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Journalists and students to serve as ‘test pilots’

Victor HernandezThe highly anticipated release of the Apple Watch last week has one new RJI Fellow intrigued by its potential for digital storytelling and engagement.

News innovation strategist Victor Hernandez, formerly of CNN, will spend eight months exploring the impact of wearable technology on newsrooms as a 2015-2016 nonresidential fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Hernandez says his research is intended to lay a foundation for future testing and experimentation.

“The wearables space is red hot right now, specifically smartwatches, which are garnering lots of buzz and intrigue,” said Hernandez. “As news content producers and publishers, we’re faced with a terrific opportunity to get in on the ground floor of exciting innovation and implementation through effective exploration and collaboration.”

Hernandez plans to partner with local and national news organizations to experiment with the technology and study potential journalistic applications.

Hernandez plans to partner with local and national news organizations to experiment with the technology and study potential journalistic applications.

The goal of the partnerships is to arrive at a reasonable consensus regarding effective features and applications for journalism, illustrate effective use case examples, gather critical user feedback on suggested application and workflow improvements, and identify any hardware/software opportunities not yet available, he says.

Hernandez will also seek help from faculty members and students at the Missouri School of Journalism in his testing and research.

“As part of this collaborative project, I’ll be working with select fellow ‘journalism test pilots’ who are interested in leveraging emerging trends for more engaged storytelling, as to better reflect a communal voice across industry,” he says.

He sees the exploration process as an opportunity to share feedback and suggestions with smartwatch developers.

“I don’t know if Apple will be doing backflips over what we have to say during the fellowship as results start to come in,” says Hernandez, “but it will be important to open a channel with them.” He imagines meeting with a smartwatch developer and saying, “As a journalism community, these are the things that intrigued us, these are the pathways for enhancing storytelling and audience experiences. Here is a list of things we would recommend you prioritize for future iterations.”

During the fellowship Hernandez and his team will be developing what he’s calling a wearables playbook, with recommended equipment, best practices, approaches to workflow, recommendations for future technology, and case studies.

As the technology continues to evolve, he sees the playbook changing as well, he says.

“It’s going to have to be continually updated and likely grow over time as new features are introduced, new applications are deployed and as further experimentation takes place.”

Jennifer Nelson  
   
Senior Information Specialist



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