LinkedIn
In an age where Twitter and Facebook dominate the social networking scene among young people, many students have ignored LinkedIn. They see it as a place for established professionals, not 20-something job seekers.

Here's some advice: Don't be one of those people.

LinkedIn is a gateway into the professional world. When you update your profile with internships completed, skills learned and degrees earned, you expose yourself to thousands of employers. It's not difficult and it doesn't take long -- but your profile won't fill out itself. Below are eight tips I've learned from professors and from a tutorial given by a LinkedIn employee that I've incorporated into my own profile. 

Building an online journalism portfolio: Where to start?

By Bridgit Bowden
A screen shot of my portfolio, made using Wix free version.
Employers today will likely Google you before even looking at your resume. For journalism students, this means it's crucial to have a thorough, easy-to-navigate online portfolio that shows up in the search results -- something that highlights your best work and proves your digital savvy.

Most students are quite comfortable working online, but creating a portfolio website still has its challenges. First, you have to hunt down all your clips. Then, you have to find the platform that's going to best show off your stuff.

There are dozens of choices, so to make your life easier, we've compiled a list of 10 choices with pros and cons of each.

Get involved with the Online News Association at Mizzou

By Cole Kennedy
ONA Mizzou chats with BuzzFeed staffer Dan Oshinsky
(Photo credit: ONA Mizzou)
The start of a new school year is upon us, and with that, another semester full of innovative Online News Association programming on campus. Our organization is dedicated to increasing the understanding of digital media and how the tools offered on the Web can help journalists do their jobs. Through the speakers the student leaders work to bring to campus and the other events we host, we hope students will be able to network and discuss the future of news.

The first opportunity new students will have to get involved with ONA is at the Fall Welcome for New Journalism Students on August 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Fall Welcome will have hosts from just about every student club involved with the School of Journalism, and the ONA Mizzou student leaders will be present to answer questions and meet fellow students. Oh, and we couldn't forget to mention that there will be plenty of Tiger Stripe ice cream on hand for attendees.

10 questions to ask before shooting your next Vine

By Andrew Gibson
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
How difficult can it be to shoot six seconds of smartphone video?

Turns out, pretty difficult. Twitter's video-based social network Vine presents many challenges typical of social platforms -- gaining and maintaining followers, for instance -- but also some unique to its format. Shooting a good Vine requires much forethought about how you can possibly grab viewers' interest, convey your message and provide context in so short a time. I'd argue six seconds is far more challenging than 140 characters.

Hence this post. These questions serve as a checklist to go through before making a Vine. Now, you might be thinking this: I watched your Vines, and they weren't too impressive. I agree. My 15 or so Vines will not earn me a Pulitzer or Webby or whatever category they might fit under. However, what I have done is watch hundreds of Vines created by people who are talented -- enough to where I felt comfortable making this list. To be honest, this post is rather selfish because I'm writing these down as much for my benefit as for yours.

Three places journalism students can learn code this summer

By Elise Schmelzer
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Basic understanding of HTML and CSS coding are irreplaceable tools in any journalist's toolbox and a fantastic reason for employers to choose you above other qualified job candidates. Though the languages may seem a tangle of confusing letters and symbols, they can become a gateway to beautiful web pages and applications with a little work.

Though many universities offer classes in web coding, students don't always have the cash or time in their schedule to devote to an official class. Luckily, the Internet provides a wealth of options accessible without a university class. I've outlined some of the best below in no particular order. Each option has its own pros and cons, but all offer a path to coding literacy.

Journalists and activists use social media to share stories

By Hannah Schmidt
Image from
I have always been surprised by the power of social media. One person can post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter and (unless your profiles are private) many people can see it. These social media sites have led to a very connected world.

According to Statistic Brain, there are 1.2 billion Facebook users and an average of 58 million tweets per day. This hyper-connectivity allows us to reach a wider audience faster.

Turkish protestors are using social media to share what is happening in their country. News organizations are incorporating these tweets in their coverage of the protests.

