Product & Platform: Concepts to Use With Your Student Journalists Right Now

Sometimes the language we use about journalism is dense or only well-suited for journal articles. Other times, our word choices are born of important innovations in the industry that just might shape the future of the profession.

The terms “product” and “platform” are two of those words that have meaning beyond the dictionary. These concepts can and should shape how students think about reporting at all levels—starting today.

What’s interesting? Both concepts rely on the same philosophy of media fragmentation. Our audiences are in different places at different times and want different things from our storytelling. So, we need to think strategically about where we deliver our reporting (product), as well as how we package our stories (platform).

What does this mean? The earlier journalism students learn how to think about content delivery to a specific audience with technology and the business side in mind, the better—that’s product. At the same time, when the products are decided, students need to process what specific tools will best tell each part of the story, without replication between those parts—that’s a multiplatform philosophy.

This is hard.

There seem to be limitless options (or perhaps very few, depending on your program). But, I encourage you to extend the brainstorming or invention portion of your news or pitch meetings in this way. Even if you don’t have access to all of the products or platforms you would like, how can you help your students think through what’s possible and what’s best?

  • Would this information best be delivered with an email newsletter product with mostly photo and video platform content inside?
  • Would this breaking news reach more of our audience quickly as a Vox-style social video on Instagram or Facebook rather than a traditional newspaper piece or web article?
  • Would our audience be more engaged in the community if they received push alerts from an app product that provided infographics and long-form deep dives into the controversial topics that matter to them?

The journalists in our Grady College, University of Georgia newsroom that I am most impressed by most are those who can deftly think through what product(s) can best deliver newsworthy information to our audience with multiple platforms that help complete the narrative. These are the journalists that are desired for job opportunities and innovative enough to transform the newsrooms they end up working within.

And, “product” and “platform” can start being part of your newsroom discussions today.

Amanda Bright

Amanda Bright, PhD, MJE, is a journalism academic professional at the University of Georgia, Grady College. Before that, she was a journalism instructor and yearbook adviser at Eastern Illinois University, a scholastic journalism adviser for newspaper and yearbook in Mattoon, Ill., a member of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, and a professional journalist.

Amanda Bright has 22 posts and counting. See all posts by Amanda Bright

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