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Rosental C. Alves

Knight Chair in International Journalism
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas
Personal Website


Rosental Alves and his Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas are helping to establish self-sustaining, professional journalism groups and pioneering e-learning throughout the Americas.


Rosental Alves, veteran Brazilian reporter and editor, directs the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

More than 31,000 journalists, citizen journalists, journalism students and professors from 160 countries participated in seven Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) produced by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas during the academic year 2013-2014. The 12-year-old Center is an outreach program of the Knight Chair in International Journalism of the University of Texas at Austin. Since its creation in 2012, the Knight Center’s MOOC program (the only one of its kind in the world) has had more than 50,000 people from around the world registered in its free online courses on journalism. The MOOCs covered topics such as data-journalism, data visualization/infographics, social media for journalists, investigative journalism, mobile journalism, entrepreneurial journalism and digital tools for journalists.

More than 400 people from 40 countries attended the 15th International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) and the 7th Ibero American Colloquium on Digital Journalism, hosted by the Knight Chair at the University of Texas in April 2014. ISOJ is a unique global conference that bridges the gap between the digital news industry and the journalism/communication academic field. ISOJ’s activities have also been followed by hundreds of people from around the world through live video streaming. They generated so many tweets that #ISOJ was a “trending topic” on Twitter in the USA on both days of the conference. The research papers presented at the conference were included in a new edition of the academic journal called #ISOJ that was launched on the first day of the conference. This is another of ISOJ’s unique characteristics: it eliminated the traditional gap between research presentation and research publication.

In addition to four regular classes offered to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Texas at Austin, the Knight Chair extended its outreach during this academic year through 15 presentations and workshops in a variety of countries and conferences, from the 66th World Newspaper Congress and 21st World Editors Forum in Turin, Italy; the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Conference, in Paris, France; to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference in Montréal, and the 10th Brazilian Newspapers Congress, in São Paulo, Brazil.

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

As someone who has been teaching online journalism since very early (I created the first course on this topic at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997-1998), I am delighted to see a more aggressive and generalized move in journalism education toward a better understanding of the huge impact of the digital revolution on our field. After many years of reluctance, more schools are changing their curricula, more educators are adopting digital tools in their classes and more researchers are studying the emergence of a new media ecosystem that is increasingly and radically different from the previous one. I have been happy to see, for example, the recent proliferation of new classes on entrepreneurial journalism, data-visualization, mobile reporting, social media, coding, etc. More schools of journalism are using digital technologies to produce and distribute news about their communities or regions, embracing the idea of a more practical training of students, following the model of teaching hospitals. All these changes in journalism education contribute to create learning spaces more attuned with the rapid changes in the media ecosystem. They make me more hopeful about the future of journalism.

•       Give us an example of a media company or organization that you see doing innovative journalism with impact. How do you use this example in your teaching?

My example is the Texas Tribune, an innovative non-profit journalism organization based in Austin that has become a huge success by creating a new module that has proven to be effective and self-sustainable. I’m not only a regular reader of the Trib, but I have been in the board of directors of the organization since its inception. I have had first-hand knowledge of its effectiveness. From its innovative business model with diversified revenue streams to the pioneer use of data-journalism techniques and the undisputed leadership in the coverage of Texas Capitol, the Tribune proved that it is possible to create new sustainable news enterprises in this rapidly changing media landscape. Since I first started teaching my class on Entrepreneurial Journalism in 2011, the Texas Tribune, founded in 2009, has been a case study that inspires my students.