Student news goes digital

By Cole Kennedy

Major initiatives by legacy media organizations to reinvent themselves for the digital era are a dime a dozen lately. From the lauded “Snow Fall” feature by the New York Times to the very recent reincarnation of Newsweek, it seems that publishers are finally catching on to the necessity of a strong online presence, one that doesn’t play second fiddle to the printed edition.

Corporate news organizations aren’t the only ones scrambling to figure out how to survive in a post-print era, though. What about the training grounds of journalism, the venerated student newspapers at high schools and colleges nationwide? They’ve been subjected to growing financial pressure just like any mainstream media organization, perhaps even more so. Fortunately, it seems that their editorial boards are keeping a keen eye on what works and what doesn’t in the industry and applying those lessons to their own, typically independent, publications.

Reporters face unreasonable expectations after Sun-Times photo layoffs

By Andrew Gibson
There's a long list of reasons why the Chicago Sun-Times will likely suffer from laying off its entire photo staff. It won't have the varying perspectives that come from visual-first journalists. Morale in the newsroom will surely drop. And it won't have the crew that's come to learn the nuances of the city after years of experience. Look no further than John H. White, the 35-year Sun-Times veteran and Pulitzer Prize winner selected by the Environmental Protection Agency to photograph Chicago's African-American community in the 1970s.

But there's another problem: Quality inevitably suffers when journalists are forced to multitask on daily deadlines. And that's exactly what the Sun-Times is asking its reporters to do: be responsible, along with freelance photojournalists, for shooting professional-caliber photos when they're on assignment.

Citizen journalists take spotlight covering extreme weather, Moore tornado

By Bridgit Bowden
This YouTube video of the May 20 Moore, Okla.,
tornado was captured from a car.  
From the Joplin, Mo., tornado to the Occupy movement to the Boston bombings, we've all learned how powerful citizen journalism can be.  Social media and smartphones have made it easy for people outside of the news business to share information, pictures and video on a wide scale.  Citizen journalists often get news out before professional news organizations can.

Extreme weather is one of citizen journalism's opportunities to shine.  Last week's tornado in Moore, Okla., is a perfect example.  According to the New York Times, when rescuers were searching through rubble for trapped people at the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School, they "begged everyone to be quiet — helicopters, trucks, ambulances — so they could hear even the faintest cry." Many of the first images and video we saw were pulled from social media.

Why journalism students should attend the 2013 Online News Association Conference

By Andrew Gibson
Nate Silver, who blogs about political statistics
for The New York Times, is the keynote speaker
at ONA13
No matter whether you're studying newspaper, magazine, TV or radio news, you have two things in common with your journalism peers. You want a job, and that job will involve some kind of online work.

Attending the 2013 Online News Association Conference is an opportunity to address both concerns. You'll hang out with employers and notable names from across the industry and learn the digital skills necessary to keep up with the rapidly evolving field.

Registration is open for ONA13, scheduled for Oct. 17-19 in Atlanta. Although students get a discounted rate, we probably still have some persuading to do. That's why we've written four reasons why journalism students should attend ONA13.

Meet the new ONA Mizzou student leaders

President: Andrew Gibson

Andrew Gibson is a senior majoring in convergence journalism and minoring in information technology and business. He has experience with video, audio and print, but his passion is for online journalism. Analytics make him happy, but HTML makes him drool.

Born and raised in Denver, Andrew has interned at KCNC-TV in Denver and The Colorado Springs Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will work as the online intern at the Orlando Sentinel during summer 2013.

Outside of journalism, Andrew enjoys Denver Broncos football and is always hunting for the perfect latte.

