Today’s guest on the world-renowned Five and One series is Marissa Raymo, a member of the special projects team at The Oakland Press and the paper’s Horse Sense blogger. [Editor’s Note: She is also married to one of my best friends.]
Before we dive into the questions, I want to briefly explain why I asked Marissa to participate.
I am fascinated by the digitization of news media. The entrepreneurial journalists that “get it” are quickly starting to establish their presence over those who don’t, and Marissa is involved in a project that seeks to explore how new digital tools can enhance the news-gathering process. It’s really quite a fascinating project, but I don’t want to steal her thunder, so let’s get down to business.
What is the ideaLab?
The ideaLab is comprised of 18 Journal Register employees from various departments (editorial, sales, circulation, IT, and production) that were selected by our CEO John Paton and Advisory Board to experiment “with the latest technology and tools to help our company think differently about what we do and how we do it.” We were each given an Apple iPad, HP netbook, iPhone or Droid (based on our preference), and 25% of our work week to experiment and innovate. Pretty cool, right?
In your opinion, how are iPads and Flipcams changing how newspapers operate?
Our mobile tools have not only allowed us to transform into a multimedia company, but they have also allowed us to mobilize the print aspect of our business as well. Our reporters now upload stories and videos remotely, live stream at local events, and integrate print & digital with QR codes. One of our newspapers out of Connecticut recently opened it’s newsroom to the public as a newsroom café. Mobile technology allows us to be more in touch with the people we serve everyday.
You work for The Oakland Press. What is the consensus among some of the seasoned employees when it comes to the digitization of newspapers?
For the most part, I feel like people are excited about the changes. Digital First allows us to broaden our product offerings and the way we offer them. It also opens up the opportunity for new faces within our organization to step forward and make a contribution to the big picture (i.e. ideaLab). It’s been exciting and overwhelming and a bit scary at times, but mainly, exciting.
How difficult has it been to change perceptions on the news-gathering process?
At this point, it seems that most people have at least accepted the Digital First approach, if not completely embraced it. It was never really a question anyway. This is the way the industry is going and those that don’t want to follow along will eventually fall behind. I’m not sure why the perceptions of the newspaper business are so much different than other industries though. It’s still business and we have to evolve to meet the needs of our customers. It’s really that simple.
How do you plan to factor in what you’ve learned through ideaLab in your career?
The ideaLab has really allowed me to test the limits of my abilities. I had ideas before (more like fleeting thoughts), but never would have imagined that they could make a difference. Eventually I hope to use these skills to move into a position in digital product development and/or digital product sales training.
Finally, the “and One” portion of the interview: I know you enjoy writing. Who are your writing heroes?
Hmmm, that’s a toughie. I look up to writers that know how to “keep it real” without sacrificing their audience in the process. A few of my favorites would be Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, Stieg Larsson, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Jordan, William Faulkner….oh, and of course Brad Marley. [Editor’s Note: Of course.]
I’d like to thank Marissa for flattering me taking time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions. I hope this helps provide some insight into the changing face of journalism.
You can read all of the interviews in this series here.