Here’s To You, (Mr.) Robinson

You want to know what I learned this semester, John Robinson?

I learned that a fascinating class and a snowy winter makes for a semester gone by too fast.

I learned that media is changing, but that we have the power to change it even more.

Most importantly I learned that you believe we can.

On my first day in this class I was terrified. No, I was not worried about blogging three times a week or even class discussions. While the media presentation was a bit frightening, not even that compared to how scared I was of a future in mass media.

Some professors take the, “Yeah, it’s changing, good luck” approach to preparing us for post-graduation life. Others, the “Future is scary, kid. How are you going to prepare,” attitude.

JOMC 240 was all about, “You are the people changing the industry, you have the power, go make a difference.”

I know you want to hear all about how I learned how things go viral and that good content matters. That I realized how video makes the most impact and social media will change democracy. Or maybe even that local news and papers need to survive.

But I learned something more than that: I learned how to think.

It is not about the problems we face as journalists, as advertisers or as public relations specialists. It is about the way to solve those problems.

In this class I discovered how to think about the issues we will certainly face

For example…

The Problem: Fewer people are watching local TV news.

How it affects me: I want to report local news on TV.

How I will fix it: Make myself relevant. Report content people demand. Have a reliable social media following. Connect with viewers. Guarantee an audience no matter the platform. Use the technology and tools of the day to stand out.

Yes, I have to figure it out how to be the change I wish to see in the (media) world, but it is not as scary now that I know what to do and how to approach it.

It isn’t what I learned in the class:

  1. Nothing is set in stone. We did not even use a schedule or receive an outline of topics we would cover this semester. Why? Because who knew what was going to happen.
  2. Media is different today than it was even yesterday. People don’t read papers. Teens don’t watch TV news. Facebook is out. Snapchat is in.
  3. Consumers don’t care about news that doesn’t care about them. News needs to be personalized. It needs to matter to the people we want to read it.
  4. Privacy matters. Yeah, even if I am not doing anything wrong I don’t necessarily want someone else seeing it. But you can have my Twitter password for a Twix…
  5. It has to be easy. Don’t make consumers work for their news. “If you build it, they,” will come does not apply here.
  6. Blogs are pretty cool. In every interview I have had for a summer internship they have asked me about specific blog posts I made this semester. Simply knowing a little more about something new in mass media can make a huge difference.
  7. Social media can change how we live. Social movements. New stories in the media. Cat videos. They all start here.
  8. Connection is easier… so connect. The more people you link with, in some way, the better. They become loyal viewers.
  9. We have to make money, somehow. I just don’t know how yet.
  10. I was right to fight to get in this class. Thanks for letting me in, even though you were already over the room capacity.

Yes, that might be what I was taught, but it is not all that I learned.

So here’s to you, “Mr.” Robinson. Thanks for easing my fears and preparing for a real life in the real world, with real problems and, now, real solutions.

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