Journalism Educators Tap Pinterest

Whenever something gets as hot as fast as Pinterest has, I make sure I am playing in that sandbox.  I am what I would describe as a “light adopter” of Pinterest so far.  I strongly urge journalists to get in there and play, even if, at the moment, the journalism uses of this new social network is not crystal clear.

How can you use it? PBS’s MediaShift does an amazing job rounding up how college educators are dabbling (or more)  I will provide an excerpt. Turn here for the full article by A. Adam Glenn, associate professor, interactive, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and a longtime digital journalist and media consultant:

How Educators Are Using Pinterest for Showcasing, Curation

A. Adam Glennby A. Adam Glenn, March 20, 2012

Pinterest is the “in” site of 2012, and its phenomenal growth has sparked interest among millions of users.

It’s also spread to journalism educators, who are increasingly experimenting with it in the classroom.

The social network launched two years ago, but in recent months has drawn red-hot excitement for its unique visual, topic-based curation approach. While its 10 million users, especially women, are drawn to it almost obsessively, brands, media firms and news organizations have also planted flags on the network.

Now J-school faculty are increasingly in on the act.

From ‘mood boards’ to ‘survival boards’


One early adopter was University of Southern California’s Andrew Lih, who last October, long before he and many others knew the site would become a blockbuster, introduced it to online students in an entrepreneurial class to gather what he called a “mood board” for a project on public art. Lih explained that the students took advantage of Pinterest’s easy-to-use clipping approach to create a densely packed visual scrapbook of public and street art to identify themes that would have easily been missed had they gathered individual photos in a folder.

Aggregating images to share with students is an increasingly common classroom use for the tool.

Jody Strauch at Northwest Missouri State University has used Pinterest to show good design work to her media design classes. Heather Starr Fielder uses Pinterest boards in her classes at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University to share visual material for collaborations and peer critiques.


And Robert Quigley at the University of Texas in Austin showed students what ad agency GSD&M did with its South by Southwest “survival board.” (He also wrote up a tips piece for news users on Pinterest and now plans to have students create a Pinterest channel for a new social media-only news agency for college students that he has in the works.)

Pinterest fuels social photography, curation

But social curation journalism is, not surprisingly, one of the main applications for Pinterest among J-school faculty. For example, Carrie Brown-Smith, a journalism prof at University of Memphis, had students use Pinterest as part of a “social photography” assignment in a media site. She said the best Pinterest work came from students who have beats or blog topics, such as fashion, that are well-suited to Pinterest’s strengths.

Similarly, at Colorado State University, Michael Humphrey found students with an interest in lifestyle and arts, such as architecture, food or fashion, tended to lean toward Pinterest when given the choice with Tumblr or Posterous for a digital media aggregation assignment.

At Minnesota State University Moorhead, Deneen Gilmour assigned students in a “writing for the web” class to produce stories for their Doing It Downtown blog to use Pinterest as a curation tool for visuals, while using Storify for social media and Spotify or LastFM for music. One student produced an innovative story with the Pinterest boards she gathered to help guide restaurant and shop-goers to gluten-free menus items.

Cindy Royal at Texas State, who is looking into integrating the tool into her digital/online media course, had new media students create a series of boards to guide visitors to South by Southwest. (Other news organizations used Pinterest for their South by Southwest coverage as well.)

And Kelly Fincham, who teaches journalism at Hofstra University, came up with a clever formula for asking students to create their own Pinterest boards. “I teach Pinterest as a visual ‘SPACE,'” she wrote on the ONA Educator’s Facebook group. “S is for sourcing story ideas and trending topics; P is for promotion and publishing students’ work. A is for aggregation of pictures (with suitable copyright); C is for curating top news, and E is for engaging with others.”

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