Welcome to my blog. I’m Marie K. Shanahan, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut. I teach digital newsgathering, online production, multimedia storytelling techniques, and online media ethics to undergraduate journalism students on the Storrs campus.

I’m planning to use this online space to explore my research topics: anonymous online speech, online civility, free speech, digital defamation, online reputation and the disruptive effects of new technology on traditional news media.

I’ve worked as a professional journalist for 17 years, 12 of them as an online journalist. My career started as a print newspaper reporter at The Hartford Courant about two weeks after receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Connecticut.

When I graduated from UConn, students did not yet have access to email. My first cell phone (purchased in December 1994) was about the size of a loaf of bread. There was no such thing as DVR or iPods, or the ability to download mp3s (illegally or otherwise). UConn had yet to win a national basketball championship.

The first five years of my professional career I spent as a print newspaper reporter at The Hartford Courant. I wrote plenty of copy – at least one story per day – about crime, local government, education or health issues. My favorite stories to write involved profiles of interesting people. My least favorite stories to write were about violence, especially when the victims were children.

A few of my favorites:
For Arena Restaurant, the End of Something
Face To Face On Abortion: Escorts, Protesters Meet On Front Line
Behind Bars, the Mourning Must Wait
Would-be Parents Follow Dreams to China
Passage from India: Asian Indians Living American Dream in Connecticut
First Town Fracas: 360 Years Later The Wethersfield-Windsor Question Still Unsettled
Jon S. Erlandson Helped Pave The Way For Disabled People

I was not expected to take photographs or shoot video with my stories, although occasionally I’d record an interview with this piece of technology.

When I voluntarily resigned my position as a city desk reporter to join the newspaper’s online staff – first as an online producer and eventually as deputy online editor – my print journalism peers reacted to my career choice with collective disapproval. Why in the world would I want to sit in front of a computer all day and mess with HTML and Photoshop?

Most of my print journalism colleagues turned up their noses at the web as a place to deliver journalism and treated me like a pariah. The internet was clunky and obscure, and it was giving away the news for free. Online journalism, they told me, was a bad career move.

They were wrong.

It’s all different now.

Readers don’t have to consume static words and pictures on dead trees delivered once a day. Technology changed the game. Communication is ubiquitous. Information can be easily created, accessed, archived and shared. News is now.

To remain relevant, journalists must adapt and operate as part of this modern communication “network” – creatively telling and distributing stories, investigating and evaluating truth and “truthiness”, acting as guides and curators of information, joining and building communities, and engaging in “conversations.” So I am teaching digital journalism, in all its exhausting and exhilarating forms, to undergraduate students.

Fall 2011 marked my full-time return to UConn as an assistant journalism professor. I previously taught online journalism as an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University, the same institution where I earned my master’s degree in Interactive Communications in 2010.

I’m also a mom and a vegetarian (occasional pescatarian), who enjoys practicing yoga, paddleboarding and photography, drinking red wine, and watching my daughter’s soccer games, (but not necessarily in that order).

Twitter: @mariekshan
Facebook: facebook.com/mariekshan
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/mariekshan

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