Last month I described several of the projects under way. Here’s the first monthly update, as described by the people leading the effort. (They’ll be submitting updates every month, and I’ll pass them along.)

Missourian Mobile — content development and distribution – Katherine Reed

August report: Talked to application developers about creating apps for Missourian news, and specifically Tiger sports as a way to brand Missourian mobile news. I’m also developing a simple survey of mobile use among students, specifically the students in 4450/7450, as a “sketch” of mobile use among a potentially lucrative target group (for advertising and coupons). 7450 students may have a role in doing research on mobile reporting as it’s now practiced in newsrooms.

September: More research on Mizzou sports apps, business models for Missourian mobile news content and testing free software available to many of our students for doing mobile reporting.

Launch date: December, if we chose a vendor by mid-September, on app; Oct. 1 for mobile site.

Interactive copy editing – Creating a new job description for copy editors while restructuring the copy editing course. – Nick Jungman

Update: The interactive copy desk (ICD) launched Aug. 23, as did the parallel print production desk. This has been surprisingly free of major hangups. We seem to be out of the gate with the desired focus on the website, keeping both dayside and nightside interactive copy editors relatively busy on a variety of tasks, from standard story editing to comment moderation to link aggregation, some late-afternoon overscheduling notwithstanding. The major challenge on the web side has been to optimize scheduling to match work flow, particular when it comes to teaching assistants. Teaching assistants were probably our most efficient multitaskers under the old system, nimbly switching from Web to print, and we’ve now split them into Web-only and print-only roles, even as we’ve been forced to cut back TA hours. As a result, the Web side in particular doesn’t feel it has enough TA help, and much has fallen on the shoulders of faculty editors. In addition to the TA scheduling problem, there is clearly room for more student copy editors to be working Web-side earlier in the morning, when there are multiple tasks related to site cleanup and breaking news. However, it is difficult to schedule full-time students in morning shifts, when the students tend to be in class. Still, there are ways we can tweak the schedule that may get us closer to where we need to be. And naturally, as the student editors gain expertise, the pressure on TAs and faculty editors will ease. In some ways these are just typical early-semester problems, amplified because we are all working in an unfamiliar system. As we all become more comfortable, we’ll understand better which problems are actually flaws in the new system, and which will resolve themselves as we chip away at them and learn from our mistakes.

For September: I’ve largely turned my attention to the changes in Journalism 4406, News Editing & Design, that will support the changes we’re making at the Missourian. Lectures have begun with a focus on display type for the web, with emphasis on SEO and keywords, but also a new consideration of the different requirements of story-level display type (which should be optimized for search) and home-page display type (which should be optimized for browsing readers). Lectures are also scheduled in:

  • Basic Web analytics — how that data can inform our news judgment and site organization.
  • Basic HTML — how it can be used to solve simple information formatting and design problems.
  • Linking — what links make sense to the reader and which words should constitute a link.
  • Embedding — how to use free web tools to create simple widgets that can be embedded in stories to add context and interactivity.

Throughout the semester, students will work in small groups to research the ways web producers at news websites are fostering interactivity and to suggest ways the Missourian might follow these examples.

Print design and production – Giving ownership of the print edition to print designers (and the design class) – Jake Sherlock

August update: The print team had a successful first week under the Van Dam plan. We made deadline every night; the designers came up with some interesting, innovative designs; we’ve set a good tone in terms of photo play that I hope we can continue and improve on for the rest of the semester. A few areas we need to work on: Tighten up the editing, better headline writing and design, more decks on stories. But overall, I’m very pleased with our launch, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the TAs and Ron.

Vox iPad app – Designing Vox for the iPad with ideas and techniques to share with the magazine industry. – Kristin Kellogg

August update: Continued background research on what the magazine industry is currently doing on the iPad. Continued designing mock-ups for Vox iPad app.

September plans: Revise iPad mock-ups with input from magazine faculty; hand off to be programmed

Launch date: Design phase approved by Sept. 15

CoMoYouKnow (CMYK) — Creating a local, wiki-like encyclopedia to provide systemic context for episodic news. – Laura Johnston

August update: Chris Carmody has joined our efforts to oversee the publication. We’re working to assess how many entries already exist, where there is duplication, and how we can begin creating some consistency in format. We’re planning a meeting this week with our IT department to learn more about the wikipedia software on Missourian servers.

September plans: Meeting with Rob/Noah on how to create the entries in the Wiki software. We’ll also begin inputting data for each entry and gearing up for the soft-launch publication.
Along the way, we’ll try to identify gaps in our content and assign entries that are still necessary and/or  that would be useful to our initial launch.

Launch date: Oct. 30

Missourian ethics – Creating event(s) around proposed ethics policies on conflicts of interest and “un-publishing” of content. – John Schneller

August update: Touched bases with Charles Davis about using SPJ as a vehicle for expanding the conversation to students, faculty and others. Alerted Lynda Kraxburger and Kent Collins about the project and requested codes/conflict polices for KOMU and KBIA. Examining polices at other news outlets. Reviewed research paper on journalism ethics codes “then and now” by Lee Wilkins and Bonnie Brennen. Reviewed various articles at Poynter on conflict polices and unpublishing.

September plans: Finish review of literature and other policies. Set date(s) for at least one SPJ gathering to get feedback from students and others. Continue informal discussions with faculty and other stakeholders (I won’t forget Ms. Banken!). Settle on a more specific framework for the overall conversation. Consider merits of a suggestion already in to create a student survey (capstone?).

Launch date: by end of November

Junit™ – Creating a semantic Web platform for newspaper publishing with compatibility to print and Web 2.0. — Tom Warhover

August update: Junit developers are at Build 3C – still a ways to go before deployment to the Missourian. Positive development: Engineers in India have started asking specific questions about features that were listed in the design templates. The most positive development, though, are all the changes and projects described above, which should significantly help the transition to Junit.

Sept. plans: Core team (Kristen, Kristin, Chelsea, Rob, Tom) will be meeting once a week to address design questions raised by engineers and to plan testing.

Launch date: Six weeks after delivery of software from Junit Inc.

(Missing: Green Eyeshades)