• 4992 Projects and Teams: Spring 2018

    Basic Info | Schedule | Projects/Teams | Objectives | Policies | Grading

    Cincinnati Magazine Facebook strategy

    Client: Editor-in-Chief John Fox

    Mentor: RJI Executive Director Randy Picht

    Team: Taylor Banks, Hannah Sandfeld & Drew Mathieu

    Social media, specifically Facebook, makes up a significant percentage of Cincinnati Magazine’s average monthly web traffic. Facebook is currently their single most important content distribution channel, despite being the third largest social media audience (behind Twitter and Instagram). But the platform itself can be challenging to master.

    The capstone team will:

    1.) Research comparable publications in the city and regional magazine industry to determine any obvious strategies or approaches;

    2.) Research Facebook’s own documentation for background on the platform’s setup and expectations for content producers;

    3.) Identify specific ways the client can alter its approach on the platform to improve reach and engagement;

    4.) Establish a set of best practices (with regard to caption drafting, image use, types of content that perform well, etc.) that they can use to set up a social media plan and daily workflow.

    Cincinnati Magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 2017 covering local newsmakers, difference makers, style makers and creatives, featuring popular service guides to schools, restaurants, neighborhoods, top doctors, arts and shopping as well as editors’ annual picks for the Best of the City. Cincinnati Magazine is owned by Hour Media, which operates city or regional magazines in Atlanta; Detroit; Los Angeles; Minnesota; Orange County, Calif.; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Sacramento in addition to Cincinnati.

    For the purposes of this project, the client will provide full access to Cincinnati Magazine’s web and social media accounts and metrics and can identify “gold standard” titles within the city and regional magazine industry.

    Fader 360 TV newsroom rollout

    Client: Vragments, CEO and founder Linda Rath-Wiggins

    Mentors: KOMU Managing Editor Jamie Grey & Mike McKean

    Team: Qingran Li, Maoyan Wei, Rayna Sims & Amber Sipe

    Last semester, a capstone team worked with Vragments, the Berlin-based company that has developed a browser-based VR editing and sharing tool, to test Fader 360 with individual reporters and producers.

    Fader’s most prominent users to date are Euronews and Germany’s Deutsche Welle.  This semester’s team will help embed the 360 video tool into the daily workflow of a commercial, American broadcast newsroom: KOMU-TV.  You will work with students in the Advanced Reporting class to generate in-depth stories and develop a strategy for VR user-generated content from KOMU’s audience.  One suggested focus is to profile real people in “flyover country” who receive insufficient attention from traditional news media.

    This project, along with the work of the previous Fader team, will help American newsrooms with more modest financial and technical resources take advantage of an important new medium.

    Green Duck Lounge

    Clients/mentors: MU Theatre professor Claire Syler &  journalism instructor Janet Saidi

    Team: Zechang Fu, Matt Horn, Landon Jones & Meiying Wu

    The Green Duck Lounge, a world-premiere play by KC playwright, Michelle Tyrene Johnson, uses Missouri history, current events, and journalism to explore how the contemporary #BlackLivesMatter movement parallels the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  The February 21-25 production also includes outreach, installations, and education events, and each performance is followed by a TalkBack featuring historians, scholars, journalists, the actors, and activists from our community.

    The capstone team will help the producers in these areas: In the run-up to the production, audience engagement and outreach; a social media campaign; telling the Green Duck Lounge story through multimedia production, and perhaps a radio conversation series/podcast. Post-show, the team will foster follow-up social media discussion; conduct audience surveys and help with other research to track the impact of this journalism-to-stage project.

    In addition to the producers, MU faculty involved in the Green Duck Lounge include Keona Ervin, Stephanie Shonekan, Earnest Perry and Stacey Woelfel along with investigative journalist Glenn Rice.

    Social media for MU women’s softball and volleyball teams

    Client: Andrew Oldenburg

    Mentor: Amy Simons

    Team: Shannon Sankey & Lexie Stoker

    Lexie and Shannon will create a full social media report for the softball and volleyball teams using analytics from past years’ social media and develop a new strategy for the upcoming season to improve upon metrics such as likes, post engagement and total impressions. They also plan to create social content, when needed, to fulfill the goals outlined in their strategy.

    They will work closely with the strategic communications director for the teams to achieve their goals, presumably higher attendance at games and events and increased audience engagement with their various social channels.

    At the end of the semester, the team will draft a formal report of the various metrics, evaluate successes and failures and help the Athletic Department’s communication team plan for future seasons.

    Student athlete profiles

    Clients: MU Athletic Department, Faculty Council

    Mentor: Stan Silvey — Manager, Broadcast Operations, Mizzou Network

    Team: Kori Clay, Kevin Ko, Lauren Magarino & Sybil Wang

    Members of the MU Faculty Council are looking for a highly-produced but authentic portrayal of student athletes to be presented at a faculty meeting prior to Spring Break.  They’re particularly interested in “day-in-the-life” style videos that help educate faculty about the demands placed on student athletes at the University of Missouri.  The project may also include production of infographics and other multimedia content to use online and in the presentation.

