Two Down, Three (or More) to Go

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is just a quick blurb to update my status about my online studies with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's journalism program.  This past semester, I took JOURNAL 300, Newswriting & Reporting, and I'm happy to report that I got an 'A' for the course (and that grade helped me maintain my 4.0 GPA carried over from last fall's JOURNAL 201, Intro to Journalism, offering).  This was the program's only 'required' course and I can now choose from the remaining selections to complete the minimum of five needed for the certificate (but I would like to take more than that, if the VA allows).

As you may have noticed here over the past few months, I took the title (and the focus) of this class to heart and greatly expanded my journalistic 'license' to varying degrees of success.  In addition to what I posted here on the blog since February, I also was given class assignments where I interviewed a local florist, a 77-year old Air Force veteran and a local reporter/columnist/online aggregator for the Dayton Daily News but I have not been granted permission by the other parties to post them online.  I also attended a local city council meeting, but by the time I got the assignment back, the next meeting already happened at that report would've shown its 'staleness'.  I greatly enjoyed covering the political events and meeting the folks who report on them for a living and I'm hoping to continue these throughout the rest of this year's campaign season (and perhaps covering a presidential event as a media member and not as an observer from a great distance away).

One bit of sad news to classmates and I found out late in the term that our instructor, Dr. Frank (Proinsias) Falkner, will be retiring this summer after 46 years in journalism and 38 in teaching.   'Dr. F.', as I addressed him on the discussion boards and in emails, started his career in the UPI office in Saigon in 1966 after a 4-year stint in the US Army.  His journalistic experiences in Vietnam were the basis for his doctoral dissertation on how poorly the American news media covered the war, treating it "mostly as a sports event or a police beat, with many brave, but few intellectually aggressive reporters challenging the basic premise of the war or receiving any encouragement to do so from editors in the United States."

His 726-page treatise (806 when you include all of the footnotes and vast bibliography) has been cited on numerous occasions by other authors in their reviews on media coverage of that military conflict.  As a UMass student, I was able to download this document and did promise that I would read it at some point in the future.  I do have Dr. Faulkner's email address and I hope to keep in contact with him as he transitions towards retirement.  I did appreciate his feedback on my class assignments and my online activities here and I may be picking his 'brain' from time to time as I hopefully go forward in this profession.

UMass Amherst offers three periods of online summer studies and I've opted for the latest one (July 11 through August 14) to take JOURNAL 397W, Introduction to Online Journalism.  Based on the class description, I believe that I'm already doing most of this now but it's never a bad thing to get college credit for something you already know or do.  In the interim, I will be taking on some long-neglected chores and posting occasional pieces here to keep my developing skills current.  Perhaps one of those chores will be figuring out how to upload a .pdf version of a dissertation to my e-reader.


Ashley Dale said...

Hi there!

I stumbled upon your blog because of Dr. Faulkner. I'm in his journalism 300 class right now and I love it! Currently, we're doing a research assignment where we have to find information about him strictly from online sources. From what I've found so far, he sounds like an awesome guy! I'm sad to hear that this will be his last year of teaching. I'm glad I have gotten the chance to be taught by him. Class isn't over yet, but I think he's a great teacher.

JoB said...

I remember that assignment well. When I found one of his recent online photos, I compared him to the current spokesman for 'Dos Equis'--'the most interesting man in the world'. You'll see that and a lot of other interesting tidbits about Dr. F. floating around the internet.

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