Actually, as annoyed as I am with BT – 11 days without phone and broadband and counting – that’s far from the only reason I’ve been quiet. I’ve been to Berlin for NEXT Service Design, which took my focus away from here. I have a small and unpredictable baby who makes working from home an interesting challenge sometimes. (She’s giving my wife a hard time and pretty much refusing to sleep, even as I write this…) But equally, I’ve taken on a new part-time role that’s consuming a lot of my time as I get used to it.
At the beginning of this academic year, I started as a visiting lecturer on the journalism MA at City University. I’m online lab tutor for the Magazine and Financial journalism students, and running the community and social media module (part of the Interactive Journalism MA) with Judith Townend. I’m really enjoying it – but getting up to speed is taking me some time. (It’s also amusing my wife hugely; she’s a proper lecturer – in molecular biology – and is finding my baby steps into academia entertaining.)
The contretemps I had with Joanna Geary at Hacks/Hackers Brighton a couple of months ago actually helped me decide that this was the right thing to do. Underlying my challenge to her about a version of online community-oriented journalism history that began in 2008 was the loss of institutional knowledge that so many of our publishing companies have suffered in recent years, as the 2006-era online innovators get pushed out, and younger (cheaper?) people brought in instead. There’s a discontinuity, a lack of working overlap between the groups that means experiences are forgotten, lessons lost.
Well, teaching at a university, embedding those lessons into a new generation of journalists, is fun, and it helps solve the problem. What’s lost to one company, benefits many. That’s got to be good for journalism.