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Dan Reimold wrote a spot-on post on College Media Matters today, focusing on the potential perils and pitfalls of some of the new models for new media. I want it all to be great. I want these new ways of publishing to be fair and free and push democracy to new heights. But, (enter the nattering nabobs of negativity) but Reimold and others raise just the questions we all should be asking as we push ahead.

New Student Site: One-Stop Shop or Pretend Journalism?

I’m ambivalent.  Here’s the deal: The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced it is launching a new Web site aimed at providing a platform for the journalistic and creative work of college students throughout the Philly area, according to a new report in The Hawk at Saint Joseph’s University.  News reports, op-eds, blogs, photos, even fiction pieces are all fair game for the soon-to-be-active site, which apparently will feature dedicated areas for each school involved.

If the idea actually works, I envision an interesting mishmash of a site that might draw students in occasionally to see what their peers are passionately espousing or creatively vetting.  If the idea flounders, it will join the ranks of the growing number of what I’ve started calling pretend journalism sites, pseudo-professional outlets that seem more just for their creators to have a place to publish and not for the audience to actually have something worth reading or watching.

The question I am left with that makes me cynical about this particular venture: What does it *really* offer average students that their campus newspapers, the blogosphere, Facebook, and other area outlets do not already provide?  Sure, a one-stop shop for all types of content can be convenient, or it can come across like an overwhelming, inexplicable campus graffiti wall.

Posted, July 17, 2008
UF j-school to create “media farm” for innovation, research
Gainesville Sun
A new University of Florida center will be a “media farm” for growing knowledge about digital journalism. The school’s Center for Media Innovation and Research will train students in digital media and house a think tank conducting research in the field, says UF College of Journalism and Communications Dean John Wright. The first phase of the center will be the construction of a “21st Century Newsroom and Laboratory.” || Read the release.

This new media lab/experiment/farm team model sounds like a marvelous answer to the questions a lot of us are struggling with, including the content/technology balance. I was thrilled to read this in the press release:

The CMIR (pronounced “simmer”) will specialize in original, in-depth news reporting on issues of interest to local, regional, national and international audiences, and it will tell those important stories using new, experimental methods…..

I’m eager to keep track of this project.