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Exclusive: Howard Finberg Interview April 5, 2008

Posted by lizwilhelm in symposium.
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From a copy editor at the Chicago Tribune to the founder of NewsU.org, Howard Finberg took a “long and tricky path” to the e-learning summit.

Sitting down in a courtyard in the ACES building on the University of Texas at Austin on a beautiful day, Finberg explained the intricacies of this path, his favorite “children of NewsU” and even his favorite Wii uses.

“Have you ever tried Wii news?” Finberg asked. He went on to explain that his favorite Wii game, was not really a game at all. It was the application that requires hooking up your Wii to a wireless Internet connection that allows it to “take you on a trip around the world” in terms of news, said Finberg.

A journalist using a game system for news, makes sense. This is the idea behind NewsU.org–using games and simulations to train journalists on their own time, said Finberg.

Taking on the graphics desk at the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s, Finberg shortly became interested in technology, which got the Poynter Institute interested in him and his consulting. Doing a report over training and journalism, Finberg submitted it to Poynter and the Knight Institute, which liked it and funded it. This lead to NewsU.

Asking him about his favorite course or game on NewsU, Finberg laughed.

“That’s like asking a parent if he has a favorite child,” Finberg said.

It turns out, he does have favorite children. These include the Hospital Beat Reporting simulation and the general Be A Reporter game, although it is for different audience, Finberg said.

Leaving the audience of the newsgame panel with one message, Finberg made an impression on the audience.

“One message,” Finberg concluded. “Games are important.”

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