BarCamp Redefining J School

A few co-conspirators and I want to hold a BarCamp on Sunday, October 25th, the day after the SPJ regional conference at the University of Oregon. For those who have never attended one, a BarCamp is an “ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.” In short, if you think you have something to teach you can throw it in to the mix. If you’re there to learn, then you have a whole number of knowledgeable people as teachers for a variety of topics.

The topic for this BarCamp? Redefining J school. The news industry is going through epic change that most J schools are ill-equipped for. It’s time for a new style of learning. We brainstormed several possible sessions:

  • What courses should you take to supplement your journalism career? What are good minors to a journalism degree?
  • What do students want from professors? How can students take initiative and enhance classes?
  • Crowdsourcing, and leveraging the knowledge of the community to put together a story
  • Where’s the line between PR and journalism?
  • Digital basics (blogging, Twitter, Google Alerts, etc.) and how those tools can be used
  • How to get paid internships (i.e. kickstarting your career while still in college)
  • Where’s the line between work and life when building your personal brand online?

Granted, I’ve done a lot of punditry in the last year talking about how J school is obsolete and needs to be completely reinvented. It’s time to translate grand ideas into action.

We’re planning to meet at 6:00 pm PT in the EMU Fishbowl, next Tuesday the 6th. Join our Google Group to stay in touch, or leave a note in the comments.


Greg Linch September 30, 2009 Reply

There’s no question you need computer science students and professors at this event. But not just for skills and talent. J-schools need to adopt a computer science school — and, from a larger view, science — approach to education; specifically, because they are constantly evolving to learn new skills and are they’re field revolves around change. This is the opposite of how j-schools have operated, but that old approach needs to an about-face.

Science even more so because, as others have pointed out, journalism schools need to lead the industry, not follow. Innovation in science departments is expected. Innovation in journalism departments is an anomaly.

So, before you even ask them to help build cool stuff, ask them how you should best approach learning and adapting in an academic setting.

Greg Linch September 30, 2009 Reply

Forgot some fixes when I was self-editing my comment. It should say:

“new skills and their field revolves around change”

Daniel September 30, 2009 Reply

Ah, that’s a really good point. I’m not actually sold on the idea that the computer science department is the best source of innovation, but it’s critical that J school takes this time of disruption to invest in R&D and lead the industry. I think a frank conversation between students and professors about how to have this happen could lead to desirable results. It would’ve been sweet to start something like CoPress with the support of the university, instead of having to drop classes.

Andrew Spittle September 30, 2009 Reply

Nice, I like the idea. Especially doing it in a university town with a J school there. It’d be sweet if you could get some of the J school profs to come to share their side of things as well. I’d be tempted to drive out there for the weekend too if it’s something that gets pulled off.

Abraham Hyatt October 1, 2009 Reply

Great idea. I’ll be there. Let me know if I can help in any way.

Jessica Stuhr October 5, 2009 Reply

Sounds useful Daniel. I would love to get people involved but I have a commitment to myself tomorrow at 6. That sounds strange, but tomorrow is day 8 of my 10-day Bikram Yogathon and I owe it to myself not to quit. However, that being said, I will make an announcement in my advertising class tomorrow about it and try to get some of those innovative thinkers to attend. It’s Deborah Morrison’s class and I know she will be intrigued too. I will attend future meetings, as there definitely should be follow-ups, and am looking forward to seeing where they take us.

Kelsey Proud October 6, 2009 Reply

This is great! Please say you’ll be livestreaming / livechatting this for those of us who would kill to be there but can’t get up to the Northwest?

I agree with everything Greg’s saying above, but also with Andrew. It has to be a bit of collaboration with the computer science departments to start, so we can learn the basic building blocks of innovation, then go full force into R&D.

Best of luck! And keep us all posted about any possible livestreaming!

Might just have to hold one of my own here in the midwest at the same time and communicate on a national level… Interested in collaborating?

Ed Bisquera October 10, 2009 Reply


This is very encouraging to hear that you’re organizing a Journalism-focused Barcamp. As an REBarcamp organizer and attendee (REBarcamp is Real estate industry focused, but the idea of Barcamp the same) I can say including everyone in the discussion is important.

I have just been asked by Libby Tucker to come sit on a panel that is discussing Mobile Journalism and my use of video blogging for myself and my clients. So I’ll be in Eugene on the 24th. I’d be available in chatting more if you would like about your Barcamp. I’m now thinking I should stay in town and try and attend, if you’re still going to be holding a Journalism Barcamp. As an aside, are the Ducks playing that day or out of town?

I have done presentations about digital basics/social media basics and thought maybe our applications/best practices in the Real estate industry might be valuable to those in Journalism?

Your topics are definitely spot on and as a father of 13 year old daughter, I think it’s important that digital applications, best practices, etc, be addressed in Journalism schools. I’ve helped and encouraged my daughter at creating a Facebook page and she’s also starting her own blog. She’s expressed an interest in majoring in communications, maybe Journalism, so I guess I have a very direct interest in what J schools are going to be including in the coming years. šŸ™‚

We’re smack dab in the middle, in the age of digital self-publishing and citizen journalism and the line between credible, authoritative reporting is getting blurred daily.

BUT I know that businesses will need to approach the opportunities of self-publishing and self-generated news content, and that the valued knowledge and integrity found in journalism professionals can be tapped to help communicate better, as we venture further into the 21st century.

I teach and subscribe to the notion that companies, small business, entrepreneurs MORE THAN EVER, will NEED the research and reporting skills of journalists, to tell their stories online, in their Inbound Marketing campaigns, using all types of digital media marketing.

The development of “Content Creation/Management” departments at companies will need to co-exist or perhaps even replace, traditional PR/Marketing departments. At least IMHO. šŸ™‚

And I see vast usage of all MEDIA, converging together in one communications stream. That will require Journalism students to learn even more skills such as audio, video and other media types, to tell their stories online. Traditional TV outlets are already publishing more written word online (duh, I’m not stating anything new) and newspapers are all including video in their online delivery of information.

Journalists of the 21st century, seem to have a pretty good grasp on the digital online tools (at least that’s my perception, although many in the social media space think not) and integrating the best practices/information from computer science students and professors is highly valuable, I think. Not to mention anthropology, sociology (the social affects), finance, marketing and business departments.

I agree with Greg above, that innovation in J schools has in the past, been an anamoly. Perhaps this J Barcamp is the start of a new trend?

Wow, I’ll leave it at that, since I’ve gotten long-winded on my comment. In short, I’m really excited to be asked to be a part of the “Be A Better Journalist” event and also equally excited to hear about a Journalism Barcamp. I’m really hoping I can attend and I look forward to being in Eugene on Oct 24th. Hope to meet you there Daniel and the rest of your team.

Best wishes,

On Twitter: @EdBisquera Join me in the conversation!

Mortgage Matchmaker and Social Media Instructor/Consultant
to the Real Estate Industry, plus father of 3
When not exploring digital media marketing clients, he plays piano/keyboards at church and area events.
(360) 597-8283 cell

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