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Preserving the Profession: Michael Scully is N.E. Journalism Educator of the Year

Photo by: Kathryn Whitney Lucey

BRISTOL, R.I. -- The change has been progressive, but present. Where once people would thumb through the morning paper, many are now scrolling their smartphones for the latest news. It’s possible that the shift in how people consume news is indicative of the decline of journalism, but Assistant Professor of Journalism Michael Scully is optimistic.

“It’s not dying, we’re just finding new ways to tell stories,” Scully says.

This positive perspective and dedication to preserving professional journalism earned him the title of 2012 New England Journalism Educator of the Year from New England Newspaper & Press Association. According to the organization's website, the award is “to recognize a professor at a university or college in the six-state region who is doing outstanding work to prepare journalists to lead our newspaper organizations into the future.”

Though he knew he was nominated for the award, Scully calls the win flattering and reassuring that he is on the right track. Through student-faculty collaborations like “The Feed,” a student-produced web news program, and “Planet Forward,” the PBS video project that featured stories related to sustainability, Scully has been focused on cultivating a new generation of nimble reporters.

And while journalism programs have disappeared from other schools, Scully has been hard at work to develop the journalism major at RWU since his arrival in 2007. The program was officially launched in 2012; it includes a digital journalism component to prepare students for the ever-changing field they face upon graduation.

Keeping professional journalism alive in the digital age can be difficult, Scully acknowledges, particularly given what he finds to be an online media presence “polluted with amateurs.”

“Now more than ever, there needs to be a professionalism in the way journalism is done,” he says.

Scully will receive the New England Journalism Educator of the Year award at the annual New England Newspaper Conference on October 11.