Online Journalism Symposium

Many of the presenters from the symposium touched on some great concepts, but the presenter I found myself enjoying the most was Juan Sanchez from Spain. It was not just because of his accent although it is certainly a hook. But during his presentation he said “we are trying to give them a media that can be related with…we don’t get the money and run. We are building a community.”

I felt that what he said really resonated with a lot of things we’ve heard from the speakers that have visited in terms of audience engagement. People want to find an outlet that they can relate to so they can feel that connection. That is what will keep them coming back. If people feel they are being treated as merely ATM’s then it creates a detachment from the source and a loss in community. Sanchez emphasized the fact that they were given the people of Spain what they needed and played on that political demand. He found the source and aimed straight for it. Instead of them making money and copping out, they continued to play on that demand and become a valuable entity to their market as most businesses aspire to do.

ISOJ viewing

Watching the live stream that we were directed to was an interesting experience. The clip was full of speakers providing valuable perspective on issues facing journalists across the globe. Most interesting to me was Janine Warner of Sembra Media talking about the recent studies her organization has done in Latin American journalistic contexts.

Her discussion was striking because it gave me a new perspective on the value of digitally native, entrepreneurial, independent-minded news organization in fostering a democratic journalistic culture. She discussed why more traditional news organizations do not always break controversial stories. Lack of resources and government pressure/interference are both among them. These independent organizations, however, evade these concerns and break the controversial stories. I knew this to be true, but what she said next opened my eyes.

Once these stories are broken by independent organizations, they are picked up by mainstream news outlets both in their home country and beyond. In this way, independent news outlets liberate traditional ones because once something is out there and becomes news it must be reported on; it can’t be ignored. Thus, even if these outlets can’t break controversial items, they are empowered to bring exposure to them because of the work of independent organizations. This was a very provocative line of thought that I am glad to have encountered.

International Symposium on Online Journalism

When Li Zixin discusses what the internet is like for the population of China it makes me wonder how different things could be of the people of China were active and engaged with social media users of the Western part of the world. The limitation of what Chinese people can access on the web leaves them thirsty for a way to express themselves. Zixin describes a feature of his company similar to what a gym membership is like. There is a monthly fee that allows people to write and discuss things that they wouldn’t ordinarily have the ability to do because of the regulations the Chinese government has on the internet.  The people of China recognize the importance of having an outlet to express oneself searching for a way to do so. Compare that to the freedoms that we have on the Western side of the world and it’s unfortunate that we cannot find more quality content. We have the freedom to talk about anything we’d like and we decide to put most of our focus on things that do not matter. I’m in agreement with Dr. Kaufhold’s hypothesis that what is broken is not the news, but rather the audience. Somewhere along the way we have shifted to a society that needs everything now and this has led to the need to be entertained at every moment of the day. I too am guilty of this, but it seems that people have turned to trivial matters as opposed to issues that are important. Even when important issues are brought to the table it seems that we have lost the ability to have a conversation. Instead, one side is right and the other is wrong. The two sides continue will continue to be close-minded and continue to seek out only information that will confirm their beliefs, while ignoring everything else.  I would be interested to see what the user generated content of the Chinese people looks like and compare it to what we see on this side of the world.

An Important Audience Relationship

I found Jim Brady’s talk to be compelling due to the fact that his business model focuses on events and local news. I really appreciate how they put a lot of thought into the user experience and taking into account how pop-up ads can ruin that experience. I also find it refreshing that this site is not afraid of curated content but rather serving the audience what they want, instead of trying to serve strictly content from only their site. What I found to be most interesting is the fact that this site doesn’t do things for page views, but is concerned about “time well spent” and serving the readers needs. This site wants to build a connection through events, which is a concept I found interesting because it isn’t a concept that one would typically think of in regards to online news. I think this idea is appropriate because of their audience. I can respect a news site that uses this model over an advertising model because it is innovative.

