Faculty profile: Lee Miller

Professor Lee Miller discusses Bloomberg News' role in the GBJ program

Faculty profile: Rick Dunham

Global Business Journalism’s program co-director on multimedia, how he ended up in China, and why he is excited for journalism’s future

 

Rick Dunham never studied journalism at school. His younger self believed journalism is practiced, not taught. So that younger self might be surprised to learn where he ended up: as co-director of the Global Business Journalism program and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

 

“I’ve discovered that opportunities come to you in life, you just have to embrace them,” he said in an interview in his office at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication.

 

As the 2019 class begins its studies in the GBJ program, Dunham hopes that more students will take the opportunities life gives them, just as he did. Now a veteran journalist with a long list of accomplishments behind him – White House correspondent, Washington bureau chief, president of the National Press Club in Washington among them – he has witnessed 

the changing news industry over the last four decades. According to Dunham, students today need more than just the traditional

reporting and writing abilities. Effective 

journalists today benefit from an arsenal of multimedia and data analyzing skills. “You can train yourself in all of them, but I think there is a real benefit from being in an academic setting,” he said.

 

Dunham had been a career journalist from age 17. He wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer when he was an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania. He was a Washington correspondent for the Dallas Times Herald and Business Week. He served as the Washington bureau chief for publications like the Houston Chronicle and the Hearst  Newspapers chain. When he came to Washington in 1984, it was in an era when fax machines were a novelty, Rolodexes were an

Rick Dunham: "Opportunities come to you in life."

essential, and the daily news came printed on ink that got your thumbs dirty. He did not expect the personal computer, and then the smartphone. He did not imagine words like “page views,” “big data,” and “interactive multimedia” entering the common journalism lexicon.

 

He also did not expect to come to China, fall in love with teaching, and then stay here teaching courses like Multimedia Reporting, Advanced News Writing and Data Journalism Storytelling. But when newspaper revenues declined and rounds of staff cuts began in the U.S., stress skyrocketed for senior journalists. When he saw the posting for a new co-director at Tsinghua, he decided it would be interesting for a year. He applied, and then stayed for six.

Despite the pessimistic portrait of print media in decline, Dunham is optimistic for the next

generation of journalism. Even before he came to China, he had taught classes and hosted panel discussions about new forms of digital journalism. One of the draws of his job now is the chance to mentor smart young people from all over the world.

 

So, what’s the future like for his students in the GBJ program? According to Dunham, the field will be “definitely digital, mobile, almost on-demand.” Though as the hows and whens and wheres of news consumption change, he believes the core of journalism remains the same. As Dunham himself wrote in his Multimedia Reporting textbook, “The constant is storytelling.”

 

How would he write his own profile’s kicker? “If I was a young person with a lot of digital skills and a lot of storytelling skills,” he said with a smile, “I think the future looks amazing.”

Faculty Q&A: Zhang Li

Zhang Li is an associate professor at the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication. She teaches the Intercultural Communication course in the Global Business Journalism program. Here are excerpts from a recent interview:

 

Q: What are the qualities Tsinghua has to offer to international students who wish to get a master’s degree in Global Business Journalism?

 

A: Students can learn knowledge and skills related to global financial news coverage and writing. At the same time, they can improve their Chinese language skills and strengthen their understanding of Tsinghua University and China.

Q: How is the multicultural experience beneficial to international and Chinese students?

 

A: Multicultural experience is very good for students, both international students and Chinese students. Students will become more tolerant and have a broader vision.

 

Q: Do you have any other thoughts about the GBJ program?

 

A: This project is a brand. If we want to do it well, the [high] quality of students needs to be guaranteed.

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