Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Central Campus update...

One of the inspirations for starting this project was the ambitious plans Duke University has for overhauling Central Campus. Officially, Duke has proposed creating a new student media center on this new campus, which could be home to The Chronicle, and as well as the student TV station (Cable13) and radio station (WXDU) and others.

The Chronicle, as an independent organization, needs to decide whether it wants to be part of the new Central Campus, or whether to push for a new home elsewhere. We'll be looking at the question of location and what role it plays in the newsroom of the future. But in general, we're agnostic about whether the newsroom we propose gets built on Central or somewhere else. Hopefully, our research over the next year will guide us toward making a recommendation, and that could well be that Central is the best spot.

In any case, because Central Campus looms large at Duke and for this project, I'll be providing regular updates on the progress of the campus planning. Here, then, is a story that appeared the Herald-Sun of Durham on July 17, nothing that Duke has selected a new architect (registration required), something that sounds exciting, but will also delay the project's groundbreaking for at least a year. That's fine with us, because it gives us more breathing room to pursue this project and get a proposal in the hands of Duke officials next May:

Duke University has hired one of the world's top architects to take a fresh look at the design for its Central Campus redevelopment and spell out exactly how the project should unfold over the next 50 years.

Campus leaders announced the choice of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects on Tuesday. The firm's founder, Cesar Pelli, will lead the project team personally and said he expects to deliver a tentative master plan for Central Campus to Duke's Board of Trustees in February.

Pelli, who's 80, is renowned as the designer of Malaysia's Petronas Towers and a host of other noteworthy projects in cities throughout the world. His firm's credits include campus plans for the University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, and two brand-new campuses in Argentina, Pelli's native country.


Provost Peter Lange and other Duke officials are equally happy about bringing Pelli on board, although they concede the upcoming design work will delay the start of construction on Central Campus by about a year, until at least late 2008.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Meet Roan Oh...

I finally got around to registering for Second Life. Which means, of course, that I created my avatar: Roan Oh. There's some significance to the first name, which I may share later. But for now, here he/I is/am:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Newspaper Next...

There are so many things a journalist has to be that just weren't on the radar when I graduated and got my first full-time newspaper job in 1992. Here's a couple more to add to the list: innovator and entrepreneur.

This struck me last week as I was reading the Newspaper Next report that came out in August 2006. The study was commissioned by the American Press Institute to figure out ways that newspapers can reinvent their business and content to survive and prosper in this turbulent era. No matter whether you agree with it, it ought to be required reading for anyone working at a newspaper these days.

I downloaded it because the paper where I work full-time, is about to embark on a process of "blowing up" the entire paper in the wake of our latest layoffs. Over the next three or four months, we'll be re-examining and re-imagining every part of our business using the Newspaper Next process.

I have some criticisms of the NN outlook. But on the whole, I think it provides some important, and hopeful thinking. What I particularly liked were a couple things.

First, it reminds me that the reasons people used to read newspapers went beyond just the news that people like me wrote about. They came for a variety of reasons, from reading the comics, to getting the school lunch menu, to finding out about events in their community, and to buy and sell things. We've lost our monopoly on all these things, not just news reporting. Overall, the newspaper was the thing that tied together and defined a community. News is just a part of this equation, though an important one obviously.

But second, as we try to rethink out business, the NN process tells us to figure out what "jobs" we can do for people, with the goal of finding new services to provide. I think there a lot of these, actually. And this makes me hopeful about the future of newspaper. Actually, it makes me incredibly excited. With all the technology available, and all the information on local communities sitting around newspapers, there are a lot of opportunities. It won't be easy, by any means, but it's possible.

But turning my eye back to this project, the Next Newsroom, it also makes me realize that preparing a college journalist for the future means instilling that instinct for innovation and entrepreneurship. They will constantly have to be reinventing themselves, and their industry. It won't be an option just to pound out a few stories and leave the rest to others. Everyone will have to be a part of the process, or it will stall and fail. And newspapers will place a high premium on people who can not only report, investigate, and tell stories, but also identify services and communities that a newspaper could serve.

The trick now: How to incorporate that ethic into the ideal newsroom?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

As we launch this project, one of the folks I'm eager to talk to is Juan Antonio Giner, founder of the INNOVATION Media Consulting Group. Giner and his folks have done a lot of consulting and thinking about the design of newsrooms going forward. He's been very critical of the new New York Times newsroom, which he considers too "boxy."

By contrast, here is a video of the new newsroom designed for the The Daily Telegraph in the U.K. They used a hub design which they think will lead to more natural collaboration, more integration, and more innovation.

Check it out:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The video of the new NY Times newsroom

Check out this video the NY Times has posted about its move to the new digs. It seems the staff, including the executive editor, have some odd feelings about it. "It's like a movie set." "It feels like everyone should be wearing Prada."

Another Knight experiment

Among the other Knight grant winners this year, one that I'll be watching closely is the new Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship that's being created at Arizona State University. They're not building a new newsroom. But they are looking at some creative ways of getting student journalists to work with business, engineering, and design students. This will all be taking place in a brand new journalism building they've opened on a new campus in downtown Phoenix.

Fast Company

If there's anyone obsessed with the future and all things new, it's the folks at Fast Company. The business magazine just moved into a new office in New York. Yes, it's a magazine. And it's very unlikely that any college media are going to be moving into any large, glass skyscrapers in the near future.

Still, the interior design and layout can be seen on this slideshow posted on the Fast Company website. And it's worth noting how they describe the various design elements in terms of the values and goals of the magazine.