Getting millennials interested in news

I found a few things interesting about Jim Brady’s discussion, but perhaps the most interesting was the fact that he says it is necessary to  curate the news for the CONSUMER’s interests in an effort to keep local readers interested and secondly the thought of events being a pivotal piece of keeping and recruiting readership for a digital media. One of the flaws in the media industry is the fact that so much of the ownership is not only concentrated but also that the media owners have so much power over what news is printed. One of the issues is that the owners of media and advertisers are also owners of other businesses. This means that journalists and editors have to keep this fact in the back of their mind when reporting news stories. For example Disney who owns ABC, ESPN, and other media platforms also own the Anaheim Ducks Hockey team and have a steak in the oil industry.  This would in turn affect the way ABC and ESPN report on these topics. A news platform free of media owners and focus on the consumer. He emphasizes the need for a strong relationship with the consumer in order to actually build a deep connection and focus on what the consumer wants and needs rather than about page views. This means eliminating click bait and creating slide shows for the sake of numbers, “focus on time well spent” rather than keeping people on the website. The target audience wants to experience things and attend events, so he is giving them events! It seems that Brady’s innovative approach is almost the most obvious way to run a business, answer to the needs of the consumer and the success will follow.

Speak Smart- Final Presentation

Hello everyone, for my project presentation I decided to take a unique path that I hope is quirky and entertaining enough to tell me story behind the inspiration and concept for SpeakSmart.

To do it I have recorded a 15 minute clip in Podcast interview format. (With me playing the role of both the interviewer and interviewee haha.) In addition to this I have included some screen grabs below showing the interface and resources of the app to help visualize the concept.


“Henry” our analytical speech interface
“Grade Page” Your immediate score accompanied by highlighted accolades and critiques.
“The Run Down” Detailed grading of 9 points of emphasis
“Speak Smart Community Boards”







News Start Ups

What was compelling to me was that doing events is a way for sponsors to start giving you money even before their ready. I once tried to start an online local news publication and I failed mostly because I didn’t find local support. I am still very interested in creating an independent publication for the San Antonio area and a lot of what they shared would help me developing this concept.

Also stressing the building of a community is key. He mentioned that it is not a pay and take the money type of thing. Sembramedia’s talk on how they researched digital media sites is really compelling to understand what works and what doesn’t.

It was interesting the china30 site used people to create content and had them contribute it and they get donations for their work. I love the idea that they created these trips and are teaching writing. I believe that not only creates revenue but I bet these people become loyal to that brand because in a sense they helped them achieve their goals.


I found Li Zixin’s portion of the panel the most eye opening. The fact that he was able to utilize resources already out there and market them towards the Chinese public in a way that is allowed by the government is rather remarkable and inspiring with WeChat. I also thought it was thought provoking how much of Chinese news is dominated by “entertainment to death” & the connection to the collapse of traditional media. China 30’s is an interesting concept. Having regularly updated user generated content is a noble endeavor and having them do it for free is a damn good business model. My concern would be how this content is being filtered and if there is any sort of ethical concern with false information being published and what the content of a typical China30 post usually entails? For the people, by the people is an idea long endured and celebrated but how does that fit in with the general public in a time and age when fake news is rampant especially in a place like China where news is also so heavily regulated. It seems like special care should be warranted as this material could be heavily influential to the the Chinese People.

Shannan Bowen

Shannan Bowen is the editorial media strategist over at McClatchy; an all-star company that offers marketing and digital media solutions as well as award-winning journalism based out of California.

Bowen received her bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill before continuing on to pursue her master’s degree in media entrepreneurship at American University.

Bowen has previously held positions at Atlantic Media Strategies, The Hill newspaper, The Florida Times Union, Wilmington Star News among others before getting to her current position. Bowen has experience in reporting, investigative editing, and audience development.

Twitter: @shanbow


  • How did it feel transitioning from reporting to audience and editorial strategy?
  • How did you master’s help you in your career?

Shannan Bowen-loving the audience

Shannan Bowen works as an editorial project strategist for McClatchy, a publishing company based out of California. She started her path in journalism (her passion) after graduating from the University of North Carolina (GO TARHEELS!) in 2006 and getting her Master’s from American University in 2014.

Bowen first worked for the Wilmington StarNews as a reporter covering a variety of subjects, such as tourism in the area and politics, as well as worked on planning community-engaging events and executing social media programs. She then moved on to work for The Hill, a political journalism newspaper, where she was in charge of audience engagement and her efforts led to a large increase in growth for The Hill. After, Shannan took a job with National Journal (division of Atlantic Media) where she was in charge of audience development and engagement once again, and she worked with the in-house digital consultancy called Atlantic Media Strategies.

Shannan loves innovation, media strategy and local news, and values assisting local and community news with opportunities for engagement as well as sustainable revenue models. Audience is clearly her journalistic focus and she has achieved this countless times.

Questions for Shannan:

  1. Being on the East Coast, have seen a difference in news values than in other parts of the country?
  2. What kind of audience engagement projects have you executed for McClatchy?