By Mo Krochmal
I traveled the country, well actually, both coasts and some in Chicago.
After the end of the dot-com era, I was without a job so I took a grand roadtrip with a friend and we followed a Civil War path through New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, some 5,000 miles for research that I’m still conducting. Then 9/11 came, and I found myself as a volunteer at Ground Zero, working for the Salvation Army, handing out sandwiches and water to the folks on the pile. I wrote about what I did and saw for UPI.
My next job took me, still on the web, to another corner of innovation, as I covered the emerging molecular biology tools market. I learned about genomics, proteomics and about sequencers and microarrays.
But, 9/11 had made me think about what I could do to give back to journalism and I figured that the best way to help was by teaching 30 to 50 fledgling journalists a semester and Hofstra University granted me the honor and the high privilege of joining the journalism faculty as the first digital media professor.
I started teaching Twitter as part of my class in March 2007 when Steve Rubel, who I had worked with at CMP, came to my class after SXSW and shared his knowledge and it was on. I delight in getting e-mails from former students that remark that I was certainly ahead of my time, and yes, I was. You would think that teaching today’s “digital natives” would be easy as they are so inculcated with technology. I am here to say, no, that’s not really how it is.
It took a lot of work on my syllabus and sales skills for students to understand that digital technology was changing journalism and the wave didn’t really break until 2009-2010, the just-past school year. I set the stage last summer with, yes, a road trip. I went back home to North Carolina and shared the entire way – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. You can read about what I learned at http://krochmal.posterous.com/analyzing-mobile-and-social-media-from-the-ro
Prior to that, however, Jeff Pulver came into my life and I am so grateful. I first met Jeff when I volunteered for the initial 140conf in New York. I was there at the theater at 6:30 that morning setting up and I worked the green room. I made friends at that conference that I still hold dear.
Then, the fall New York 140conf meetup came around and I asked if I could speak about teaching digital media and about the changes in journalism and I made more friends. Jeff asked me to speak at the most recent 140conf in New York and I was happy to say yes. But, this time, I did not want to be the sage on the stage for 10 minutes and I asked six students to join me to talk about their vision for the future of journalism. The students were so nervous and excited and they were wonderful. We celebrated at a nearby Japanese noodle place and talked and talked. Those students were the cream of the crop at Hofstra and they will make a difference in the field of journalism. I just know it.