Curley speaks to OU students about media
Kingsley Burns, The Oklahoma Daily
For newspapers to connect with their readers they must learn to be playful and passionate, to be personal and practical and they must have porn — but not the naughty kind, a digital journalist told students Monday night.
Rob Curley, metro editor of the Orange County Register, discussed media in a digital age as part of the kick-off event for Student Media’s semester-long study of campus media.
Curley told the audience they needed to be concerned less with the platform their news was delivered on — print versus digital — and more with the basic principle of how to be essential.
Nearly 100 people filled the Meacham Auditorium to hear the Kansas-native speak. Curley has worked for papers such as the Lawrence Journal-World, the Las Vegas Sun and the Washington Post.
He told the audience one of the main problems with the newspaper industry is that it is not good at giving its readers the serendipitous guide information.
Curley likened the problem with the newspaper industry to the movie “Moneyball.”
“Maybe we need to do that,” he said. “Maybe we’re looking at all the wrong statistics, maybe we’re judging ourselves the wrong way...If you look at things differently you can solve problems.”
Journalists need to think about how they can best serve their audience, how to give them what they want, Curley said.
“There’s a big difference between knowing what matters [to your audience] and thinking you know what matters,” he said.
Italian exchange student Cosimo Vestito said he was very impressed with Curley’s speech. Vestito, a mass media and politics graduate student, said he liked the emphasis on utilizing different platforms for the changing audience.
He was particularly impressed by Curley’s focus on putting the best resources into doing things differently, especially on the web, he said.
Vestito said he initially attended the lecture as part of a class requirement, but as a student of journalism he is interested in attending future events.
Curley said he didn’t know what to expect when he was asked to speak at OU. He joked that the only reason Student Media reached out to him was because they couldn’t find anyone else.
While they may have asked him to speak because of his reputation for digital journalism, Curley made it clear he didn’t do digital journalism.
“I do audience journalism,” he said.
If students took away anything from his lecture, he said he hopes they walk away with the realization that they need to figure out how to be essential to their readers.
Curley’s speech launches a 12-week study by Student Media to decide the future of media on campus, said Judy Gibbs Robinson, the faculty adviser to The Daily.
“We’re doing everything we can to get you, the OU community, thinking and talking about media in the digital age,” Robinson told the audience.
Robinson said the study will help the department decide what the best course of action is for media publications on campus based on community feedback. Other schools have cut back student print publications, but Student Media is not committed to any of those courses, she said.
Robinson said she thought Curley’s speech did a great job of capturing what was important — and platform wasn’t one of those things.
“I thought he was full of incredible ideas,” she said.
His data driven approach and idea of testing story packaging were ideas student editors should appreciate, she said.
Robinson said she was very pleased with the turnout. She said she also expects the speech to gain a wider audience as it will be available online through the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s iTunes U account.
The department will host a series of surveys, focus groups and other events as part of the study, she said.
The next event will be a roundtable discussion at 3 p.m. Sept. 25. The discussion, “How Do You Know What’s Going On At OU?” will take place in the Governors Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union.