- University of Florida
- Gainesville, FL
- Personal Website
Melinda McAdams reaches out to teach journalists, students and educators interested in a multimedia future through her well-trafficked web site.
Professor McAdams has worked on the Web since 1994 and was one of the pioneers in developing online journalism services.
She has trained more than 200 journalists in multimedia skills (at the Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Montreal Gazette, Austin American-Statesman, various state newspaper associations, the Nieman Fellows at Harvard, two National Writers Workshops, and several Poynter seminars). She has conducted journalism training or given presentations in Argentina, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Vietnam and Thailand.
As a Fulbright Scholar in 2004–05, she taught journalism in Malaysia and researched press freedom there.
Before moving to Florida, she was a copy editor for 11 years. She worked on the Metro desk at The Washington Post and at Time magazine in New York. In 1994, she was the first content developer at Digital Ink, The Washington Post’s first online newspaper.
The chair-holder would teach and conduct research about the ways in which technologies used to gather, analyze, organize and disseminate information contribute to journalism's role in developing informed citizens, capable of making decisions to govern themselves. The chair holder would create and teach courses that prepare future journalists to use new and emerging technologies with some sophistication in fulfilling journalism's role in a democratic society. The chair holder would be capable of developing concepts about the future of the media and the democratic process, giving special focus to emerging new media and examining these new media within the framework of political decision-making and censorship.
As part of the Journalism Department’s new, Professor Mindy McAdams updated curriculum, created and taught a new interactive online course, Multimedia Reporting, designed to give all journalism and public relations students hands-on experience with multimedia reporting tools and software early in their program. All instruction is conducted through the Sakai online course management system adopted by the university for distance education.
Knight Chair McAdams applied for and was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar grant for 2011–2012 (teaching online journalism in Indonesia, 10 months).
Knight Chair McAdams completely redesigned New Media and a Democratic Society (graduate course) to incorporate and emphasize current social media, crowd sourcing and participatory journalism.
Question-and-Answer with Knight Chair
Do you think journalism programs should keep up with the quickening pace of change in the industry? How can they? What is your approach?
Even though it’s a challenge to keep up with changes in the industry, college and university journalism programs don’t have a choice—they must stay up to date. Otherwise, their graduates will be ill prepared for actual jobs in the field.
All faculty members should be expected to maintain industry contacts, attend relevant conferences or training sessions, and know what’s happening to jobs, news products and media organizations. I don’t exclude anyone from that phrase all faculty members. It’s not only the teachers of labs and skills courses who need to pay attention, because the whole media industry is changing. Examples presented to students in journalism history courses, ethics and media law all need to be updated regularly.
When you ask, “How can they?”, I think: “How can they not?” Of course it takes time, but every news junkie spends time online. Instead of reading 10,000 Web pages about the horse race in the U.S. presidential election, the individual educator could adjust, cut back, add in some commentary from niemanlab.org, for example. Read thoroughly the relevant sections of the annual stateofthemedia.org report, such as “Mobile Devices and News Consumption: Some Good Signs for Journalism.”
I eat this dog food every semester, every week, pretty much every day. But I find that keeping up with the evolution of the news business is not the biggest challenge.
The biggest challenge is putting the realities—and the possibilities—in front of our students. They sign up for journalism classes for all kinds of reasons, but mostly, still, because they want to write. The range of amazing opportunities in journalism is a vast unknown for most of them, and they are not well served by many intro courses that focus on teaching fundamentals exactly as they have been taught for 60 years.
Nieman Journalism Lab: Mindy McAdams: Don’t just teach skills, train young journalists to be lifelong learners