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Mobile reporting: At the tip of the innovation spear

Val Hoeppner

Digital journalist teaches students by using the latest technology

While some of us struggle to stay abreast of the ever changing development of technological tools for reporting and presenting news, Val Hoeppner is using these tools to teach future journalists while testing the newest technology as it surfaces.

Hoeppner is a digital journalist, trainer and media strategist. She has worked in digital, mobile and multi-platform journalism for more than 15 years.

Hoeppner is the director of the Center for Innovation in Media at Middle Tennessee State University, CEO of Val Hoeppner Media and Consulting, and an instructor with the Poynter Institute, the Newseum Institute, Chips Quinn Scholars, Native American Journalism Fellowship, Innovation J-Camp and APME News Train.

She is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, Online News Association, Associated Press Photo Managers and American Society of News Editors.

Hoeppner explains the types of technology students in her program are operating, and offers a peek inside the future of mobile reporting and multi-platform journalism.

NL: Please describe a specific example of the type of mobile reporting or multi-platform journalism your program includes. VH: At the Center for Innovation in Media at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) we are home to all of the University’s student media and a National Public Radio station. We have a great partnership with Dr. Ken Blake who runs the MTSU Poll and teaches data journalism. Dr. Blake helps our students analyze and visualize data on topics like elections, social media chatter, crime stats and campus assault.

The data and visualizations are then used by Sidelines, our digital daily student newspaper; MT10 News television; and WMTS 88.3, our student run radio station.

In addition, we are launching a mobile app that will converge stories from our digital news team, television and radio journalists. The story mix will reflect the strengths of each medium, re-imagined specifically for the smart phone.

NL: What kind of technology are you using to create better story telling or news presentation? How does it help?

VH: We are really focused on telling stories on mobile for mobile. We use iPads and iPhones with a long list of apps like iMovie, FilmIc Pro, Genius Scan, Audio Boom, Canva and Evernote to produce multimedia.

We also use online apps like DataWrapper and to make interactive charts and graphics that work both on mobile and the web. Journalists create spreadsheets using Google Sheets and upload them into DataWrapper or to bring the data to life.

Paring down the technology has allowed our journalists to concentrate on telling deeper stories without the coding barrier.

NL: What is something really new and cool that you are teaching, something most of us do not know?

VH: We are beginning to work with an iPhone app called VideoShop that allows you to create social videos for Vine, Instagram and Snapchat. The cool part is that you can use the same video to produce three different versions of the social video story.

Our journalists are also getting up to speed on live video from apps like Periscope and Meerkat.

NL: What is your vision of the future of news reporting beyond what is available today? VH: I think news reporting will continue to thrive with two very focused goals: short, timely stories for mobile and wearable platforms; and longer explanatory stories for multiple platforms. Video will be a significant story driver.

Stories will be designed for mobile users with easy to read, structured journalism, video shot and edited for the small screen and more live streaming video from the field.

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