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Digital Journalism Prof Joins Faculty

10/14/15

C:\fakepath\shawn-mcintosh crop.jpgOne of MCLA’s newest additions to its faculty is Dr. Shawn T. McIntosh, an assistant professor of digital journalism and communications, who will contribute to an integrated, convergent media curriculum here on campus.

McIntosh comes to MCLA from New York, N.Y., where he taught public relations and corporate communication at New York University’s School of Professional Studies. He also lectured at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education, where his specialty was strategic communications.

Although the advent of digital media and the Internet have vastly changed the field of journalism over the last two decades, McIntosh said some promising signs include the launch and expansion of a number of digital-only media companies.

The rise of mobile communications – both in terms of how people get information and how they interact with and use that information – is a trend worth noting.

“Journalism will have to be more engaged with the community than it used to be in a dialogic and participatory way, and news organizations will have to vie for the public's attention in ways that they didn't have to before,” McIntosh said.

“Journalists will also have to think more like strategic communicators as they promote and essentially ‘market’ their stories in order to attract the most attention. They will have to be conversant in audience analytics and certain social media metrics that they never had to consider before,” he explained.

McIntosh feels safe in predicting that the skills journalism students learn – such as how to write well, tell a good story in different formats, do research, critically analyze information and bring truth – will be more relevant than ever in a social media world.

“Students who master these skill sets will be in high demand in a wide variety of organizations, even if they are not necessarily working in a ‘traditional’ news organization,” he said.

McIntosh brings with him international experience. After college, he worked for a small London news agency for a year before moving to Japan, where he remained for nine years.

“I did a lot of freelance magazine pieces for various U.S. publications, wrote for some of the local English-language publications, was editor of an ikebana (flower arranging) magazine, co-editor of a journal at a think tank, where I started their first website, and even published my own travel and general interest magazine for two years, which taught me a lot,” he said.

Excited about the potential that digital media had for transforming journalism and forms of storytelling, McIntosh went on to earn his master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University, concentrating on what was then called “new media,” before earning his Ph.D. from Rutgers State University in New Jersey.

“It is absolutely essential that students understand both larger concepts and theories and the actual practices that make a good story,” he emphasized. “If students only learn practical skills, it will not prepare them for when things change again – and they will – and will leave them obsolete. Students have to understand the 'why' behind the 'how' in order to adapt to changes in journalism.”

McIntosh hopes his students learn to think critically about the media they use, and how it affects them from both an audience and a media producer perspective.

He is very impressed with the students he’s encountered, finding them “hungry to learn” and “very grounded in the sense of wanting to get the most out of their education.”

“I grew up in circumstances very similar to many of these students – first one in my family to finish college, getting through school on a combination of scholarships, grants, loans and working part-time – so I get where they are coming from, and understand the importance of an education for them that will be useful and valuable.”