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MU Researchers Collaborate to Predict Media of the Future

Mizzou Advantage studies impact of new media

August 2nd, 2010

Story Contact: MU News Bureau, 573-882-6211,
Charles Davis, the facilitator for the Media of the Future initiative.

Charles Davis, the facilitator for the Media of the Future initiative.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­—Today, we are in a virtual explosion of new media as social media and blogging have revolutionized the way people receive their daily news. Now, news coverage as well as examination of the news of today is instant and global, creating new opportunities and challenges never before even imagined. With this new media explosion, it is important to find ways to keep journalism alive by preserving the past while moving forward with future innovations. The University of Missouri has begun to explore both the cultural and economic impact of media of the future.

Identified as an initiative in the Mizzou Advantage, “Media of the Future” will draw on the School of Journalism’s century of international leadership in media research and hands-on training, along with other campus strengths in digital technologies, business, public policy, graphic design and creative writing. During a three-year process, MU faculty, students and alumni identified MU’s top competitive assets, or unique strengths, that set MU apart from other universities. These assets underlie five dynamic initiatives that collectively are called the Mizzou Advantage. Charles Davis, the facilitator for the Media of the Future initiative, notes the importance of collaborating with other fields to create new ideas and projects in order to remain at the forefront of new media in the future.

“MU’s School of Journalism has been interdisciplinary for years,” Davis said. “With the current economic model of journalism imploding, it is important to be entrepreneurial as we discover new ways for media to function within our changing culture.”

MU has budgeted $6 million annually to increase the impact of the Mizzou Advantage by funding various projects driven by networks of collaborators (faculty members, centers, departments, corporate partners and other universities).

One such project is “Opportunistic Discovery of Information”. Led by MU faculty members Sanda Erdelez, Guilherme DeSouza, Chi-Ren Shyu, Antonie Stam and Kevin Wise, this project brings together researchers from the College of Education, College of Engineering, Trulaske College of Business and the School of Journalism. The project’s leaders plan to study the current impact of opportunistic discovery of information (ODI) through a variety of perspectives. For example, they hope to discover whether aesthetics and design influence the path users take as they navigate the Web. The project leaders also plan to host the first International Workshop on ODI, bringing together experts from many fields to MU’s campus.

Another Mizzou Advantage-funded endeavor is the “Food, Fuel and Society” forum. The symposium, to be hosted on MU’s campus, will be a collaboration among three of the five Mizzou Advantage initiatives. The interactive day of discussion will be led by a diverse group of faculty members from the School of Journalism, the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, the College of Arts and Science, MU Extension, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute.  As a result of the “Food, Fuel and Society” forum, the project leaders hope to kick off the Midwest Local Journalism Center, an online network of organizations, journalists and citizens to promote education and understanding of the issues surrounding food and fuel production in the region.

“There is enthusiasm on campus, across disciplines about the new Local Journalism Center (LJC),” said Janet Saidi, an assistant professor of radio and television in the MU School of Journalism. “At the same time, there is a lot of enthusiasm about MU and the research, scholarship and multimedia training opportunities here among regional journalists participating with KBIA in the new LJC.”

Davis believes Mizzou Advantage will change the way the world views the University of Missouri. “There is a large amount of untapped potential at MU and Mizzou Advantage is facilitating positive conversations on how to delve into those unlimited resources,” Davis, who is also a journalism faculty member, said. “We are changing Mizzou’s culture from individual to collaborative, and that will lead to bigger and better things.”

The Mizzou Advantage was created to increase MU’s visibility, impact and stature in higher education, locally, statewide, nationally and around the world. An important first step in initiating the program is a round of grants, totaling more than $900,000, that will fund 26 networking and other projects. MU officials’ goal is that Mizzou Advantage will strengthen existing faculty networks, create new networks and propel Mizzou’s research, instruction and other activities to the next level.