What inspired your move from the newsroom to the classroom at Hood?
The short answer is serendipity. I had worked for several years at The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, and one of my co-workers for a time was (now retired) Professor Al Weinberg. He came to visit the newsroom one day, and I asked him how he liked teaching at Hood. He raved about it, and so I asked him if any jobs would be open at Hood anytime soon. As it turned out, a position was open for the fall. I applied and got it and in 30 years, I have not looked back. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hood.
What first drew you to journalism? Take us briefly through your career.
I always enjoyed writing, and I grew up reading not just one but three daily newspapers, two of the Boston dailies and the local Patriot Ledger. When I entered Northeastern University as a commuter student, I knew I needed a way to make friends at a large urban university. Within my first week, I had joined the student newspaper. I found both my friends and my passion for journalism.
Northeastern offered cooperative education, which gave students a chance to alternate semesters in school with semesters of major-related work experience. My first newspaper job was in the sports department at The Patriot Ledger. After graduation, I worked as a copy editor and lifestyle editor at a paper in Western Massachusetts. I left there to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, and after earning my MSJ, I took a job at The Herald-Mail. I worked as an editor for both the morning and afternoon papers, and when I resigned to move to Hood in 1987, I was the assistant managing editor and city editor for the (now defunct) Daily Mail. Most of the positions I held involved copy editing of some sort, and Editing and Layout has always been one of my favorite courses to teach.
What kind of future are journalism students going to have?
There is no question that the journalism industry has changed since the advent of the internet. Print journalism jobs are not as plentiful, and most of the afternoon newspapers have closed or been folded into a morning edition of the same paper. That doesn’t mean, though, that journalism itself is going away or is any less valuable or that careers aren’t possible both at traditional print publications, broadcast outlets and newer online sources. The 24-hour news cycle means deadlines are always looming, and all journalists now tell stories in multiple ways, including live tweeting and live streaming. Students need more multimedia skills than ever before, and we offer them at Hood in such classes as Multimedia Storytelling, Visual Media Production, Photojournalism, and Social Media.
What’s the most important thing that they learn?
The key to being a good journalist is still to know who to call, what questions to ask, and how to evaluate the reliability and credibility of the answers you are getting. The basics will never go out of style. A good news story, whether it is done for print, broadcast or the internet, still needs to communicate the who, what, when, where, how and (most especially) why. Strong writing and critical thinking skills are still the most important elements that a student needs to learn.
What work advice do you have for students?
There are several ways that a student can prepare for a career in journalism. First, take advantage of both the extracurricular activities available at Hood and the internship opportunities to get practical experience. Join the student newspaper or the radio station. Students get the best internships and the best jobs if they can demonstrate to a potential employer that they have experience. Internships give students a chance to learn on the job and to network, so completing more than one internship can be a plus. Second, find a specialty area and learn as much about it as possible. A double-major or minor gives a student an opportunity to find a niche. If you want to become an environmental reporter, take science courses. If you want to become a political reporter, take courses in political science and law. And finally, practice, practice, practice. Start a blog, or a vlog or a podcast. Get your name out there. And when you hit it big, be willing to come back and share your experiences with the next generation of Hood students.