My background in journalism has helped shape how I view my role in the classroom, which is guided by three principles: passion, dedication, and adaptability. I am driven by a desire to inspire students to both love and be critical of their vocation and to want to immerse themselves in it. Teaching goes far beyond the didactic conveyance of information for me; rather, it is an active exchange of ideas among everyone in the classroom. My overarching goal as an instructor is to help students find their place within the field while instilling in them the skills needed to excel, a critical awareness of their profession, and the excitement necessary to drive autonomous instruction.
My primary teaching interests lie at the intersection of journalism, data science, and computer science. I regularly teach a course oriented around data-driven storytelling that emphasizes a critical understanding of data as objects and discourse as well as the skills necessary to gather, analyze, and visualize data-driven stories. I also regularly teach Introduction to Journalism, a foundational course in the Journalism Department at UMass. I have previously taught courses in information literacy and visual storytelling. I have been selected as a Lilly Teaching Fellow and was a finalist for UMass' Distinguished Teaching Award.
How can journalists use data to find stories? How can they tell stories through data? This hands-on course provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to begin gathering, analyzing and visualizing interactive, data-driven stories. Students will work in small groups to tackle questions pertaining to ethical data sourcing, data analysis and making data meaningful for the public. They will also produce their own exciting and thought-provoking digital news stories. Prior experience with advanced statistics, web design or computer programming is neither assumed nor necessary, and course content will adapt to students' collective skills. However, a willingness to experiment, learn new technologies and embrace iteration in a cooperative environment is a must.
Introduction to Journalism
Introduction to Journalism is a survey class that covers the basic principles and practices of contemporary journalism. Students will explore the foundations of journalism, learn key skills involved in news work and critically evaluate the position and role of contemporary journalism in a democratic society. Students will also assess changes in the production, distribution and consumption of journalism as new technologies are introduced to newsrooms. The course is broken up into four main sections: (1) the development and role of journalism in democratic societies; (2) key legal decisions for journalists and the process of ethical decision-making; (3) the fundamental skills involved in journalism; and (4) emerging forms of news work and the future of journalism. At the end of this course, students should have a broad understanding of journalism (as practiced in the United States) and feel confident in their ability to continue their journalism studies at UMass.
Introduction to Visual Storytelling
Journalism is visual. The most visited content on the New York Times website in 2014 was a series of portraits; in 2013, it was a quiz based on a data visualization concerning regional dialects. About 10 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube in the time it took you to read this sentence. Visual storytelling has evolved dramatically in the 21st Century. With approximately 1.9 billion smartphones in the world, social media has changed how we interpret visual truth. Concurrently, media outlets have experimented with new ways of storytelling that incorporate both the style and substance of this new visual ecosystem. Visual journalists still need to be good at taking pictures and video, of course, but they also need to be smart, creative and ethical multimedia reporters. There are two main learning goals for this class. The first is for you to become a better visual journalist by practicing photojournalism, video journalism and data visualization. The second goal is for you to better understand how images, video, design and infographics function in our modern media ecosystem. In short, you will become a better producer and a smarter consumer of visual stories.
Information for Mass Communication
We live in a world of information riches and unprecedented communications access. This course is intended to help you understand how you, as an aspiring communicator, can make the best use of this abundance of information. More specifically, this course focuses on how to (a) efficiently locate and gather relevant information; (b) critically assess that information to evaluate its quality and possible sources of influence; (c) consider the ethical implications of using that information in different ways; and (d) use that information to craft credible, effective, and targeted communications messages. The strategies, techniques, and resources discussed in this course apply to various types of media work; they also apply to academic work such as term papers and projects. A case study format will be used to study this process in depth throughout the semester.