Improvisation theories, drawn mostly from jazz, have increasingly been applied to entrepreneurship, new product development, and other fields, but rarely, if ever, to journalism. Yet journalism is an industry built on improvisation, from the actions of reporters out in the field, to the deadline work of editors and page designers. More than that, it is an industry that needs a new framework in order to survive. Journalists must, I believe, be more agile, more open, more listening, and more willing to work as teams, take chances and improvise, if they are to succeed.

Laura Amico is a Nieman-Berkman fellow in journalism innovation. Her work focuses on building more effective strategies for newsrooms to cover beats and build community engagement.

Laura is CEO of Glass Eye Media, the company behind Homicide Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based website for data-driven coverage of violent crime that was recognized as a notable entry in the 2011 Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism. News organizations and universities including the Sun Times, Digital First Media, and University of Colorado Boulder have partnered with Glass Eye Media to license the technology and use the community-driven approach to journalism that Glass Eye Media advocates. In 2013, Homicide Watch DC won the Knight award for public service journalism, was a finalist in the general excellence category for news sites by the Online News Association, and received a special citation from the National Press Foundation for online journalism.

Laura has reported for the Register-Pajaronian and The Press Democrat in California, received a New York Times Chairman?s Award, and held fellowships with the Online News Association and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America.

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