The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Alex de Carvalho is the first Knight Innovator in Residence at Florida International University.
In the last decade, a wave of innovation in digital technologies has transformed the way we produce, deliver and consume media. As digital services, social utilities and smart devices grow in features and sophistication, the media industry must continue to adapt and redefine how they employ new technologies – or they will inevitably fall by the wayside. Companies of all sizes must also learn to employ, master and innovate digitally if they are to effectively compete in a faster and more crowded communications landscape.
Over the past eight years of creating professional associations and tech events, I have found myself in mentoring positions; it was a calling I didn’t realize I had. Through my successive work experiences, the common thread has been in helping companies and people to communicate better and more effectively online. My experiences in the U.S. and in Europe as the founder of media-related startups, as a business strategy and marketing consultant, and as an adjunct professor and small-business educator, have all rewarded me with insights obtained from looking at similar problems from various angles.
This is why I am so pleased to serve as the first Knight Innovator in Residence at the FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication. With more than 2,000 students, spread in five undergraduate majors and three graduate programs, the school is one of the largest journalism and mass communication schools or colleges in the country. One of only four accredited journalism and mass communication programs in Florida, and the only one in South Florida, it has charted new paths by hiring several multimedia/social media professors, creating a new undergraduate program in digital media and developing a digital media master’s program.
As the Knight Innovator, my objective over the next 12 months will be to accelerate these paths as an educator, a catalyst and a scholar. As an educator, I will work together with faculty members to identify opportunities in the curriculum and to develop seminars, projects, workshops and traditional/nontraditional courses that will help fill those curricular gaps. As a catalyst, I will work to create new initiatives and to accelerate existing innovation programs, including the Media Innovation Incubator Lab, as well as to develop ties with outside constituencies. As a scholar, I look forward to working with students and faculty to develop projects rooted in real-world problems and questions, helping to solidify the school as a solutions center for the community and media.
In particular, I am excited about developing closer ties and partnerships with media companies, organizations and potential partners off campus, including both traditional and new media; well-established and startup companies; and large and small outfits in a variety of technology and media-related fields. Students will benefit from partnerships and closer ties with South Florida’s burgeoning tech and social media communities, which are comprised of digital entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists, social good companies, journalists and politicians. These large associations and co-working spaces, many of which benefit from the support of Knight Foundation, host many events and conferences throughout the year which help establish South Florida as a leading region for technology innovation.
We will do our part to contribute and advance South Florida’s thought leadership by organizing events, conferences, seminars, symposia and hackathons at the school and jointly with other organizations. We welcome the opportunity to connect with thought leaders locally and throughout the Americas and beyond, to learn about their projects and startups. We will also create educational events and programs for recent graduates, alumni and mid-career professionals.
Ultimately, the media industry, companies of all sizes and knowledge workers will only succeed based on their capacity to learn, adapt and adopt new digital communication technologies. I am thankful to get an opportunity to develop and mentor others and to help make an impact at a greater scale, with the objective of developing future communication professionals in South Florida. My hope is that everyone involved will have access to fresh ideas, and will learn new skills and technologies that will have a lasting impact on their careers.