SOJC students

SOJC students on location at the Oregon coast producing content for Travel Oregon.

In addition to exceptional academics and campus culture, a main draw to the University of Oregon is its abundance of natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor activity. Now the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s (SOJC) OR Media program is combining the state’s natural wonders and recreational opportunities with innovative, real-world projects for SOJC students through a partnership with Travel Oregon, Oregon’s premiere website for travel and tourism information.

OR Media is a multimedia and video production team housed within the SOJC that was established to advance students’ skills and passion for digital storytelling while adding professional-level work to their portfolios. OR Media’s recent partnership with Travel Oregon gives students the opportunity to produce digital storytelling and interactive content that will increase tourism and travel in the state of Oregon.

Assistant Professor Ed Madison helped to coordinate the partnership, which began in spring 2015 and will extend into 2016.

“Tourism organizations, specifically state tourism, want to attract young people,” says Madison. “It seemed like a perfect opportunity to have younger people producing content.”

The project involves using various forms of interactive media to tell the stories of each of Oregon’s geographic regions. “The concept is to look at the seven regions of Oregon and how we visualize and tell stories about those regions with a more youthful sensibility in terms of narrative, photograph and video,” explains Madison.

Students have not only created new content, but also repurposed old content and helped with social media and events, including handling the State of Oregon’s Snapchat account for the annual Hood to Coast Race.

Kyle Hentschel, co-editor in chief of OR Magazine, explains the rationale behind the project: “Our goal is to cater to a demographic that isn’t always a focus for travel and tourism. I hope this platform can be used by the younger and more spontaneous travelers as a means to experience Oregon from a local perspective without submitting to crowds and major expenses. Sourcing our trip and story ideas from students allows us to maintain this intention, as we can draw from relevant experience.”

This partnership is unique because it entails real client work and gives students opportunities to both improve their digital storytelling skills and create professional work for their portfolios. “This partnership is an incredible opportunity to work with a real client producing exciting content,” says Hentschel. “When there is more at stake than simply a grade, the experience becomes much richer.”

Story by Nicole Rideout ’16