UF College of Journalism and Communications launches Innovators Series to introduce students to ideas of media visionaries

Published: May 21 2014

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

Knight Foundation invests more than $110,000 to help test new techniques in journalism education

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications today announced the launch of The Innovators Series, a project that will introduce students to lectures from thought leaders who are developing breakthrough ideas in media. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting the speaker series, which will kick off this fall.

Six speakers will take part in the series, which will focus on three areas of media innovation: news distribution and collection, audience engagement and new ways of communicating. The lectures will also highlight innovative uses of data and mobile. While visiting, speakers will further work with students and faculty to help introduce new media innovation offerings to the curriculum through specific activities and events.

The 2014-15 innovators currently include:

  • Mark Little, Storyful founder and CEO, and social media innovator.
  • Melissa Bell, Vox Media executive editor and senior product manager and Vox.com co-founder.
  • Nicco Mele, business forecaster, whose book “The End of Big” discusses the consequences of technology and our constantly “connected” lives.

The college will select three additional innovators in the next academic year.

“We’re excited about bringing these provocative thinkers into our environment, and seeing what happens when we combine their forward thinking with our students’ passion, and resources like the Innovation News Center,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. “We see this series as an opportunity to enliven our curriculum, co-create projects with the innovators and students, and stimulate new ideas for scholarship.”

“The Innovators Series allows educators to test new ways to prepare journalism students for the newsrooms of tomorrow,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of journalism and media innovation. “By exposing the college to leaders in the field the hope is to create a platform for the spread of ideas and help modernize journalism education.”

The series will go beyond the traditional keynote presentation format. Each event is designed as an intimate, purpose-driven gathering, ensuring that it is equally meaningful for the speakers and the community.

Mark Little will kick off the Innovators Series from Sept. 18-19.  Little founded Storyful, a tool that uses advanced technology and journalistic expertise to find content used by newsrooms, brands and video producers around the world. Based in Dublin, New York and Hong Kong, Storyful’s journalists and technologists cover news from around the globe. Reuters, The New York Times, the BBC and many other leading media organizations use its dashboard.

Melissa Bell is the co-founder of Vox.com and executive editor and senior product manager of Vox Media, one of the fastest-growing online publishers in the world. Vox focuses on developing high-value digital journalism, storytelling and brand advertising at scale. It includes the sports blog network SB Nation, tech site The Verge, food blog Eater and explanatory journalism site Vox. Bell will visit the college in November.

Nicco Mele, an entrepreneur, angel investor and Harvard Kennedy School faculty member, will round out the first phase of The Innovator Series with his visit in early February. His book, “The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath,” explores the consequences of living in a socially connected society. He co-founded EchoBitto, a leading strategy and consulting firm, whose clients include AARP, the Clinton Global Initiative, Medco and the United Nations World Food Programme.

About UF College of Journalism and Communications

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is driving innovation and engagement across the disciplines of advertising, journalism, public relations and telecommunication. The strength of its programs, faculty, students and alumni — in research and in practice — has earned the college ongoing recognition as one of the best in the nation among its peers. The college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates, both online and on campus. The college’s strength is drawn from both academic rigor and experiential learning. CJC students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in the Innovation News Center, which generates content across multiple platforms, and a strategic communication agency that will begin operation in fall 2014. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only program in public interest communications.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.


Quenta Vettel, qvettel@jou.ufl.edu
Anusha Alikhan, media@knightfoundation.org

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories