May 6th, 2011
After 16 years in the newspaper business, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else, but that’s just what I’m going to do, starting at the end of this summer. I am very excited to announce that I have accepted an offer from the University of Texas to be a full-time multimedia journalism professor. I’ll start in August, and I’ll continue at the Statesman through July.
I’m excited because this is a rare opportunity to be part of a major transformation at a great journalism school. The UT School of Journalism recently voted to change its curriculum, putting much more emphasis on teaching all journalism students the necessary tools to succeed in a still-rapidly changing landscape. I expect to be a driving force behind the school’s transformation. UT’s journalism program is already excellent, and I know the faculty and staff there want to push ahead. What sold it for me is the enthusiasm of Glenn Frankel, the relatively new director of the journalism school. He has a clear vision for what they can be in a few years, and he has won over faculty and administration.
The very hard part for me is leaving the Statesman, where I’ve worked since the spring of 1998. Throughout my career here, I’ve had incredible support and guidance from management, including Zach Ryall, Tim Lott, Fred Zipp, Debbie Hiott, John Bridges and Michael Vivio (who has since become president of Valpak). I wouldn’t have been able to do half of what I accomplished without their help. The other major reason I found success in pushing ahead at the Statesman is my remarkable colleagues. They “get it” when it comes to new media, which made my job much easier. Some of the finest journalists in the nation work at the Statesman, but they’re not just colleagues – they’re my friends. I met my wife here. I also met the best man at my wedding here. I will miss mixing it up with everyone in the newsroom, but I’m glad I’ll still be in Austin with them.
I’m not leaving because of anything going on at the Statesman or in the newspaper industry. I know that I could continue pushing the envelope when it comes to social media and new media into the future at the Statesman. I have no doubt that the Statesman will remain a national leader when it comes to social media and new media, and I’ll eagerly follow the Statesman’s social streams to get my news and to interact with the staff. The UT job was just something I felt I couldn’t pass up.
In my new role, I’m looking forward to teaching the bright minds who come to UT. I’ve been a guest-lecturer several times at UT and at Austin Community College, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely each time. I’m also going to blog about the latest techniques in the field of journalism, with professional journalists as my target audience.
This wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m very excited about where it will take me.
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