The next chapter of my career will be at Louisiana State University. After I wrap up my work at Digital First Media July 1, I will become the Lamar Family Visiting Scholar at LSU’s Manship School of Communication.
I have enjoyed teaching as a part-time pursuit for several years now. I am excited about making it my full-time job. I’ll be teaching, working with students on a social media project and working with other faculty and staff to improve digital journalism education at the school.
Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Manship School, emailed me the morning of April 2, as I was on the train to New York to get the word about DFM’s plans to shut down Thunderdome and eliminate more than 50 jobs. He asked if I’d be affected. I told Jerry that my job would be one of those eliminated, and he told me later that day that he wanted me to come to LSU as the Lamar Visiting Scholar at the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs. After a May visit to Baton Rouge and more emails and phone calls than I will bother to count, we sealed the deal this month.
I enjoyed the dynamic of teaching the first time I stood before a classroom at Central College in Pella, Iowa, in 1980. I taught two courses at Central in the 1980s as an adjunct professor, and ever since thought that might be something I’d like to do someday.
In 1997, I started teaching professional journalists, first as a sidelight to my journalism work, then juggling reporting with writing-coach duties for the Des Moines Register and Omaha World-Herald. In 2005, I moved into professional training full-time for the American Press Institute.
Though I moved back to a newsroom in 2008 to become editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, I also returned to the classroom, while I was there, co-teaching a class at the University of Iowa. I also did considerable training in my newsroom there and other newsrooms to follow.
When I moved back to the Washington area in 2010, I continued juggling teaching with my journalism work for TBD and DFM, teaching classes for both American and Georgetown universities. In addition, I’ve been a guest speaker at dozens more universities, including my initial visit to LSU last December.
I relish the challenging questions students ask. I enjoy helping students learn, try to master new skills and concepts.
I explored a wide range of opportunities after learning my time at DFM was coming to an end, doing 10 in-person interviews, two video interviews and several phone interviews. I explored academic, news, nonprofit, public relations and other types of media jobs. I had one other offer and three strong active prospects when I decided on LSU.
This is what I want to do and where I want to be.
And here are some songs to help me get ready for my new home:
For the record, though, I do eat beignets.