Welcome to the Reese News Lab, an experimental media and research project based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Reese News Lab focuses on developing and testing new ideas for the media industry in the form of a “pre-startup.” Our team of students researches ideas for media products by answering three questions: Can it be done? Does anyone actually need this? And most importantly, could it make money?
To answer these questions, students create prototypes, interview and survey potential customers, and develop business strategies for their products. Students document their recommendations on whether they believe a product will work and then present their ideas to the public.
We don’t try to launch all of our product ideas. Our philosophy is that if our research reveals that a product lacks viability, desirability or feasibility, then it’s time to consider a new idea.
All of our projects are developed and tested by a staff of undergraduate and graduate students. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds including journalism, business and computer science, among others. Meet our current staff.
The Lab was established in 2010 with a gift from the estate of journalism school alum Reese Felts.
NewsLing studied the idea of providing the Spanish-speaking community with a better understanding of the local news. It would provide a mobile platform and human translators to news broadcasters so that they could make Spanish-language audio translations of news broadcasts available.
Capitol Hound, which we are planning to launch next semester, is a searchable audio index and alert system for the N.C. General Assembly. Using audio-indexing software, Capitol Hound makes hours of audio recordings from the General Assembly searchable by keyword.
Students in the Lab are testing ideas for four concepts: Incentive News, Greetings From, Graphics Clearinghouse and Prison News.
Incentive News would, as the name suggests, provide incentives to paid subscribers for reading the news.
Greetings From would provide international coverage by kids for kids in the form of digital postcards.
Graphics Clearinghouse would provide a link between visually skilled students who are interested in freelancing and news organizations that need low-cost interactive graphics.
Finally, Prison News seeks to provide prisoners with a personalized news product to bridge the gap between incarceration and the outside world.
This spring and summer, Reese News Lab will take on a new client, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s award-winning environmental multimedia project, Powering a Nation. Using Powering a Nation as inspiration, a team of four students will spend the spring coming up with a business strategy and concept for an environmental news product that could financially sustain itself. In the summer, the same team will develop and launch the product.
Also this spring, we plan to market and launch last summer’s intriguing product idea, Capitol Hound. A small team of students will use the business strategies developed over the summer to develop a client base and market the product.