In early 2008, it was still quite unusual. That we would publicly share the content from my inaugural multimedia storytelling class through a blog. That students would ultimately manage and produce for the site. And that we would focus on how digital media was “flipping” traditional communications on its head.
It led to cross-posting by the New York Times, requests for our expertise from elsewhere within the University of Washington, and a groundbreaking platform for so many of our students who were looking to learn and experiment in a live digital media lab. We were excited to tell the story of how we too could leverage universal access to the Internet — a democratizing force — to create a broad publishing platform.
We’re proud of what we achieved in the nearly 10 years since: Nearly 2000 posts from more than 250 participants, frontline student coverage of SXSW and the 2012 election, and even the odd interview with Seattle hip-hop legend Sir Mix-A-Lot.
But we also recognize that this world continues to flip. Our students’ needs and passions have changed over the years. Fewer are interested in posting or volunteering for the publication as the number of opportunities to share online have ballooned, and the organic audience for upstart publications like Flip shrinks. The early adopters of digital media are now just part of a global crowd: in 2008 Facebook barely had 200 million users. Today, the social media giant has 2 billion. There’s more “audience” and content than ever, but the world seems to be engaging in fewer places.
So it’s time to declare we’ve reached journey’s end with Flip the Media and create new pathways to provide our community with the essence of what that publication gave us:
- Portfolio-building opportunities to showcase writing, editing, photography and content strategy skills.
- Opportunities to network within a diversity of professional fields and keep up to date.
- The chance to get to know more people within our connected learning community by creating as many points of collaboration as possible.
- A voice for our students, who come from a multiplicity of backgrounds and have a commensurate multiplicity of professional objectives.
- Sharing with the world our program’s true competitive advantage: how we tell stories to spark change.
This will only happen with the same spirit that we created Flip the Media: by consulting and collaborating vigorously with our students in whatever updated version of our digital laboratory we devise. As always, we will share our experiences, conclusions and best practices with the world. Even better, Alex Stonehill, our faculty who has overseen the channel for us since 2011 will lead our charge into the next era, as part of the program’s overall creative strategy.
In appreciation for the remarkable work our students have done over the years, and the value many of those posts continue to provide, we will maintain the Flip the Media archive.
To pay homage to another medium that also continues to transmute: “stay tuned!”