Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Two-day seminar on digital future of community newspapers, Oct. 20-21, will be webcast

Rural newspaper editors and publishers have a chance to hear the latest thinking about community newspapers and the digital age in a seminar to be webcast next Thursday and Friday.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, with the help of the Missouri Press Association, is holding the free conference for community newspaper publishers and editors. "Community Newspapers: Tomorrow has Arrived" boasts an impressive lineup; here are some examples, starting with the first two presentations:

"How Life Changes When High-Speed Broadband Arrives:" Esther Thorson, graduate dean of the journalism school, is a leading researcher in the field. Perhaps she will offer one of the most instructive statistical comparisons we have ever heard: In 2003, the last year that more Americans had dialup than broadband, an Arbitron survey found that the average household with dialup spent 24 minutes a day with a printed newspaper, and those with broadband spent only 6.6 minutes per day. Broadband offers compelling content, such as video, and in the competition for readers' and viewers' time, newspapers must also offer compelling content.

"Mobile is Critical:" Roger Fidler, digital publishing director at the Reynolds Institute, may wake up his listeners with this consensus prediction: By 2013, more than half of all Internet access is expected to be obtained through mobile devices. Newspapers must be mobile, and that is especially true in rural areas, where many residents commute long distances to work and research by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues suggests that the longer the commute, the less likely they are to read their local newspaper.

The first two presentations on Friday's schedule are "Three Things That You Must Own," with Assistant Professor Stephanie Padgett of the J-school, Bill Miller Jr. of the Washington Missourian, Brad Gentry of the Houston Herald and Andy Waters of the Columbia Daily Tribune; and "Believers, Nonbelievers and Fence Straddlers: Community Newspapers and the Web in 2011," from Gary Sosniecki of TownNews.com and Mike McKean, director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Institute.

The seminar will be held Thursday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT and Friday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m, to 2:30 p.m. CDT. The link for the webcast is www.rjionline.org/live. For the full agenda, speaker biographies and other information, click here.

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