As we start this year, many of my friends (and probably yours too) have taken to social media to ask others to help hold them accountable when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions.
Of course journalists are all about accountability and holding people to their word. But can we cut a quick deal and ignore all the New Year’s resolutions I’ve made in the past? No really, I’ve got a solid one this year. And seriously, did you honestly expect me to give up chocolate for more than 12 hours? And color code my file folders? Yeah right.
Here, then is my 2014 resolution, so you can all ask me about it this time next year, or preferably before.
My goal is to propose at least one new class a semester in the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of New Mexico, where I currently teach as an adjunct instructor.
(While I’ve had this thought for a while, I started thinking more about it after a Facebook request by University of Wisconsin-Madison Assistant Professor Katy Culver, who asked what educators are resolving to do this year. Her request turned into a post with a fun infographic on Mediashift.org.)
So during this first week in January, I’ve already taken one step and finished my first grant proposal. It’s a key part of what I have resolved to do, because we need new equipment to start up a mobile reporting class I’m scheduled to teach this fall. In the scheme of things, it’s a small request, some $6,000 for 10 iPad minis and the lights, lenses and mics that go with them. (Bags, too.)
Please note that I may be cheating a tiny bit on this resolution, because I did get approval for the class in the fall of 2013, but all resolutions have a bit of fudging involved, right? That said, this is the year I hope to complete this task, so let’s just put it in the 2014 category.
Although the amount is small, it’s a big step for me, in part because it is my first grant, and in part because it would be my first time teaching mobile reporting.
It’s also a big step for the department. This will be the first mobile reporting class offered at UNM. I’m thrilled I have the green light. I hope to bring other digital skills classes to the department this year as well.
Entwined in my goal is my hope to give my students the most current and relevant digital skills. I want them to be able to go out and produce a story that’s ready for the web, all on their own, and with accessible and simple equipment. I want them to understand social media, multimedia and the ethical implications of both. I want them to feel confident using new equipment and new apps. In short, I want them to succeed at newspapers and other news organizations once they graduate. (If not before.)
I acknowledge my goal here is neither unique nor new. After reading parts of Searchlights and Sunglasses by Eric Newton during winter break, I know I’m not alone in this and I’m inspired by others across the country proposing similar classes (and projects within classes) that aim to improve journalism education and truly prepare our students. Much has been said about the direction journalism education needs to go, and I’m thrilled to play just a tiny part of helping student journalists keep up with the technological innovations.
I’d love to hear from you throughout the year about your goals and your classes as well.