The Hub of Digital Media Convergence: Lawrence, Kansas
Picture credit: http://www.robcurley.com
It's true, Virginia. Lawrence, Kansas is the hub of digital media convergence. Why? Because it's home to Rob Curley, the Lawrence-Journal World's director of New Media. Arguably the most visionary convergence journalist in the world, Curley has orchestrated the construction of:
The Lawrence-Journal World - the newspaper's online presence, winner of the 2004 Edgie award for best overall news site (under 75,000 population), another award for most innovative visitor participation, and an EPpy Award for the Best Internet News Service.
Lawrence.com - a gen-Y entertainment site, which has won both an Edgie award for best entertainment site and an Eppy award for best overall design.
KUsports.com - the Kansas University sports site, which has won Edgie awards for best sports site and most innovative use of digital media.
Curley's tenet is to ignore national news, because he doesn't want to compete with CNN. Instead he provides an unbelievable level of local detail - at one point even covering age 9 to 12 sports like T-ball as if it were the major leagues. Boxscores, interviews, pictures of the fields.... one little kid even had a classic quote during an online interview: "I'm really seeing the ball well now... I'm in a groove".
To give you a sense of Curley (and his team's) creativity, consider the following KUsports features:
Weather - a game-time weather mapper that modifies the conventional local weather maps to add local landmarks ("...the wind's blowing straight past Joe's Pizza into the stadium...")
Simulations - Curley's team simulated the entire Kansas football schedule using an X-Box, created broadcasts of the simulated games, and even generated a complete database of online stats (Curley: "...and just like in real life, our virtual kicker sucks...").
Statistics - the team hired an intern to enter the boxscore of every Kansas game since the 19th century into a complete, searchable database.
Want to hear from the visionary himself? Take the time to listen to this highly entertaining interview with Curley. Then visit his blog from time to time. Creativity and a laser-like focus on the business are rare traits in a single person.