From there, I began to think about privilege. As I had been so focused on white privilege until then that I did not consider that this college-educated woman from the inner city could strip the power of someone from the same place. But there I was, feeding into a system that is so cold that those who do the bidding are also being oppressed. From there, I began to engage in discussions with media makers and activists for guidance as a practitioner. Much different than the college theory. But I learned that my role was to tell other people's narratives, and my story did not mean anything when it came to their stories. When I interviewed more famous people, such as Johnnie Cochran, Judith Jamison, Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, I saw their interviews as rare opportunities to learn. And the jewels that they showed me carry on today.
You worked for a local newspaper—a format that is slowly disappearing. What do you see as the future of journalism?
Great question. The top journalism organizations are trying to figure out the future of journalism because, really, no one knows. Journalism is simply engaging in experimental practice. Some things work, other strategies do not. Some plans age out, while others fall out of trend and then become relevant again. For sure, journalism is rocky terrain. The future of everyday journalism is a convergence of the old and new. How does it look? That is up to the audience and media producers. What I think will happen are journalism collectives, meaning, media organizations (small and medium-sized) must work interdependently to survive. So, if one journalism entity is good at investigative journalism, and another is known for turning huge data into interactive presentations, then they will produce that part of the publication; they will come together and help each other while also producing local stories.
As content in general moves into the digital format, ironically, print journalism still remains relevant, but in another way. People are beginning to prefer printed books and magazines because holding a book or booklet encompasses a special experience with the text that the digital cannot offer. So print publication moves toward a boutique or cottage activity. While the mass prefers digital content, it simply is not a long-term sustainable practice. What I mean by that is that people's eyes are taking a hit. So, there must be a mixed use of visual, audio and print because the body will eventually demand it so.
Though you did not plan to go into journalism as a career, what advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
All your information is not on Google. Grow your worldview. Being a jerk guarantees a narrow career.
What is your favorite thing about teaching writing?
Seeing the growth of the student, even when they are not aware. At the end of the semester, when they look back, they all have a moment in which they see that their writing developed. They gain a level of confidence around their writing, and overall, their voice.
Describe why writing skills are critical for any field.
At the core of writing is developing your voice from many angles. You need that everywhere.
How does your journalism background help you as a professor?
Journalism is formulaic. The steps-by-steps approach helps with breaking down the science of writing. As well, I believe that students must write from multiple methods. It stretches them to expand their style and techniques.
You've said your mantra is "Academics. Artistry. Activism." How has it been useful/applicable professionally?
It allows me to be more flexible and creative with my approaches. As well, it acknowledges that I am multi-dimensional like everyone else.
Describe what makes teaching at Liberal Studies special.
Teaching alongside professors with such radically different disciplines adds to understanding assignments differently and thinking about the ways that students might approach it. This reflects in the variety of students and student interests, too. I learn from them as well.