Monday, July 19, 2010

The ideaLab and beyond

There have been some major changes happening at the Journal Register Company over the past few months.

The news organization, which owns The Record in Troy, N.Y. as well as 17 other daily publications across the country, recently adopted a "Digital First - Print Last" way of thinking under the leadership of its new CEO, John Paton.

For July 4th, Paton challenged all daily newspapers in the company to produce a publication online and in print using only free web-based tools as part of The Ben Franklin Project, a major step for the news industry and a company that has had a troubled past.

In May, Paton announced the ideaLab as a way to embrace the future of journalism.

Made up of 15 members from across the company and its properties, the ideaLab is charged with experimenting with the latest technology and tools to help the company think differently about our daily operations. Each member will soon be equipped with either an iPhone or Motorola Droid, an iPad, and a netbook. They will also be provided with 10 hours of paid time per week to experiment with the tools and a $500 per-month stipend for the work they'll be do doing on company time as well as their own.

On July 11, I was honored to learn I had been selected as a member of the ideaLab.

This is a great opportunity to be able to use some of the latest and most-talked-about technology available today, as well as have the chance to try and influence how a major media company works to move out of the past and into the future.

Like many around the world, I have watched news of the iPhone and iPad since they were first announced.

The iPad
(AP Photo/The Daily Press ,Sangjib Min)

I have always had a great interest in technology and both of these gadgets have been seen as revolutionary since they were first announced.

It's very exciting to get a chance to use these devices for work and to learn about better ways we can learn to use technology like this to improve the way The Record and other JRC papers deliver the news to our readers.

The story so far...

It's been a little over a week since we were chosen for this initiative and there's already been plenty of discussion going on.

Even before any of the technology has arrived, the group has been quite active on our Facebook group discussing what we'd like to see happen next.

We're also on Twitter - follow the conversation with the hashtag #JRCideaLab

There has been talk of designing applications for mobile phones, creating mobile versions of our websites, and, as always, asking our readers what they'd like to see.

Personally, I have begun trying to start learning how to create iPhone and iPad applications.

Photo credit -

Having no computer programming background, I figured this would be a daunting task, but it's actually been quite interesting as I've started to work my way through Rory Lewis' "iPhone and iPad Apps for Absolute Beginners."

So far, I've only created the simplest of applications where you press a button to have text or images appear as a result, but I think this is a valuable skill to learn, especially with what we're hoping to do with the ideaLab.

I've also been on the hunt for valuable iPhone/iPad applications that a journalist could benefit from. With more than 200,000 apps out there, it'll take some browsing to find all the great ones, but between myself and other members of the group, we've already found some great tools that could make a difference in how we present the news.

Going forward, I hope to use this blog to update everyone on the progress of the ideaLab and showcase/discuss technology and software that I believe will be beneficial for journalists and readers alike.

In my next post I'll have some examples of the apps we've found so far and can't wait to try out. Feel free to submit your suggestions to my e-mail or send me an @ message on Twitter.



Anonymous HTML and gear delays « Digital Future said...

[...] tinkering with the steps to develop the iPad and iPhone applications from the book I had mentioned previously. It’s been slow going so far and has basically still involved writing examples of code that [...]

August 17, 2010 at 8:38 AM 

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