Dedication day symposium explores the future of digital media

By Katelyn Faubel

September 30, 2014

To help celebrate the dedication of the new Studio & Innovation Center, the Newhouse School hosted a symposium about the future of digital media on Monday, Sept. 29.

Dan Pacheco, Peter A. Horvitz endowed chair in journalism innovation, moderated the panel that included an accomplished group of digital media experts. The panel focused on the recent advancements in digital storytelling and the future of media from YouTube to gaming to the Oculus Rift.

The panel included: Mitch Gelman, vice president of product for Gannett Digital; Kristina Hahn ’98, head of consumer packaged goods at Google; Larry Hryb ’89, Xbox Live director of programming for Microsoft; and Ed Wise senior vice president of Turner Digital Ad Sales with special focus on branded entertainment.

Hahn began by explaining the evolution of Google. She says mobile search will soon surpass desktop search and that Google registers 100 billion searches per month, 15 percent of which are new.

Hahn also works with YouTube, which is owned by Google. Hahn says news is a growing area for YouTube and she showed several examples of how the Internet video platform is offering news in a variety of ways.

An audience member expressed concern that too often people are getting their news through non credible, online outlets.  

Hyrb says he too is concerned as there is a modern trend of posting inaccurate news with a sensational headline to draw readers and clicks. Gelman says news professionals need to ask themselves who is responsible for allowing a vacuum of false media to exist.

Wise says he thinks viewers can tell the difference between real and fake news.

“The audience is really smart, especially on the Web (…) at the end of the day, it has been going on for years it is just on a different platform now,” Wise says.

Wise, who helped launch FunnyOrDie.com, says great content while making people laugh makes for good branding. Hahn noted that content isn’t everything.

“Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants,” Hahn says.

Pacheco and Gelman shared a recent project the two collaborated on with the Des Moines Register. The project uses 3-D technology to explore the changing nature farming in Iowa. This summer, Pacheco helped Gannett Digital create the “Harvest of Change” project using Unity 3D software, which users may explore with the Oculus Rift.

Hryb, an award-wining Xbox programmer for Microsoft, says he was amazed at the technology in the project, noting that it looked just like some early Xbox games. Gelman says he knows that in just a few years “Harvest of Change” will look pretty archaic, but they are excited to explore this new technology for storytelling.

The panelists were eager to share their own experiences and lessons in the rapidly changing world of digital media. Hahn drove home the point that change is good.

“Be uncomfortably excited about the disruption you can bring.”

Katelyn Faubel is a freshman newspaper and online journalism major in the Newhouse School, with a dual major in international relations in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Photos by Hong Gao, a graduate student in the multimedia, photography and design program at Newhouse.

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