I’m an assistant professor in the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University. I began teaching at Stony Brook in 2000, one course per semester, when the journalism program was a all-adjunct minor housed in the English Department. When Howard Schneider left the editorship of Newsday in 2005 after refusing yet another mandate for newsroom cuts from Tribune Co., the paper’s owner at the time, he came to SBU to explore expanding the journalism program. We became a school in the summer of 2006, and six months later I became the first full-time faculty hire. Sometimes, one lands in the right place at the right time.
ABOUT JOURNALISM 24/7 — THE CHANGING NEWS INDUSTRY
In December 2006, Howie asked me to create a course called Journalism 24/7. This is a required course for all our majors and minors. It examines the state of the news industry, which — unless you’ve had your head under a rock for the past five years — you know is in chaos. Many things underlie this chaos: the astoundingly disruptive explosion of the World Wide Web, beginning with the migration of classified advertising from newspapers to job sites, Craigslist, eBay; the advent of a thousand distractions that didn’t exist 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago (take your pick: video games, movies on demand, mobile devices); the consolidation of national retail chains and the decline of the U.S. auto industry, which shrank the ranks of newspaper advertisers.
I teach Journalism 24/7 every semester, and every semester, it’s a different course. The industry’s rate of change–its delta–has been so steep that, after examining the old, blown-apart business models, we spend the rest of our time exploring the what’s new. We follow entrepreneurial projects like Dave Cohn’s Spot.us, we follow corporate hyperlocal initiatives like Aol’s Patch.com, we follow the raging debate over paywalls. This blog — Internet Revolution, J-School Evolution — is my account of teaching today’s journalism students about this terrifying, exhilarating chaos.
ABOUT JOURNALISM FUNDAMENTALS
As J-School Evolution looks forward, it also looks back to a too-often-neglected aspect of journalism education. It’s about the Writing Immersion Lab required in our introductory newswriting course; our students don’t move on to Reporting 2 until they have successfully passed the lab. One of the lab’s many uses is weeding out those students who either can’t or won’t master the syntax of Standard Written English. This blog may also touch upon another of my pedagogical interests: numeracy for journalists.
ABOUT MY LIFE
A few last words about me: Born 1956 in Manhattan to a sociology professor and a former magazine editor. Spent my first seven years in Berkeley, Calif., my eighth in London and Paris during my dad’s sabbatical, then three years in Rochester, N.Y., then moved to Stony Brook, Long Island, New York, when the state university was just 10 years old. I grew up with it, a little young for the legendary Airplane and Dead concerts but there for some excellent Hot Tuna. Went off to college, met Craig Werle when he TA’d my geomorph class at SUNY-Binghamton (third of three universities; don’t ask); moved back to Long Island with Craig; we married in 1981.
Discovered journalism just before college ended, worked three years for Suffolk Life, a weekly newspaper on the East End of Long Island that was fun and taught me a lot but was completely lacking in jrn-biz status. Got my status card punched at Columbia J-school, class of 1983. Freelanced, worked at The (Stamford, Conn.) Advocate for less than a year, got swept up in Times Mirror Corp.’s big investment in New York Newsday. Those seven years on the NY biz desk seem like a lost paradise now.
Worked for a year on the LI biz and science desks, spent five of my eight years at Newsday pioneering part-time work for reporters and editors–my legacy, though in the end I had to leave when my third child was born in 1993. Stayed home for five years, then began teaching college journalism and discovered a second career as fulfilling as the first. That brings us up to my arrival at — my return to — Stony Brook.
Funny how life sometimes goes full circle.