    While this MizzouMade story isn’t a precise example of what’s expected, it gives a sense of style:  http://more.mutigers.com/mizzoumade/marston.html.

    The capstone team’s task will be to consult with council members and work directly with the Athletic Department to select athletes, access archival content from the Mizzou Network and produce original material that will include at least two profiles before Spring Break and one after.

    Vox strategic planning

    Client: Vox Magazine

    Mentor: Heather Lamb

    Team: Cecilia Cao & Kyle Veidt

    Vox Magazine is a weekly city magazine and daily website published by the School of Journalism and produced by students in editing, writing, design, digital and multimedia classes. The print edition evolved in 1998 from the merger of two Missouri Method magazines, Weekend and Ideas. Over the past decade, its digital arm has grown from a blog, VoxTalk, to a robust daily website at voxmagazine.com.

    This capstone project will work toward identifying how digital and print entities should be integrated for the benefit of student learning and to serve local audiences. Some potential deliverables include: 1) Creating goals around online-only features. This would examine the role of video, online design and emerging technology in the production of longform stories, and also determine best practices for the creation and promotion of such stories. 2) Identifying online branding opportunities whether around content areas or branded verticals (such as Vulture from New York magazine). 3) Doing short case studies of two to three audience-driven media operations. (These could be print/digital magazine combinations or online-only media brands, but they shouldn’t be news driven.)

    There are several previous projects that can be utilized at the start of this examination. One is a reader survey carried out by Amy Simons’ Online Audience Development class in fall 2017; another is an individual graduate student project from summer 2017 interviewing alums, faculty and magazine editors about digital strategies; and the third is an undergraduate student overview from spring 2017 of Columbia magazine media.

    The capstone team will work with Vox students to produce content that illustrates best practices and reinforces their end-of-semester recommendations.

    Automated writing for journalists who don’t code

    Client: Associated Press

    Mentors: AP’s Lisa Gibbs (Director of News Partnerships) and Justin Myers & RJI Executive Director Randy Picht

    Team: Kelly Palecek, Sarah Sabatke & Lauren Wortman

    Automated journalism — articles and other content generated automatically based on data — is becoming increasingly common. It’s hard for journalists to have a say in how these pieces are created, though, because the underlying systems often are made or maintained by programmers who sometimes work for outside companies. Templating platforms and systems such as Wordsmith, Articulator Lite and Jinja can help bridge this gap and let journalists write or edit the code behind automated stories, but they can be difficult to learn for people without prior backgrounds in software development.

    The Associated Press wants to build a training program in template writing (also known as natural language generation) that is designed for journalists with no prior programming experience, so reporters and editors can help design and understand the logic behind the stories that are being published in their name.  Capstone team members first will be expected to develop thorough expertise in this area and then later will test the curriculum they develop with student and professional journalists and refine it based on participant feedback.

    In order to speed up the learning process, Mizzou alum and AP News Automation Editor Justin Myers will travel to Columbia from his home base of Chicago early in the semester to train the capstone team.  We also intend to seek one or more Computer Science students to assist with the project.

    Berkshire Edge community engagement

    Client: Publisher Marcie Setlow

    Mentor: Ebony Reed

    Team: Marlee Baldridge, Anna Kohls, Collin Krabbe & Courtney Manning

    The Berkshire Edge is a lively local online newspaper that serves Berkshire County in the southwest corner of Massachusetts and the contiguous counties in New York and Connecticut.  They are three and a half years old and have built a readership of about 100,000 visitors a month.  Their focus is local, and they report on national news only as the issues pertain to their local community.  In a market where there is a large, regional daily print paper with a mediocre online presence and a weekly print paper with no online presence, the Edge has positioned itself as a nimble, slightly off-beat publication with its fingers on the pulse of the community.

    While the paper emphasizes its connections to the community, its reader interactions are limited.  They get a good number of comments, and frequently the conversation among the commenters is longer and more informative than the original article. Beyond that, the publisher says their social media is limited and unimaginative. They would like to learn how to use social to develop new audiences and to engage readers more.  They would also like to know how to use social to develop content, and to permit readers to contribute content.

    The capstone team will help the Edge develop a strategy and teach staff how to implement it.  However, the staff is small and already overworked, so the strategy needs to be implementable with minimal staff time or by either a part-time freelancer or a student intern.

    Snap the Vote

    Clients: Sandy Breland, TV Station Group Vice-President, and Steve Ackermann, Vice-President of News, Raycom Media

    Mentors: RTV professor Elizabeth Frogge & Mike McKean

    Team: Natalie Edelstein, Marilyn Haigh, Janie Matthews & Jennifer Prohov

    Raycom Media is an employee-owned, multi-platform company that owns or provides services for TV stations reaching 16 percent of American households.

