The most interesting 12 months of my career

Ever have the sense that you are so busy teaching students how to blog that you don’t have time to blog yourself?

I’m guilty. For about the past year, I have neglected my own writing about journalism and journalism education. But the things that have kept me busy are good ones. In short, this has been the best and most dynamic year of my teaching career. I’ve learned more in the past 12 months than during any other point in my time on this planet.

In July 2014, I was named as the editor of the New Mexico News Port, a student journalism lab at the University of New Mexico, where I teach journalism. The lab, first funded by the Online News Association and now by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, serves as a hub for journalism students to collaborate with local media partners including the public television and radio stations on campus as well as the independent student newspaper.

To date, we’ve done three theme-based projects, including covering the mid-term election; producing audience-based reporting based on the WBEZ Curious City model and crafting an in-depth look at New Mexico’s innovation economy. Our work has won several local and national awards.

My work at the News Port includes story planning and editing with students in various classes in the department, overseeing a crew of student employees, and designing and developing our website.

Here’s a look at a student-produced video about our first year. The project continues to expand and grow as we reach out to new partners and help more students publish their work as they prepare for careers in journalism.

In the spring of 2015, I taught the first Mobile Reporting course at UNM. I created and pitched this class, which is cross listed as an elective in the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media program and the Communication and Journalism Department here. To fund the iPad kits for students, I wrote my first grant.

In the class, students use an iPad mini to report and produce audio and video pieces that they publish to a group WordPress site. I will teach the class again in spring 2016, and the class has been chosen to be part of a new Innovation Academy at UNM.

Here’s some of the best work from the inaugural class.

Meanwhile, this summer, I started helping guide students at the New Mexico Daily Lobo from a daily print schedule into a twice-weekly, online-first approach. Part of my work with students as their writing coach involves helping them incorporate digital and social media into a new newsroom workflow and mentality. Next month, I will give a training on using Periscope to cover breaking news.

For the fall 2015 semester, I’m teaching a 200-level writing and editing for multimedia class. I was given the latitude and encouragement to shake up the syllabus a bit and run the course more as a newsroom than a classroom. I consider this my tiny corner of the teaching hospital model of journalism education. I believe students can only learn journalism from doing journalism and the sooner this starts in their college careers, the better.

As part of their work in my class, students write directly for the Daily Lobo as well as the News Port. So far, students have been excited to see their work in print and online. To ease students into the idea, I have a student editor in the classroom with me every other week to go over edits and workshop ideas. I think this helps the students feel more connected to the newsroom process.

As this semester progresses, I look forward to reporting back (more often) on this initiative and a few of the other projects I have underway. Stay here or follow my blog for updates.



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