New Media Publishing Project 2008
Location, location, location.
It's not just the best advice for investing in real estate -- it's an important emerging frontier for media content and services. This new frontier was explored, in-depth, this spring by a team of journalism master's students at Medill.
The students called themselves "Team LoJo," short for "locative journalism." Their mission: Learn about location-based technologies, such as GPS-enabled mobile devices and interactive maps, and explore their implications for journalism and storytelling.
Team LoJo reported a series of multimedia stories about Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, and experimented with different ways of presenting those stories -- via online slideshows, Web-based maps and location-aware portable devices. They documented their research and reporting on a blog (lojoconnect.com) and produced findings and recommendations for journalists, newsrooms, media companies and journalism schools.
The team concluded that:
- Geography is a powerful and increasingly important way of organizing journalism and other content, and making it relevant to people.
- Mobile platforms are rapidly maturing, and increasingly will include technologies allowing content to be delivered based on the user's location.
- Because mobile devices are especially important to young people -- an audience all media companies are desperate to reach -- location-related content should be a priority for media businesses..
- Stories created for mobile devices might be best told with audio, since that is the format most suited to situations in which users are multitasking or traveling from place to place.
- When someone is in a physical location, hearing an audio narration about their surroundings can make for a powerful, immersive storytelling experience.
The students' most novel experiment was to create a locative journalism experience focused on the potential impact of the Olympics on Chicago's Washington Park, which would be home to the Olympic stadium. Using free Windows Mobile software and GPS-enabled devices from Hewlett-Packard, the students invited people for a "walk in the park" enhanced by a story told in audio and photos. . The students came away convinced of the potential power of stories rooted in a physical location, but they also found that when people are paying attention to their surroundings, photos (and video) are a distraction while audio is complementary.
You can read more about the students' projects and conclusions by viewing a short video, watching their final presentation to Medill friends and faculty, or reading their comprehensive report (downloadable PDF). Their instructor, Associate Professor Rich Gordon, also explored the implications of their project on the Readership Institute Web site.