Share an “aha!” moment you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field.
When reporters at The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine produced solid, detailed and hard-hitting exposés of rampant sexual discrimination in Hollywood and other industries, ushering in the #MeToo movement. Good, dogged reporting can produce tremendous results — even in the face of intimidating and powerful people.
Describe an experience you’ve had with a student that made you feel excited about educating the next generation in your field.
In July 2016, my colleague Mark Berkey-Gerard and I took a class of students to cover the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Our students worked very hard and had so much fun. They reported on protests, politicians and celebrities. They worked in heat, torrential downpours and wind. The students got to mingle with journalism alumni who now work at NJ Advance Media, Fox News and the Burlington County Times.
What’s your favorite thing about being on campus on a typical Wednesday?
Since I have been advisor to The Whit student newspaper on and off for 13 years, a typical Wednesday means Whit production night. That is when the staff of editors and reporters gather in their office to put out the weekly newspaper — in print, on the website and via social media. I love discussing stories with the student journalists and hearing them chatting and bounding up the stairs to their office at 6 East High St.
What is your area of expertise?
I have several. As a journalist, I focus on news and feature reporting — teaching the nuts and bolts of writing and putting together a well-crafted story. As an educator, I focus on media ethics. This involves examining and discussing coverage of current events and how journalists can/should do their jobs in an ethical way. As a researcher, I focus on children and families journalism. My graduate school fellowship at the University of Maryland focused on issues and concerns of children and their families. That can be anything from the rising rate of children diagnosed with autism, to teens and technology to foster care trends. These topics sometimes get the short shrift in newsrooms, and I am passionate about their coverage.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus?
Journalism is NOT “fake news” and journalists matter now more than ever. The printed newspaper as a product may be in steep decline, but consumers’ hunger for news is greater than ever.
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Story and photography by:
Chad Wittmann, senior journalism major