What I’m Doing Here

September 6, 2009

Just another WordPress.com weblog. WP’s default tagline says what we’re all thinking, doesn’t it? “Yawn, another blog.” Here’s why I’m joining this exclusive 133-million-member club and why, I hope, it won’t put you to sleep:

Well, it’s for school. Elon University’s brand-spanking-new interactive media master’s program to be exact. My 36 classmates and I will be filing regular dispatches from the front lines of this emerging field. We’ll be responding to class discussions, chronicling our futures-oriented research and posting whatever else we find interesting. 

Before we get going, I thought I’d share my admissions essay. Written in February, it offers as good an overview as any as to how I arrived here and where I want to go next. My about page fills in the rest.

Why do you wish to pursue a graduate degree in Interactive Media at Elon?

A year ago, with not quite four years of community newspaper reporting and copy editing under my belt, I foresaw answering a similar prompt for a business school or law school application. My heart resisted leaving journalism, but my head worried about earning a comfortable living.

With media companies hemorrhaging money, jobs and audience members, few would have blamed me for fleeing to another field. My dad, as devoted a newspaper reader as you’ll find who cherished my choice of vocation, even encouraged my search for greener pastures.

I weighed my professional future against the backdrop of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, the first where candidates and those covering them fully embraced interactive media. Somewhere in between an animated snowman querying candidates about global warming and the president-elect texting supporters as he began his victory speech, I realized I’d be a fool to leave journalism now. The old model of gathering and delivering news may be dying, but the new model is just coming to life – and today’s practitioners are the ones who will define it. Elon’s interactive media program offers me the exciting opportunity to be among these pioneers.

Its flashy technology alone makes interactive media an enticing field. Just ask any of the millions of full-grown adults who drooled over the iPhone 3G last summer. But, what captivates me most is interactive media’s capacity to improve the quality of journalism. Readers can scour public documents for irregularities a lone reporter missed. Citizen bloggers can call out mainstream outlets when their reporting isn’t up to snuff. Mobile phone users can send and receive breaking news as it happens. Given all journalists have accomplished without these tools, there’s no telling what they’ll accomplish with them.

A master’s degree in interactive media from Elon would prepare me to navigate this new landscape as a manager at a community newspaper, a position I’ve long aspired to. At the same time, it would provide me skills that, if need be, could be easily transferred to a more lucrative field.

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