Embracing changes to your shiny, new idea

Sep 30 2014

And we have it! The coveted Institutional Review Board approval for the Journalists for America team!

The IRB is an ethics organization that oversees all university research. In order to do any sort of user testing, we first need IRB approval. And we got it.

With the official green light, we have begun surveying potential users and continued conversations with experts at universities and organizations with similar models (Teach for America and Venture for America) in developing our own. As we explained in our first five-minute pitch that we gave this Friday, we are creating a fellowship program that would allow journalism school graduates to live in a small community for one to two years while working to address the news and information needs of that community.

Based on user testing conducted this week, three out of four current journalism students are interested in a Teach for America model for journalists. They are interested in the idea of postgraduate opportunities in journalism and working with local communities, where they would live for one to two years. We also found that potential users really want the support, guidance and credibility that comes from working to improve community journalism through partnering with existing news outlets in that community.

But as we talked about the first week in the Lab, we can’t develop a viable prototype for our program without accepting and embracing changes to our shiny, new idea.

After speaking with the leader of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, we are considering adjusting the process involved in our prototype. At the Texas Center for Community Journalism, experts from around the country provide workshops to various Texas community newspapers for developing and furthering technical skills in journalism, like Web design and social media management.

In examining the success of this model, we are looking at shifting our program model to allow journalism school graduates and the community newspapers to learn from each other. The journalism school graduates would bring their background in digital skills that they are currently learning, such as social media marketing skills, and educate those in the community organization. In return, the journalism graduates can work on long-term projects, implement their latest ideas, and potentially develop a media prototype (similar to the Reese News Lab process) that could be used in the community after they complete the program.

This week we will continue speaking with experts, including VFA, and reach out to communities and their news organizations to learn more about the specific community information needs out there. We’ll also contact students and additional professors at other schools, as well as take part in a journalism school job fair to survey additional students and develop a viability model.


Previously on Community Journalism:

IRB patience lends time to dig deeper

Two key strategies for the beginning stages of a prototype

Why IRB calls for specificity 

How might we meet the information needs of communities?

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