What we learn about the real world at Reese News Lab

Dec 02 2013

With each experience at Reese News Lab, there are always bigger lessons learned. Whether these lessons deal with teamwork, forward thinking, acceptance of change, or any other lesson, they always helps us acquire beneficial skills. These are some of my favorite quotes and lessons learned from my first semester at Reese News Lab.

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

At the beginning of this semester, I observed the lab twice in hopes that I would be fortunate enough to work there in the spring semester. Luckily for me, one of the current interns was offered an opportunity elsewhere and I was given the chance to join a team. As a first-year student with little experience, I was both excited and nervous to be in the lab. Because of these feelings, at first I did not give much personal input in fear that it would not be useful.

After the first brainstorming session with my team, I quickly realized that I was wrong.

I have learned that each person in a group is somewhat like a cog that helps turns the wheels and create the mechanics of the lab overall. Reese News Lab is full of people with diverse backgrounds who are all passionate about their work. We each represent different teeth to the cogs and everyone in the lab contributes. These components facilitate the “two heads is better than one” ideal that pushes the lab forward.

The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.
― Dale Carnegie

At the beginning of the semester, my team started with a commercial product that provided members of a news subscription with gift cards, discounts and products through an online store. Now, we have built a business model that uses gift cards in an inventive way to generate revenue for online journalism. Although we were certain of our idea for the product at first, it completely changed over time.

Everything I have learned at Reese News Lab always goes back to viability, feasibility and desirability: Can this product sustain itself financially? Is it possible to execute? And does anyone want it?

My team would have been perfectly fine pitching an online storefront, but for this product, we didn’t have good answers to these three questions. Instead of taking the easy route and keeping our initial product, we have worked through every bump in the road to ensure that this model would be effective. This motivation to create valid work while encountering many obstacles has been crucial in our final outcome.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
― Albert Einstein

Spend a day in the lab and you will be sure to hear Executive Director John Clark discuss something along the lines of change. His most common sayings are: “Things are crazy here, but I like it.” Or, “Everything will change and you have to get used to that.” This everyday sense of change is the beauty in Reese News Lab. The lab itself has transformed from a publication to a research lab.

Throughout this semester I have learned to accept change. Whether it is the type of work I am doing or the direction of our project, I have had to be open to new, innovative ideas. There is a mutual understanding between everyone at Reese News Lab that we are “crazy” in a positive way. So if crazy is what it takes to rethink journalism, then we are on the right path.


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