Teaching

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 and an opportunity to experiment, iterate, and create. My overarching goal as an instructor is to help students find their place within the field while instilling in them a critical awareness of their profession, the skills needed to excel within it, 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 three courses: (1) Data-Driven Storytelling, which emphasizes a critical understanding of data as objects and discourse as well as the skills necessary to gather, analyze, and visualize data-driven stories; (2) Introduction to Journalism, a foundational course that offers a survey of the discipline and exposes students to basic journalistic skills; and (3) International Journalism, which introduces conceptual lenses for understanding and comparing different media systems around the world. I also teach other courses on a more ad-hoc basis.

I am a former Lilly Teaching Fellow, winner of the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences’ Outstanding Teaching Award, and finalist for UMass’ Distinguished Teaching Award.


Courses Taught

Data-Driven Storytelling

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.

Related content: Syllabus, Learning Materials

 

Introduction to Journalism

This is a survey course 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.

Related content: Syllabus, Learning Materials

 

International Journalism

This course employs a social scientific lens to examining the challenges and issues facing journalists covering global affairs. The class is structured around three overarching areas: (1) canonical theories for understanding impacts on and of journalism; (2) journalistic cultures and transnational issues; and (3) journalistic routines and practices. Each of these areas is applied to the context of international journalism, highlighting what is distinct (and not so different) about bringing the world home.

Related content: Syllabus, Learning Materials

 

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.

Related content: Syllabus

 

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.

Related content: None