Follow Andrew Gibson on Twitter

Live Blog: ONA Student Leader Elections for 2013-14 school year

5:00: Applications distributed
5:08: Amy introduces ONA Mizzou and explains how the application and election process works.
5:11 Erin Dismier introduces herself to those in attendance.
5:12 Vice-President Dalton Barker introduces himself. Secretary Laura Davison introduces herself.
5:13 Social Media Coordinator Anna Burkart arrives and introduces herself
5:14 Amy Simons introduces the candidates
5:15 Presidential candidate Andrew Gibson gives a short speech detailing his involvement with ONA Mizzou. Gibson joins the meeting via Google Hangout, because he is studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium. Gibson shares his vision to bring in speakers from the New York Times and to revamp the blog. He believes ONA can be a bigger club within the journalism school and have a bigger presence on campus.
5:18 Erin reads Candidate Ryan Schuessler's (currently in Pamplona, Spain) application and Amy Simons reads a short introduction Ryan wrote
5:19 Candidate Bridget Bowden gives a short speech detailing her plan as president. Her main goals work with expanding outreach to freshmen and younger students. She details her involvement on campus: Phi Sigma Pi and Mizzou Rec instructor.
5:20 Amy Simons conducts the election for the office of president.
5:22 Votes are counted and Andrew Gibson is elected president.
5:23 Cole Kennedy gives a speech about his passion for digital journalism.
5:25 Amy Simons counts votes and Cole Kennedy is elected as vice-president.
5:26 Elise Schmelzer gives a speech about her experience working on an online newsletter, being AISEC web developed and being a freshman.
5:27 Hannah Schmidt gives a speech about working with the 3D printing club and Newsy. She hopes to bring these connections to ONA.
5:29 Elise Schmelzer is elected to the office of secretary.
5:31 Bridgit and Hannah both give a short account of their experience with social media.
5:32 Erin Dismier reads the applications from Megan Rentschler, Nicole Shaddy and Katie Yaeger.
5:37 Bridgit Bowden is elected to the position of the Social Media Coordinator
5:40 Amy and Erin thank the masses and they disperse.

Final Results for incoming officers for the 2013-14 academic year:
President: Andrew Gibson
Vice-President: Cole Kennedy
Secretary: Elise Schmelzer
Social Media Coordinator: Bridgit Bowden


ONA Mizzou Election Day is finally here!  Whether you're a candidate, want to have a say in who's running your favorite j-school club, everyone should come and see how our elections work!

WHEN: April 25 at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Neff Student Lounge

EVENT ALERT: Creating Sharable Content

Dan Oshinsky, a convergence and RJI fellow alum, is joining us via Skype to talk about creating content that makes people want to share it. Oshinsky is the founder of and currently works for BuzzFeed. Come with questions about being a journalism entrepreneur and be prepared to laugh.

WHEN: April 18 at 5 p.m.

WHERE: RJI 100A (Palmer Room)

We want YOU to become an ONA Mizzou leader!

Credit: BostInno
By Erin Dismeier

Have a passion for digital journalism? Looking for a way to be more involved in the journalism school? Trying to add more leadership experience to add to your resume? Here's your chance to fulfill all of these hopes and desires!

ONA Mizzou Executive Board Elections are at 5 p.m. on April 25 in the Journalism Student Lounge in Neff.  

What a snowstorm taught me about interactive journalism

This blog post was originally published on ONA Mizzou Secretary Laura Davison's personal blog.  

By Laura Davison  

This semester I’m working on the Community Outreach Team at the Columbia Missourian. Our goal is to make the news gather process more open and make it easier for readers to participate in the process. A lot of the work we get to do is experimental. Here’s the short list of what we do:
  • Try out new tools to better report and tell stories
  • Use social media both to communicate and to listen
  • Look at site analytics to see what content is resonating with people
  • Brainstorm new ways that the Missourian can expand its reach and that we can  bring the community into the newsroom (both literally and figuratively)

The week of Columbia's first big snowstorm was definitely one of my favorite weeks on duty this semester. The day before the storm hit, the team was busy planning ways to cover the snow. Community Outreach director Joy Mayer has been talking about RebelMouse, an embeddable page that aggregates posts from social media. The page is customizable to include posts with certain hashtags, updates from select accounts or by manually entering posts the moderator selects. This page included posts from Missourian staff members and other photos or tips posted by social media accounts using the hashtag CoMoSnow.
Rebel Mouse CoMoSnow.

Student Work: Katie Yaeger on why journalism is a useful major

Sophomore news editing student Katie Yaeger is currently an education reporter at the Columbia Missourian. The Atlanta native originally published the following reflection on her blog.