    Utilizing college and high school journalism relationships cultivated within selected Raycom markets, the capstone team will craft Snapchat political coverage targeted to the Snap demo in an effort to educate the first-time voter regarding issues important to them.  You will create non-partisan, issue-related Snaps using insights uncovered by your research.

    The 2018 U.S. Senate and House elections will serve as the subject matter for your stories.  You will work directly with Raycom stations in Tucson, AZ, Louisville, KY, Evansville, IN and Cape Girardeau, MO to execute and test your Snapchat strategy.

    The Obvious Question podcast

    Clients/mentors: KBIA News Director Ryan Famuliner & Health Reporter Rebecca Smith

    Team: Rosie Belson, Abby Ivory-Ganja, Hannah Haynes & Trevor Hook

    Last semester, a capstone team worked with KBIA to produce and develop a sustainable strategy for community events tied to its Missouri Health Talks project, which gives sources the ability to tell their own stories similar in form to StoryCorps.

    This semester KBIA is launching a short-run podcast tentatively titled The Obvious Question as a spinoff of Missouri Health Talks. The podcast’s host, Madi Lawson, was a subject of one of the project’s stories this year, and is also a Missouri School of Journalism student.

    The capstone team will assist with the production, distribution and promotion of the podcast.

    Online public affairs, media & policy platform for women of color

    Client: Founder Anita Estell

    Mentors: Mark Hinojosa & Mike McKean

    Team: Waverly Colville, Lily Cusack, Falyn Page & Char’Nese Turner

    CELIE is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC.  The organization has three focus areas serving multicultural markets: civic engagement; women and girls; and diversity and inclusion.  CELIE recently launched XXTRA Special & Free, the only national online public affairs publication for women of color. “XXTRA” stands for “women taking responsibility and action” are “XXTRA” special and free.

    CELIE Founder and President Anita Estell seeks a team to monitor and report on the 2018 election cycle and stories relevant to women of color.  Races in Alabama, Georgia and Virginia already demonstrate the relevance of members of this community and their impact on election outcomes.  CELIE also anticipates an uptick in women of color running for office.  This is an excellent time to access implications associated with the convergence of the #metoo and #blackgirlmagic movements.   Using podcasts, video and copy, team members will interview and profile women of color candidates and leaders, and others working with this constituency at the national level and in communities across the nation.

    Team members also will have an opportunity to produce content related to public policy developments in the areas of criminal justice, education, science and tech, or another area they may want to propose for consideration and approval.  Estell also would like the team to identify the most active bloggers writing on public affairs and public policy issues relevant to women of color in the top 10 markets where women of color live, and who are good candidates for collaboration or partnerships.

    CELIE will host a monthly virtual seminar with national leaders. As a final project, each team member will have an opportunity to select (at the beginning of the semester) a story idea relevant to the federal government.  At the end of the semester, CELIE will host and sponsor each team member for 2-3 days in Washington, DC where they will have an opportunity to shadow and/or interview national leaders, and produce a story for publication.

    AdZou collaboration: Tech startups

    Clients: StoryUp, Maply & RiskMiner

    Mentor: Strategic Communication professor Jim Flink

    Team: Gabe Dubois, Lauren Langdon & Nina Ruhe

    Strategic communication student teams under the direction of professor Jim Flink will develop marketing strategies for three RJI-supported clients.  In a first-of-its-kind partnership between Strat Comm and Convergence, a 4992 capstone team will join with Flink’s group to provide video (and other multimedia services) while learning more from their AdZou classmates about marketing research, planning and execution.

    The three clients you’ll support are:

    StoryUp — StoryUP creates data-driven VR escapes for people dealing with acute stress. Using BCI (brain computer interface), they enable the user to control some VR experiences with their own brainwaves. StoryUP has partners ranging from Google and Facebook to the American Heart Association and The Washington Post.  The company was founded by former KOMU journalist Sarah Hill and is supported by the Missouri Innovation Center.

    Maply – Maply, a geo-location app for supporting community events, debuted at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin.  The company is turning to AdZou for help with creating a scalable and repeatable strategy for launching in new college markets.  Maply won the Technical Merit award in the 2016 RJI Student Competition and took part in the business incubator at the MIC.

    RiskMiner — RiskMiner is a searchable, interactive database on risk in agribusiness as identified by corporate documents, government reports, data and academic studies. It uses programmatic scrapers, algorithms, and natural language processing tools to identify hidden issues for journalists, researchers, industry and trade officials as well as the general public.  RJI Fellows Pam Dempsey and Brant Houston at the Midwest Center for Investigative Journalism are developing RiskMiner.

    Individual capstone projects

    These four convergence students are working on individual projects in New York and Washington, DC:

    Lily Oppenheimer: RJI Innovation Fellow at Mic
    Allie Pecorin: David Kaplan Memorial Fellow in the ABC News Washington Bureau
    Mica Soellner: RJI Innovation Fellow at PolitiFact
    AnnMarie Welser: RJI Innovation Fellow at NowThis

    Last semester’s projects here.

    ----------Posted on January 11, 2018 by in 4992

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