Robert Gutsche Jr. wrote this article in collaboration with Susan Jacobson and Jacqueline Marino for EdShift.

It had been years since Alexa Jane used markers, tape, scissors and pens to make something. Today, though, she and others are taking to cardstock and paper, taping and drawing to discuss the next generation of mobile news.

classrooms as homes for creative, engaged research“I prefer to have the hands-on,” says Jane, a Digital Media Studies major at Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s easier to illustrate this way what we like instead of using text.”

Jane and her team construct screens and designs for interactive graphics to insert into a folder with a spot cut to the actual size of an iPhone 6 Plus. 

By cutting and pasting text and interactive elements on long, narrow strips of paper, the students work to transfer a long-form style article about rising sea levels in South Florida from the laptop to the mobile screen.

This is paper prototyping – a method of using Post-its, pens and imagination to design features of interactive media.

Used throughout the professional world to varying degrees and with a variety of alterations of the method, paper prototyping engages journalists and media users with thinking about design, interactivity and functionality of new formats and platforms.


The prototyping these students are doing is a pilot for part of a research project led by three Research Scholars at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Building upon an article about digital long-form journalism published in the journal Journalism, the project engages students and media users from communities in Ohio and Florida in ways that explore the degree to which long-form multimedia journalism is desired by audiences. It also looks at how the form may be molded for mobile audiences or altered to become a sustainable form of journalism for large and small media outlets.

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MU | Missouri School of Journalism | University of Missouri