After many months of preparation, I’m excited to have finally launched the news engagement lab, a new course I created to help students learn and practice the concepts and techniques of news engagement.
I know. I know. “Engagement.” It’s a term that everyone seems to be talking about these days. Some refer to it as a “buzz word.” What does it even mean? For me, I view it as an important process that goes hand-in-hand with reporting, writing, editing and other journalism skills that we teach.
Sure, the act of engagement isn’t really new. Efforts to engage audiences have been around for as long as news has. Today, though, in the digital realm, engagement takes on new meaning — and importance. News organizations have so many technological ways to engage and measure — and they desperately need to reach out to audiences in order to stay viable and relevant.
I wanted to teach students this new process through hands-on experiences. So I was fortunate enough to partner with the fine folks at NET, Nebraska’s statewide public broadcasting entity. Students in the course will be conducting audience research, creating social media content and developing engagement strategies for two NET long-range news projects.
Should be an interesting experiment! We plan to document everything we do so we can share our findings with others. And because I am using the class as the focus of a course portfolio for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Peer Review of Teaching program, I’ll be doing a lot of documenting of and reflecting on my teaching methods as part of my inquiry. The course portfolio will be published later in the summer.
UPDATE: Link to course portfolio.
I’m always happy to share. I wouldn’t be teaching this course had it not been for the many people passionate about engagement who have shared their expertise, research, best practices — and enthusiasm. You can learn from them as well; their writings make up the reading list for the class, which you can find in the syllabus.