Looking back at a semester of Participatory Journalism

And so it’s over . . . Well, almost.

The Spring 2017 semester is wrapping up, which means it is time for a little introspection.

Participatory Journalism, taught by Amy Simons, gave me a lot to think about. During this master’s degree program, I continually try to look at everything through the lens of being a journalism teacher and adviser. This class showed me there are several ways I can improve my work and give my students the tools and opportunities to grow as digital journalists, a point I’ve written about frequently on this site.

“Engaged Journalism: Connecting with Digitally Empowered News Audiences” by Jake Batsell

I found the primary textbook used for this class, “Engaged Journalism: Connecting with Digitally Empowered News Audiences” by Jake Batsell, to be a great read. I even read it all the way through before doing so was assigned. This isn’t something I can say of most textbooks assigned to me as a student. Usually I only read what I have to, but this book pulled me in. I enjoyed reading about Batsell’s insights into various methods of online engagement. Some of the examples he provides are fascinating. I don’t know if I ever would have come across the book on my own, but I’m glad this class exposed me to it. It is going onto my book shelf with other reference-style books. It’s a manual for how to do online engagement, and though technologies may change, the core ideas he presents will last regardless of technological advancements.

A lot was thrown at us over the course of the semester, and I hope to be able to apply all of my newfound knowledge to my professional life. It won’t happen overnight, but it is something I am going to actively pursue moving forward.

The most important takeaway from this class, though, has little to do with the subject matter. It forced me to blog again.

I have a personal blog and a teacher blog. The teacher blog gets updated daily, but only with homework details for my students. It’s not Earth-shattering stuff. My personal blog gets updated far too infrequently. I recently moved it over to a self-hosted WordPress install in hopes that it would give me more capacity to do audio and video content, but that hasn’t happened yet. With graduate school in full swing, writing for that platform seems to be the least of my worries. That makes me sad. I’ve had the blog alive for many years. Allowing it to grow stale is disheartening. However, with the required weekly posts of this class, I’m hoping I can capitalize on that momentum and breathe new life into the site.

So what does that mean for this blog? Well, I don’t plan on killing it. I have enjoyed this platform, which has a more specialized focus. I could see eventually folding it into my personal blog so these posts appear along side my more mundane postings. Or, perhaps I could turn it into a standalone site where I actually cover the intersection of journalism, education and technology . . . and grow it into something reputable like Jay Rosen’s PressThink or Mark Glaser’s MediaShift.

Big aspirations, I realize, but I might as well aim high, right? And that’s what this class has inspired me to do. I love technology and journalism, but I don’t do much to combine those two passions. Even the journalism company I own is based on print. I need to reevaluate all of that even further than I already have.

Yes, the future will be interesting and exciting. Here’s to making the most of it and successfully completing another semester of the University of Missouri School of Journalism master’s degree program in Media Management.