By Katie Yaeger

Dear general public: Journalism is not a “useless” major that limits one to working in one type of career. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Before spring break, I interviewed journalism professor Charles Davis, who will be leaving MU at the end of the academic year to become dean of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. (How ’bout them Dawgs?)
Sure, it was nice to talk about our beloved home state and The Varsity (an Atlanta and Athens landmark that serves delicious F.O.s — Frosted Orange shakes — and other American-style food), but that’s not what I liked the most about our conversation. I asked him what he thought students should be learning in journalism schools, and I was surprised by how much his answer stuck with me.

He didn’t mention anything about a newsroom, or a magazine office, or an advertising agency. He didn’t talk about this ambiguous term of “convergence” (for you non-journalists, that’s the combination of photos, video footage and text stories into one package for the audience) that’s discussed as a possible future of journalism. He didn’t talk about how print newspapers are dying, how people in the industry need to experiment with how to make a profit and survive online, blah blah blah blah blah (insert additional industry chatter here).
He said students should learn to multitask.

He said students should gain the often undervalued ability to take unsynthesized information and condense and translate it so that it makes sense to the general public.
He said students should graduate with the ability to think and move and write fast while maintaining professional standards.

These tangible skill sets, he said, can plug into lots of different workplaces.
Not newsrooms. Not magazine offices. Not TV and radio stations. Not public relations firms. Not advertising agencies. Workplaces.

Read the full post on Katie's blog.

Student Work: Monica's Gusto

She was in the 212
by Monica Ayala-Talavera

Self-described minimalist Kayla Alewel has a flare for finding unique pieces in hidden vintage shops around the world – but she keeps her fashion secrets just that.

When I found her, she was sipping on her morning mocha at the J-Café before her magazine journalism class. In the photographs above Alewel is wearing a Leith black sweater and Trouvé boots, both purchased at Nordstrom, and black pants from Urban Outfitters Рbut what set her apart from the mass of tired coffee-sippers was her vibrant head piece.

Read the full post on Monica's gusto

Monica is a senior in the University of Missouri's convergence journalism program.

Andrew Whalen, Co-Founder of Delve News Live Blog

5:06 Delve News is a news aggregation site that helps connect stories and people through a forum feature.

5:09 Andrew was based in Peru with AP, but wanted to branch out to Digital first; Find that intersection between news and tech.

5:16 The ability to assess an industry and find the needs, while also telling a compelling story is fundamental in start-ups.

5:19 It takes 'humility' to combine technology-driven people with content-driven team. And to always communicate, even over-communicate.

5:22 On starting Delve News: "It is a long, grueling journey to raising money."

5:25 Competing in the Bay Area with so many other start-ups: "You always have to have your head on a swivel."

EVENT ALERT: News + Startups

Andy Whalen co-founder of personalized news aggregator Delve News joins us via Skype to talk about the changing ways consumers filter, find and share news. Come hear about Whalen’s experience working for a news startup and how journalists use their entrepreneurial skills.

WHEN: Thursday, March 14 at 5 p.m.
WHERE: Microsoft App Development Lab (42 Walter Williams)

Call for IRS to revaluate non-profit news organization designation

Credit: Nieman Journalism Lab
By Erin Dismeier

At the beginning of this week, the Council on Foundations released a report urging the IRS to rethink their process on giving news organizations tax-exempt status.
Currently, for a news organization to be considered nonprofit, it  has to distribute content differently than a traditional media outlet.  The report states the way news and media have evolved now make it difficult for a nonprofit news organization to distinguish itself from traditional media outlets.


UPDATED!  The event was postponed due to snow and will be this Thursday, Feb. 28.

We watch television as we check our laptops, phones and tablets. How can journalists harness this hyper-connected audience? Join ONA Mizzou at 5 p.m. on February 28 to hear Futures Lab director Mike McKean discuss the second screen experience.  We'll see you then in the Palmer Room!

A Growing Threat to Journalism: Cyber Attacks
Hackers have been at the center of attacks against journalists
By Dalton Barker

Low pay. Long hours. Dwindling numbers of jobs. All are seen as the biggest threats to 21st century journalists. But the transition from print to digital might pose a larger threat than initially realized for some journalists.

