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Owen Youngman

Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
Personal Website


Owen Youngman, a new-media visionary and longtime Chicago Tribune journalist, became the Knight Chair in 2009.

Grant Background

The Chair will create new knowledge and advances in multimedia journalism and the presentation of news using different media: writing, sound, moving and still images, and interactivity. The chair holder will help Medill explore new and emerging ways of delivering news and information on digital platforms. The Chair will provide hands-on, full-time instruction to undergraduate and master’s students and be capable of teaching entry-level as well as advanced courses.

Recent Activities

By teaching two sessions of Northwestern’s first massively online open course (MOOC), acquired numerous insights into the evolution of distance learning, publishing and speaking widely on the topic in ways that brought favorable attention to Medill, Northwestern, and the Knight Chair.

Continued to oversee capstone projects and independent studies for many of Medill’s international graduate students, helping them to scope and to scale businesses that they intend to begin upon return to their home countries.

Continued to advance the mission of the Knight Lab and in particular to increase the success and visibility of its student fellows and graduates; assumed primary responsibility for faculty oversight of the Lab with an eye to extending its impact beyond the original grant period.

•  What are the most promising changes you see in journalism education as a whole, and why do you think they are hopeful?

More and more journalism educators are broadening their approach to encourage students to understand their audiences’ needs and, when appropriate, leverage their audience’s existing knowledge to further their own understanding of complex topics. The “teaching hospital” model championed by Eric Newton and Knight, long employed at Medill, is gaining currency, helping the great work of students to have broader impact. And American journalism students are increasingly cognizant of the global nature of both their work and their audiences, leading to an improvement in their understanding and perspective.

•        Internet surveillance, freedom and privacy have become central concerns for those journalists in the digital age. What are you teaching your students about those topics?

All my courses include sessions specifically about Internet privacy and the implications for journalists and their audiences. In my graduate course this past year, we focused one of the principal groups activities – a modified “moot court” styled after those in law schools – on the standards to which journalists and journalism organizations should hold themselves both in their reporting and in their relationships with users, readers, and viewers. My undergraduate students are asked to explore their own privacy, or lack of it, online and decide whether or not they need to change their behavior in order to make themselves more comfortable with what they discover that the Internet “knows” about them.