In July, the School of Journalism and Communication welcomed Emmy-award winning journalist and former New York Times multimedia editor Andrew DeVigal as its inaugural Chair of Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement and the first professor of practice.
Based at the George S. Turnbull Center, the Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement will help the SOJC advance its position as a national and international leader in media research and practice.
What excites you about the center and SOJC?
I’m thrilled by the opportunity to help forge the future of journalism in the service of civic engagement. The time is absolutely ripe in reimagining not only how we might teach future journalists but also how we might develop new models of journalism that engage citizens and build stronger and more effective communities.
What is your vision for the center?
In the past few years, the media industry has mostly been focused around being digital or mobile first. The center needs to focus on being community first. When it comes to civic engagement, impacted communities have invaluable collective knowledge and we need to enable them to share their expertise.
I am deeply committed to the service functions of journalism and to the enhancement of civic life and democracy through meaningful public engagement. I hope to shift the conversation of engaging readers not only to grow an audience but more importantly as an opportunity to build and strengthen communities.
I’ve seen more than my share of innovative projects come and go without fulfilling their promise of community engagement. I believe for sustained engagement, the human-centered design approach needs to start by convening the stakeholders in the beginning and at regular intervals to fully understand their needs and everyday habits.
The Center for Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement can be the global hub to meet our industry’s ever-growing need to evolve and embrace this new media ecosystem through practices and research. It will be the gathering place to bring communities together where new information can be discussed, where public deliberation can be facilitated and questions perhaps resolved.
A part of center’s role is to also identify and connect the dots between the gaps of knowledge of communities, industry and government. We will foster new programs and projects that advance public interest journalism, communication and the student experience.
How will the center and its work enhance the SOJC student experience?
Journalism education plays a pivotal role in how journalism must evolve while still maintaining its traditional values and purpose. Academia is the ideal setting for strategic experimentation where learning from our successes and failures is expected and honored. It’s also important to remember that innovation is not only about technology. Innovation should be incorporated in how we teach the craft, the process we establish, the structures we build, and the culture we foster. This directly translates to the student experience as SOJC students are critical in helping to shape this new media landscape.
How do you see the SOJC faculty, staff, and alums getting involved?
The success of the center requires collaboration not only across disciplines within the SOJC but also across other departments. The media industry in this digital age is evolving so quickly that we must tap into the expertise across the University of Oregon. And the new reality of this interdependent world requires reaching out and connecting directly with alums and the greater community. Not only will our doors be open, but we will also be reaching out.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for journalism and civic engagement?
The new media ecosystem will be disruptive to the previous top-down distributive model of journalism. What journalism and the communication industry will look like will be different from yesterday. It’s already different.
What’s next and how will the public hear about it?
We officially launch the center on Nov. 7 at the17th Annual Hall of Achievement event, with opportunities to convene, collaborate and experiment.