What I learned in an eight-day whirlwind at Reese News Lab

Jan 17 2014

In the eight days that I have been a part of the Reese News Lab, only one thing has been made clear: No two days are the same.

I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was getting in to when I applied to be a part of the Reese News Lab team. I just knew that Reese News Lab was doing something different in media. The team members were challenging the conventional and coming up with their own definitions of what the media world needed or was missing.

Our charge this semester is to brainstorm new ideas for media products and then research three of them. So the first three days were a blur of ideas being thrown around, bounced off the walls, caught, played around with a little, then, ultimately, dropped. Only three final ideas passed the test of what John Clark, the executive director of Reese News Lab, called the “abilities”: Did an idea for a new media product show potential for feasibility, desirability and viability? In other words, can it be done? Does anyone actually need this? And most importantly, could it make money?

The ideas that were thrown around were as unconventional as Reese News Lab. They ranged from the absurd to the unimaginable, yet they continued to flow under the mantra “no idea is a bad idea.” This, in a way, is how Reese News Lab members feel about the people who flow in and out to hang out and do homework or contribute whether they are on the team or not. Reese News Lab always leaves its door open.

There is a feeling of freedom throughout the room that allows for the ludicrous ideas to be explored and even find their way on the road to becoming reality. The freedom takes away the fear of stepping out beyond what we know about how media works today, and discovering new and different avenues of what media could be and how far we can push its boundaries to serve an even greater public.

In my eight days at Reese News Lab, I have learned the different possibilities of what media can do and how it can do it while being able to sustain itself. I have been challenged to think beyond the predictable and give voice to my most bizarre ideas. I have learned to take Reese News Lab one day at a time and be comfortable with not knowing where an idea can lead, whether it be a dead end or off to mutate into something completely different.

There is no easy way to explain Reese News Lab or what the lab does (there is a team actually trying to figure that out this semester) but it is a unique group to be a part of, with unique people exploring exceptional ideas in an environment built around and based on the philosophy of the pushing the barriers of what media can do.

Ultimately, our group settled on three ideas to pursue this semester: