San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU School of JMS collaborates with local NBC station using locative technologies

SDSU School of JMS collaborates with local NBC station using locative technologies

by Amy Schmitz Weiss

July 3, 2019

SDSU School of Journalism and Media students had a unique opportunity this spring semester to combine their journalistic skills with access to a new digital technology to produce community stories about San Diego with the local NBC station, KNSD, NBC 7 San Diego.

JMS Associate Professor Amy Schmitz Weiss led this special project with her JMS 430 Digital Journalism students in collaboration with NBC 7 San Diego and Bloom Labs Incorporated, a location-based technology partner. 

The premise of the special project was to allow JMS students to have hands-on experience in publishing their stories in collaboration with NBC 7 San Diego and also use cutting-edge locative technology in the news gathering and reporting process.

“Our team had a great experience working with the SDSU students on this project. It was valuable to see what story ideas the students brought forth and rewarding to partner with them in bringing them to life on,” said Sean Monzet, NBC 7 & Telemundo 20 San Diego director of Integrated Media.

Fifteen students produced news stories during the semester about San Diego ranging from topics such as sexual health education efforts underway at SDSU to a new plant-based food restaurant launching on campus. Students also covered topics off campus ranging from the new laws impacting street vendors in San Diego to San Diego’s Honeymoon Bridge in Balboa Park.

The students gathered multimedia for their stories which included photos and video. They also had the opportunity to use a new location-based technology called Bloom. Bloom provided the students with free access to tools for geotagging their stories in the places where their stories occurred during the newsgathering stage and to visualize their stories on an interactive news map of San Diego. This visualization was included in the stories published on the NBC 7 San Diego website.

“It was exciting to see the students use Bloom to experiment with new ways of presenting news to local communities,” said Stephen Jefferson, founder of Bloom. “I’m thankful for this opportunity to collaborate with the university and hope the experience has influenced the students as they continue their studies.” 

This semester-long project allowed the students to get access to cutting-edge technology, work collaboratively with a local media partner, demonstrate their journalistic skills by going out into the community and telling important stories that matter to SDSU students and the wider San Diego community. This collaboration is a first between SDSU School of JMS and NBC 7 San Diego and there are hopes that other projects like this will continue between the school and NBC.

“The opportunity for the students to go out into the community and engage with the places and spaces that matter to San Diegans using locative technologies like Bloom, provides our students with an advantage they can take into a future newsroom,” Schmitz Weiss says. “The power to combine locative technologies with a digital story and allow the reporter to geotag it in the place where it occurred provides another unique layer to storytelling that we are now just starting to explore in the industry.”

This unique idea about geotagging and location is not new for Professor Schmitz Weiss as her research is currently looking at the intersection between location and journalism. She has developed a stream of research along the lines of what she calls Spatial Journalism, that demonstrates new approaches in storytelling when location becomes a prominent factor in the newsgathering and storytelling process.

“Spatial journalism can be another pathway to help our journalism students practice their newsgathering and reporting that can change the way they cover local communities and having partners like NBC and Bloom helps to show how this kind of innovative journalistic work can be done,” Schmitz Weiss says.

To view the full list of stories created by the students, see the map visualization here:

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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