By Weldon McKenzie
As far as maverick of media Evan Smith is concerned, there has never been a better time to pursue a career in media.
“You probably feel like you’ve lost the lottery generationally,” Smith said. “But I’ve never been more optimistic about this line of work.”
Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, accompanied by Chief Innovation Officer Rodney Gibbs, weighed in on the ever-increasing role of technology in media this afternoon in a talk hosted by Texas State’s annual Mass Comm Week.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media outlet that is only available in online form. The innovative publication focuses on matters in government and data presentation through the use of info graphics and other visual media.
Historically, journalistic practices have been reserved for those who institutionalize themselves under a publications brand in order to produce media. However, through the utilization of technologies such as social media and blogs, Smith said, we are slowly moving away from that “short-leash” mentality.
“Technology has broken down the barriers of journalism,” Smith said.
Smith said this upcoming generation of workers is well equipped for the future of mass media, as it has become acutely familiar with the technology that is changing the field.
Gibbs, who has been with the Texas Tribune for about six months, is in charge of the implementation of technological resources into the publication. He said he views the organization as a tech company who happens to deal with news.
“Our tech department tries to see around corners to figure out the next trending thing,” Gibbs said.
One example of innovation from the Texas Tribune is the creation of two applications that gathers and presents data about public and higher education, which is an otherwise difficult topic to find information on.
Gibbs said one problem he sees with the role of technology and new media is the oversaturation of content. The convenience of social media sites has made it difficult to break through, but the accessibility of these resources gives you many opportunities to make that breakthrough.
“This conversation really made me consider the infinite possibilities I have as a mass comm. student,” said mass communication junior Anish Banskota.
Smith said there is almost no difference between a journalist and a data reporter at the Texas Tribune as a result of the convergence of technology and media.
“We even give technology supporters a by-line for their data,” Smith said.
Mass Comm Week began on Monday and will continue through Thursday Nov. 1.