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Young minds. Innovative technologies. Challenges in the journalism industry. Mix it all together and you’ve got the ingredients from this year’s RJI Tech Showcase, which was hosted by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

I felt like I was back in show-and-tell as students from the Missouri School of Journalism, as well as young people in engineering, computer science and business degree programs at the University of Missouri, proudly demonstrated the cool “techy” projects they’ve been working on diligently this semester.

The students are testing technologies such as mobile video, smartphone apps, Google Glass and data sensors to explore how these innovations can help journalists tell stories in new and different ways. The results could resolve some of the challenges facing the journalism industry.

For this blog, I want to focus on a few of the projects that caught my attention: Google Glass and Access Missouri.

Google Glass

I remember my days as a reporter trying to juggle camera equipment, tape recorders and notepads. It would have definitely come in handy to have a hands-free camera and audio-video recorder. Google Glass offers a first-person perspective you can’t get from a traditional camera.

But there a few hurdles the technology has to overcome before it’s available to the public.

Here are some points to consider if you’re thinking of test-driving the technology: The biggest takeaway: plan ahead.

  • Know what kind of videos you want to shoot. Google Glass’ battery life is short. Don’t plan on shooting an entire parade but rather short snippets. You can upload photos to Twitter but there can be issues with connectivity and challenges with uploading photos quickly.
  • Bring an external microphone if you plan to do any interviews. Google Glass has poor audio recording quality. The student presenters showed a video that was shot behind-the-scenes at The Oscars. However, videographers didn’t let the lack of audio recording quality stop them.
  • “They got creative and used signs instead [to convey their message],” says Karen Rodriguez, a student presenter who has been test-driving Glass.
  • View the Oscar video here.
  • Let the subject of your interview wear Glass, which will give your story another unique first-person perspective, not just your own. Something to consider: What kind of experience can you (or your source) provide the viewer that they may not have experienced before?
  • For every movement your head makes, the Glass makes it, too.
  • Make sure to ask people if it’s OK to record them.
  • Use Google Glass in well-lit situations. The video quality suffers in low-light situations. Unlike traditional cameras you aren't able to adjust quality settings with Glass, says Rodriguez. 

Are you already experimenting with Google Glass in your newsroom? Share your stories with me here.

Access Missouri

If you wanted to learn about your state representative’s voting record on a particular legislation topic, where would you look?

Although Missouri government data is public information, it’s not always easily accessible. Often it’s only found by wading through several websites  — a slow, time-consuming process.

A group of students began work on a database called Access Missouri that would cull legislative and agency information in one location. This information could include lobbyist gifts, roll call votes, information about legislators and campaign contributions.

The group would like to have a beta version of the site running by August in time for the primary elections.

In the meantime, check out OpenMissouri.org, a resource that connects citizens to databases stored offline by state and local government agencies. David Herzog, project manager and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, created the independent and nonpartisan platform while he was a 2010-2011 Reynolds Fellow at RJI.

Jennifer Nelson  
   
Senior Information Specialist


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