Spotlight: Learning in a Digital Age
JN professor George Daniels uses Facebook, Twitter and blogging as tools for teaching the next generation of journalists.
By Hillary Glass
If you've taken a class with Dr. George Daniels, you may already know that his favorite food is chicken, his favorite color is blue and his favorite movie is "The Preacher's Wife."
What you may not know is how Daniels got into journalism in the first place: winning a journalism contest at Virginia Commonwealth University as a sophomore in high school. That taste of deadline news reporting was enough to put Daniels on the road to his lifelong profession of choice.
"Winning the Best Story Under Deadline Pressure Award showed me I really could make a career out of this," said Daniels, who is an associate professor of journalism. "Even today, almost 25 years later, I like to report on deadline with my blog and on my YouTube Channel. It's just second nature."
After graduating fifth in his class from Thomas Jefferson High School in his hometown of Richmond, Va., Daniels attended Howard University, where he worked his way up to editor of The Hilltop, one of the oldest school newspapers at a traditionally black college in the United States. He received his undergraduate degree in news-editorial journalism before getting a master's and Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of Georgia.
Daniels' professional career began as a broadcast journalist at Richmond's CBS station, WTVR-TV. He later moved to WLWT-TV in Cincinnati before taking a job in Atlanta for five years as a part-time and full-time producer for WXIA-TV.
When Daniels saw an opening for a scholastic journalism teacher at the University of Alabama, he jumped at the opportunity. "I came to Alabama because I really liked that they had a TV station that does news each day," he said. This allowed him to intermingle his passion for broadcast news with teaching.
At UA, Daniels also has served as co-director for one of the nation's oldest high school journalism workshops – the Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which is the same type of high school program that fostered Daniels' interest in journalism as a high schooler. He's now the co-adviser for the University's Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) chapter and a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors.
Now Daniels uses tools like Twitter and Facebook to introduce journalism in 2011. On the first day of his JN 200 Introduction to Journalism class, he directs students to an eLearning homepage with links to "more about the instructor," Daniels' Twitter account, Facebook page, blog and personal homepage.
"I'm a big-time blogger," he writes on his site, www.GeorgeLDaniels.com. "I guess that's because I have an opinion on almost everything." His latest personal blog can be found at http:// bamaproducer.wordpress.com. This is the latest iteration of his blogging, which began at www.bamaproducer.blogspot.com, where he asks readers to "respond to my thoughts on any and everything about the media, race, diversity, management or whatever happens to be on my mind that particular day." He fills his sites not just with his writing, but podcasts, videos, blogs and research he's done throughout his career.
After living in Tuscaloosa for eight years, during which he has taught hundreds of journalism students in JN 101 Journalistic Principles, JN 311 News Writing and Reporting, JN 100 Introduction to Journalism (which eventually evolved into JN 200), Daniels can't see himself anywhere else. The joy of teaching for him is the knowledge that his students will be the outstanding journalists, anchors, investigative reporters and web designers of tomorrow. "Knowing that I had a hand in preparing them is the best part," Daniels said.
Hillary Glass is a sophmore, majoring in Pre-Political Science, from Alexandria, Virginia.