Michael Deas is a lecturer at Medill who teaches reporting and writing to both undergraduate and graduate students.
What courses do you teach at Medill?
I teach a variety of reporting and editing classes to both undergraduate and graduate journalism students. I primarily teach Media Presentation: Newspaper/Online, Reporting & Writing, Multimedia Reporting and Urban Issues Reporting.
What excites you about teaching journalism today?
These are exciting times in journalism, given that there are so many ways to affect rational public discourse through accurate, relevant and responsible storytelling. Today, technology offers journalists so much flexibility in reporting. For example, reporters can use tablets and mobile phones to write, videotape, photograph and tweet about spot news virtually from anywhere in the world at any time.
Why did you want to get into teaching?
I receive enormous satisfaction from helping students develop and realize their potential. I enjoy the interaction with students and the stimulation of an intellectual environment. I don’t want to imply that the newsroom lacked these qualities, but it’s a totally different type of energy in a classroom filled with smart and resourceful students. One would be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding profession.
How do your own professional experiences influence your teaching?
I typically draw from relevant experiences to illustrate or emphasize salient points. By being candid about my failures and successes, I think students tend to embrace me as a credible source. Accuracy is the centerpiece of everything I teach. I understand how a critical mistake at the wrong time can be financially and personally damaging to anyone’s career, which explains my reasonably rigorous standards. Ultimately, I’m committed to preparing students for a competitive job market after graduation.
What three words would you use to describe yourself as a teacher?
Encouraging, challenging and engaging
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I firmly believe that the truest measure of an effective educator manifests itself when students are struggling — not just when they’re excelling. I’m thrilled whenever a student experiences an epiphany or a moment of intuitive understanding.