- Northwestern University
- Chicago, IL
- Personal Website
Owen Youngman, a new-media visionary and longtime Chicago Tribune journalist, became the Knight Chair in 2009.
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.
I. Created an undergraduate course open to the entire University that sought to educate students about the nature of 21st Century American and culture by using Google Inc. as the lens, relying on six books (and scores of other materials) on the company. The enrolled students learned to examine their lives and media habits in entirely new ways, analyzing activities that are ordinarily undertaken with very little reflection in our day-to-day lives, and by quarter’s end had become thoughtful observers of contemporary news and information practices. The class is being offered again during the 2012-2013 school year, its enrollment more than doubled.
II. At the request of Medill’s Dean, set aside the Chair’s normal priorities and research agenda to lead a course correction for the Knight News Innovation Lab, resulting in the hiring of a new Executive Director and a recalibration of the Lab’s relationship with its many communities. (This led to a postponement of my research agenda until calendar year 2013 and deferral of planned spending in support of it.)
III. Advised multiple Medill graduate students in independent studies whose goals uniformly included journalistic, financial, and marketing success, and several which resulted in students returning to their home cities or countries to pursue the launch of new Web ventures. These include a business Web site in South America, an independent news site in the Middle East, a news curation project on the Iberian peninsula, and a consulting business focused on monetizing archival content at legacy and emerging news organizations.
Question-and-answer with Knight Chair
Teaching the profession: What do you do to bring the newsroom into your classroom? How do your students learn about current journalism practices?
Guest speakers from industry appear regularly in my classrooms to interact with students, either in person or via Skype. In the past year this has included speakers from Wired, Google, Yahoo, Chicago Public Media, the Chicago News Cooperative (when still extant), the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Fox News Chicago.
So that I can keep students informed about current practices, I continue to visit print, online, and broadcast newsrooms around the nation; maintain relationships with top editors and business executives whom I cannot visit; and read widely, assigning outstanding materials that I encounter as required reading in my courses.
Media Innovation: Do you think journalism programs should keep up with the quickening pace of change in the industry? How can they? What is your approach?
Journalism programs not only need to “keep up” with the pace of change, but also need to show students how to stay ahead of the curve in thinking about the impact of rapid change.
How do we do that? My approach is this: By staying current through wide reading of books, newspapers, magazines, specialized Web sites and blogs; by committing to be an active user of new technologies, new tools, and new platforms, so as to be able to speak with knowledge about their possibilities and pitfalls; and by subjecting my own points of view to public and peer review through writing, lecturing, and making public appearances.