Room to grow

Nine and a half years ago, I embarked into a career adventure few could imagine. I was the proud mom of a one-year-old toddler who was looking at her first opportunity to help manage a newsroom. As executive producer, I had a chance to take my knowledge as a newscast producer into a professional environment while teaching up and coming journalists at the same time. No where else in the world can you run an NBC affiliate and teach at a world-renowned journalism program.

My career took a fascinating (and some would say geeky) turn when my news director, Stacey Woelfel, allowed me to research and prepare our newsroom’s transition from linear editing and an old newsroom computer system to non-linear editing that communicated with a new newsroom computer system. I analyzed how newsrooms used it, what they did right and wrong. The building and organizing process opened my brain to coding and digital organization. (By the way, that picture is me managing breaking news from the floor of an airport in 2007.)

About a year later, the Missouri School of Journalism’s relationship with Apple gave me an opportunity to help introduce podcasting to the higher education world. I helped lead EDUCAUSE into the concept of podcasting by collecting and sharing a collection of podcasts during the EDUCAUSE Learning Institute conference in January 0f 2005. I had produced an entire conference experience for anyone to hear on demand.

On demand!

In 2005 the only on demand experience I knew came from TiVO. The idea of delivering information that lands into your iPod blew my mind. This was BEFORE the iPhone and podcasts that easily fed into iTunes. It opened my mind and I just didn’t stop from that point forward.

How many work environments would have fostered my desire to continue to learn and teach young journalists along the way? I traveled to China, I taught and spoke across the country, I watched hundreds of former students do AMAZING things with their careers. At the same time I started really understanding the digital world, my daughter was born. My digital knowledge helped me as I started to navigate the special needs parenting world.

What an amazing ride.

As I move away from my 17 years of journalism… I have to recognize the remarkable experience I’ve had at KOMU 8 News, the Missouri School of Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. I was able to discover the incredible potential of social media long before it really caught on. The @KOMUnews account launched in June 2007. We had a Facebook page LONG before brands had pages. I worked in an environment that fostered and supported my energy to constantly learn and experiment. Sure, not everything worked. But everything we did on air and online taught the industry and students about the changing face of journalism. (That picture is from our J-school centennial in 2008.)

Without this experience, I would have never met members of the social team at AARP during SXSW in 2010. I would have never even known about the opportunity I’m about to take. I’m so excited to take my years of experience as a teacher and as a journalist to help the AARP. What an amazing challenge to take my teaching skills and help build a curriculum for the organization. I have even more to learn and so much to share. It’s really exciting.

Thank you to the many, many students who worked with me these many years. I am so happy to continue working and learning with you. Thank you to the fabulous faculty members at Mizzou – in and out of the journalism school. Thank you to the many J-School and KOMU staff who were so wonderful to work with. Thank you to the incredible social journalists and members of #wjchat for being a part of the journalism community that cares about the industry and good journalism. And most importantly, my husband and the rest of my family deserve a lot of thanks for putting up with my geekiness.

I am not closing my connection to journalism… I’m just going to be working differently. I’m planning to stay in touch thanks to my role as a moderator of #wjchat. My husband will remain in the KOMU newsroom so I won’t be too far away. And best of all, I have the many former students who remain in the journalism and communications industries. We’ll continue to share and learn from each other… Just like I said I always would. Once you’re my student, you’ll always be my student.

2 comments ↓

#1 Todd on 10.24.12 at 2:48 pm

Very interesting to read about your career path. I wish you all the best as you embark on your new adventure. AARP is one smart organization to hire someone like you.

#2 Tania Tirraoro on 10.25.12 at 9:12 am

Best of luck, Jen. As a former TV news gal myself, I can tell you, you may leave the newsroom, but it never leaves you…

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