The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

May 22, 2014

Innovation pilot at Hampton University to prepare new journalists

Posted by Brett A. Pulley

Brett A. Pulley is dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., which is receiving $245,000 in funding from Knight Foundation to create a pilot program for a Center for Innovation in Digital Media.  Above: HU Scripps Howard students get first hand experience on-camera and behind-the-scenes in the school's TV studio. Photo credit: Hampton University.

The precipitous decline in value of traditional content producers, together with the extraordinary rise in value of new digital distribution platforms, has brought us to where we are today – a period full of both tremendous uncertainty and opportunity.

For the old gatekeepers of media, it’s a time of uncertainty, as these companies search vigorously to find new ways to capture consumers on new platforms and generate strong profit margins at the same time. However, the gates of media are wide open. The opportunity to find ways to profitably blend quality content with burgeoning digital platforms abounds. Students such as ours who possess digital instincts and unconventional ideas will chart the future of the journalism and communications industries. Global media needs a new breed of diverse, innovative, young thinkers, and we here at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications aim to fulfill that need with our Center for Digital Media Innovation.

By establishing a pilot for the center, Knight Foundation is helping the Scripps Howard School move to the forefront of educational institutions preparing the media workforce of the future. As the dean here at Scripps Howard, I want to ensure we are in the vanguard of  insitutions charting the future of our industry at this exciting time of great disruption, creativity and opportunity. Our students will be among those who will play an integral role in researching, creating and implementing new innovations in media.

We are designing the center to attract students from across disciplines, bringing together creative minds from disciplines such as computer science, business and journalism. Together, they can learn about how their disciplines increasingly intersect in the marketplace, and, moreover, they can work together to create products, conduct media research and help solve problems faced by today’s major media companies.

The pilot is only the beginning. My mission is to raise $5 million for a fully funded center, which could be housed on one of the top floors of a recently acquired, modern university building that overlooks the city of Hampton. In addition to being a place where new products and ideas take shape, the Center for Digital Media Innovation at Hampton University will become a critical outlet for teaching and training young people to succeed in the world of digital information, and helping traditional media entities to not only survive, but flourish into the future.

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