With the release of the Apple Watch, the familiar “tick tock” of the wrist watch was replaced with a quiet tap of the finger, the bright light of a notification, and the soft buzzing of the smartwatch. Although Apple was not the first to release a smartwatch, the April launch of the Apple Watch marked a new step in wearable technology.
For Victor Hernandez, former director of coverage and program manager for news editorial at CNN, his next step is to spend eight months studying the publishing capabilities of the smartwatch and other wearable devices as a 2015-2016 fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
“I’ve been thinking about wearable technology and the potential impact to newsrooms for a long time now,” said Hernandez. “Primarily from a digital content producer/distribution perspective, but also considering important consumer behaviors and how media, specifically news content, is radically shifting—in shape, form and frequency—in order to remain relevant to audiences.”
Before becoming a RJI Fellow, Hernandez spent time while working at CNN exploring emerging technologies including spearheading a Google Glass project. However, because of legal and corporate issues, the project never got off the ground.
Now, Hernandez’s fellowship will act as a “wearable journalism playbook,” focusing on best practices, technological opportunities, case studies, and recommendations for publishers and news organizations. Most of Hernandez’s work will be based out of his home in California, but he plans to visit the RJI campus in Columbia, Mo. for collaboration.
RJI provided $20,000 for Hernandez’s nonresidential fellowship. Randy Picht, executive director for RJI, said he believes studying wearables is a timely endeavor and an important one.
“Sometimes the industry is busy doing other things and some of these new things (like wearable technology) don’t get the attention they need,” Picht said.
Although wearable technologies are on trend in the tech world, Hernandez said it’s important to be realistic in the publishing world. “I don’t expect my Apple Watch 42mm Milanese Loop is going to change journalism,” he said.
But he compared the Apple Watch to the first iPhone, which is considered to be a primitive mobile device today. The iPhone became a device most journalists used daily in their reporting, Hernandez said.
“What will (the smartwatch and wearable devices) mean for gathering and reporting our stories ten years from now and how will we get there collectively?” he asked.
It’s a question he hopes to answer during his fellowship. Hernandez’s final reports and presentation are expected by the second quarter of 2016. In the meantime, follow him at allthenewsthatfitsyourwrist.tumblr.com.