First week at Reese News Lab: My mind is blown

May. 24, 2013 3:02 pm

My brain has exploded. It looks a lot like this:

For my first week in the Reese News Lab, I’ve been constantly exposed to new people, new concepts, new models and new ways of looking at things. As one member of a group of interns this summer, I hope to work with my colleagues to produce a mobile news application that will function as an innovative and user-friendly way for news organizations to stake their claim once again to the slick streets of the information highway.

But it hasn’t been easy. This is most definitely an area that’s out of my league. I’m a visual journalist, and have a bit of background in coding and writing, but my knowledge of the business side of things? Psh, please. Hence the brain guts.

But I’ve learned a lot. Whereas my brain has exploded as a result of the rapid-fire influx of information, what’s left are soft bits and pieces that I’ve managed to cobble together into some sort of sponge that tries to soak up whatever it is I’m hearing. And unfortunately, what I’m hearing is this:

It’s no secret that the stronghold of newspapers has been slipping over the past couple of decades. With the advent of the Internet, many newspapers began to lose their advertising clients to online sites, and their revenue declined drastically. Newspapers began churning out online editions of their papers, with the end result of dropping circulation as audiences turned to free Internet versions of the paper, rather than continue to pay for paper editions to be dropped at their door.

Mobile applications, or apps, have also played a part, for better or for worse, in the world of news. While we’ve discussed reports citing the increasing prevalence and use of mobile devices in our everyday lives (like the fact that 38 percent of our interactions with the media occur on a smartphone, according to a Google Think Insights study), many of my personal insights into this endeavor have come from interacting with my own peers. And my fears for the future of journalism have also been tempered by the talents, skills and perspectives of my fellow interns.

Reese News Lab staffers Lincoln Pennington, Annie Daniel and Simone Duval pitch a product called "Stealthy Sleeper" during an activity, May 21, 2013. Photo: Sara Peach

Reese News Lab staffers Lincoln Pennington, Annie Daniel and Simone Duval pitch a product called “Stealthy Sleeper” during an activity, May 21, 2013. Photo: Sara Peach

There are eight of us, and we each bring something different to the table. There are a few political science junkies, those that are business-minded, those that know nothing of the sort (ahem, me), and those who are bilingual—in languages both human and computer. We’re all young, college students, and though it might seem like we’re trying to tackle the unsolvable, I know by this first week that we are a formidable group. Yes, we may not emerge at the end of the summer with a brand-spanking-new mobile application, but I think we’ll at least have an idea. And judging by the plethora of concepts we’ve come up with in four days, I think it’ll be a pretty good one.

So thank you to Annie, Azul, Daniel, Hannah, Lilly, Lincoln and Nikki. Your boundless enthusiasm and ever-reaching imaginations have not only been the culprit for my brain explosion, but also the reason I’ve been able to pick the pieces up and put them back together. The lines between creative and analytical, analytical and critical, have been boldly underlined this week. So has the reason for my being here.