Opening the doors to a new career

Newspapers and magazines are struggling. Websites hire mostly young (aka cheap) writers and editors. I never pursued TV, radio or video, so forget about that.

I see what’s happening around the country and realize my days as a sports writer and editor as I know them might be coming to an end. And while that might sound sad, I see a chance to shape my future.

Media has changed. There are so many more elements to it these days.

I look to this pursuit of a master’s degree as a new adventure, a time of exploration, rejuvenation and reinvention.

Goals for this class

Digital Media Design & Aesthetics (JRMC 7010) is one of my first two courses as I seek my next step, the one where I might spend the rest of my career. It’s already shown me that much of what I’ve done in journalism is practiced in design (in no particular order):.

  • Accuracy is key.
  • Keep things simple.
  • Get out of the way of the story.
  • Explain the basics.
  • Have empathy for others.
  • Do your research.
  • Provide context.
  • Be creative, and if possible, entertain.
  • Listen.

So I expect this course will help me take these concepts I’ve practiced for 30-plus years and apply them to design and the processes of design. The anecdotes and real-world problems discussed in “Tragic Design” have already piqued the troubleshooter in me and my natural curiosity to learn how to stop issues before they reach the public.

There is no room for errors in journalism. Facts, spelling, names, grammar all need to be correct and polished when the publish key is hit. As the story of the Therac-25 and other examples showed us, there is no room for mistakes in design. And if there are, the consequences can be great, even fatal.

I firmly believe that this course will set the tone for the other classes that follow and continue to open my mind to this world of emerging media.

Possible move into the classroom

I’ve guest lectured in several Grady College classes, taught workshops and have mentored journalists and Red & Black writers for years, so I might pursue educational opportunities that this master’s degree would give me.

I love teaching on this level. My mom was a teacher and my wife Lori is a UGA professor. I love to see and hear about the relationships (mostly good) she has with students, both current and former. I know teaching a class of 20-plus undergrads is far more hazardous than mentoring 6-7 students, but it’s an incredible age and I’ve found college students and young professionals willing to listen and to be taught and mentored.

That leads to the question: What do I teach, if that’s in my future?

Something in the Grady building, most likely. Journalism, other than sports, is what I know best, so there might be a place for me there, at least on an adjunct level. That would also give me the freedom to keep running the freelance writing and editing business that Lori and I started 13 years ago, if I desire.

Or, if that doesn’t work out or I tire of freelancing, I could look at staff jobs at UGA, which sometimes require a master’s degree. The tools and skills I learn in this class and others, coupled with my experience, should make me marketable in several areas.