Recent attacks, allegedly sanctioned by the Chinese government, against the Washington Post and New York Times has raised concerns not only on the corporate front, but with individual journalists.

According to a recent study by the Committee to Protect Journalists, cyber attacks against journalists have risen because it's less expensive to target individual journalists instead of better protected companies.  From personal computers to online storage devices, journalists are now more at risk from cheaply-hired hackers.

EVENT ALERT: Seeing Double

Updated Feb. 21, 2013

We watch television as we check our laptops, phones and tablets. How can journalists harness this hyper-connected audience? Join ONA Mizzou at 5 p.m. on February 28 to hear Futures Lab director Mike McKean discuss the second screen experience. Room is TBA.

Note: This event has been rescheduled from its original time.

Journalism courses going digital: Can journalism schools really do the same?

By Anna Burkart
Maybe classrooms will be more empty due to online courses
gain popularity, but j-school newsrooms probably won't
be empty anytime soon.

The classrooms are empty with no students to be seen. Everyone is turning in their reporting assignments online and professors are judging students’ reporting abilities without ever meeting them. Could this be journalism schools of the future? The empty classroom image is certainly making its way around sites like Nieman Journalism Lab and PBS Media Shift in the discussion about free online journalism courses.

This past December, the University of Texas’ Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas held it’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). It attracted more than 2,000 students from around the world looking for a free “Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization” course. With online courses growing in popularity, the question becomes: Will online journalism degrees be the norm someday soon?

Is that story journalism or advertising?: Sponsored content's blurry status

By Laura Davison

Journalists have plenty of new things to tackle these days: Facebook Graph, Quora’s new blogging platform and keeping their online presence looking as spiffy as the New Republic’s.

And the never-ending to do list keeps growing: what’s the deal with sponsored content? Or you might have heard it referred to as one of its many other names— content marketing, native advertising or paid content. As Mashable outlines, the jury’s still out on what term the industry will adopt.

No matter the name, the idea is brands, instead of placing display ads online, create multimedia content with the help of the an editorial member of a news organization. This content has the look and feel of the other content on the site, except for some designation marking it as sponsored. News organizations get paid to create this content and advertisers have a more dynamic platform to share their brand.

Financially, it looks like a win for both. The desire for native advertising is being driven by two forces: the need for additional sources of revenue and the way users interact with advertising online has changed greatly in the past decade. Online banner advertising had a click-through rate of 9 percent in 2000, according to Mashable. Last year it was 0.2 percent. Zero point two. When you’re getting paid by the click, that just doesn’t cut it.
A screenshot of the Scientology sponsored post in the Atlantic

It’s no surprise that news organizations have looked to sponsored content, which is more engaging and less advertisement-y, as a potential source of revenue. Big outlets like NBC Digital, Forbes, Buzzfeed and most recently, the Atlantic, are all among organizations experimenting with it.

But some journalists have ethical concerns about content that looks so similar to the journalism also on the site. Earlier this month, the Atlantic ran a sponsored post for the Church of Scientology. Readers were confused and upset by the content, which was a piece praising Scientology’s recent accomplishments. Users were allowed to comment and negative ads were suppressed. It’s since been taken down, but you can still see a pdf of the post. Only a small yellow tab at the beginning of the story noted that it was an advertorial. The Atlantic admitted that, “They screwed up.”

Letters Home: Chris Mycoskie

The following letter was submitted Aug. 20, 2012

Chris Mycoskie, right, is the Southland Conference's
assistant commissioner for television and electronic
media. He attended the University of Missouri in the
late 1990s.
Dear Young Tigers,

I’m honestly surprised that I’ve been asked to participate in this letters home project. First of all, I’m not a graduate of the University of Missouri, much less the Missouri School of Journalism. I’ve been told, though, that I’m an honorary member of the Mizzou Mafia, and I’m proud to call myself a Tiger.

One of the main reasons I chose Missouri was the existence of KOMU. While some
people told me I’d need to wait until my junior year (after being accepted into the
broadcast sequence) to do anything there, I didn’t listen. I drove out to the building
on Highway 63 during my first week on campus and wound up being there nearly
every day after that until I left school.