This spring the Ohio University Libraries worked proactively with Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication as it launched its first annual Scripps Innovation Challenge, a competition for Ohio University students to respond to real-life challenges that the media industry faces. Challenges were proposed by media professionals themselves and ranged from creating profitable uses for AM radio signals to monetizing a newspaper’s Twitter account.
Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Andy Alexander, former ombudsman for The Washington Post and coordinator of the Challenge, wants students to understand these kinds of media industry challenges and to respond to the notion supported by some traditional journalists that journalism is reaching its end.
“We do not have a journalism problem in America,” Alexander said. “What we have is a revenue model problem, and we have to figure out how to pay for it.”
Collaborations soon began between the College of Communication and Ohio University Libraries to meet the proposed media industry challenges.
“I’ve been off campus for so long that I had no idea that Alden [Library] was so proactive,” said Alexander. “I was flabbergasted when Diana [Nichols, subject librarian for the School of Journalism] came over and out of the blue said ‘Can we help you with this?’”
Reference librarians worked together to create a research guide of library resources relating to media, business, and engineering, which developed over time with suggestions from faculty.
Now that the sorts of media industry challenges are better understood, the Ohio University Libraries is thinking about expanding its working relationship with the Scripps College of Communication.
“I’d like to talk to Andy about the possibility of collaborating with faculty to offer targeted research workshops in the future,” Nichols said.
Next year, the two parties look forward to working closely during the Scripps Innovation Challenge to meet competitors’ information needs.