Lectures lead to embracing digital media

Cherubs decorated laptops with stickers from the Knight Lab. Photo by Lalla-Aicha Adouim

The 2019 cherubs heard lectures to help them understand the changing media landscape and how the internet and technology continue to shape journalism.

Director Joe Germuska and Associate Professor Zach Wise introduced students to the The Knight Lab. The Knight Lab at Northwestern University focuses on creating technological tools, such as Timeline, to help people build digital, interactive timelines. Germuska and Wise discussed how their tools have been used to make websites more interactive, as well as how the media must change to accommodate different personas online.

Instructor Erica Snow, a Northwestern graduate and former Wall Street Journal intern, described how she uses such platforms as Twitter and Reddit to reach potential sources. She taught cherubs how to have a strong Twitter presence as well as the proper way to send messages to sources online. Snow showed cherubs messages she has sent through Instagram Direct Messaging as an example.

Mattea Vecera of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said she learned a lot about the hashtag process.

“I didn’t realize how much hashtags had to do with finding sources, and it helped me with my trend story,” she said, “I contacted about 35 people over Instagram DMs, just through the hashtags.”

Vercera also said the lecture helped her realize “the importance of my online presence.” She then decided to include Medill cherubs in her Instagram and Twitter bios.

Professor J.A. Adande explained how technology has influenced sports media, specifically the tools that publications have incorporated.

Andrew Katz of Paducah, Kentucky, said it was interesting to see “the use of different graphics and how you have to make things different from viewers.”

Adande showed an interactive animation created by The New York Times. The animation compared the running times of Olympic athletes from 2016 back to 1896, showing how much faster runners have become.

“I think that seeing all the lectures, digital is the future of all publications,” said cherub Megan McGregor of Philadelphia.