Focus on Faculty
John F. Greenman
John F. Greenman, professor and the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism, is embracing entrepreneurship, innovation and experimentation to shape the future of the news media.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned a B.A. in American studies from Youngstown State University, a working-class school in northeast Ohio’s industrial belt. I earned an M.A. in media studies from Antioch University, which I attended while a Naval officer. More recently, I completed the advanced management program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. My time is divided between teaching and outreach. I teach conceptual and skills courses to undergraduate journalism students. I also direct a study abroad program in travel writing. My outreach focuses on two programs: The McGill Program in Journalistic Courage and CoveringPoverty.org, a tutorial site for journalists who cover poverty.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I joined the faculty in 2004 after retiring from Knight-Ridder, then one of the largest newspaper companies in the U.S., where I was an editor, publisher and corporate officer for two decades.
What are your favorite courses and why?
A current favorite is “Entrepreneurial Journalism.” Entrepreneurship is at the center of journalism’s new ecosystem. Many journalists voluntarily or involuntarily find themselves separated from journalism’s traditional institutions. Some of the best—including my students—are embracing entrepreneurship as an opportunity to innovate, to experiment with journalism—and perhaps to earn a living.
What interests you about your field?
Journalism isn’t a field. Rather, it borrows from disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. As a result, journalists and journalism teachers sample a rich lode of ideas and practices. With this come opportunities for consultation, collaboration—and lots of experimentation.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
My colleague Diane Murray and I expanded the McGill Lecture into a global program that focuses on journalistic courage. We added a fellows program, a symposium, a case-study research course and a medal—all in an effort to understand what journalistic courage means and how it is exemplified by reporters and editors. Also, I designed the study abroad program in travel writing to be inexpensive enough to attract students who otherwise are priced out of studying abroad.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I’m trying, through scholarship, teaching and practice, to elevate the standards of travel writing. The need for scholarship grew out of the first time I taught the travel writing study abroad program. None of the available texts embraced journalistic identity, purpose and method as I understood them. So, the dozen students I took to Cambodia that Maymester and I struggled with who we were, what we were trying to accomplish and what methods we would apply. Out of that experience came the motivation and seed idea for a book on travel journalism, published last summer.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope they think and act more critically as consumers and producers of journalism.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is one who regularly accomplishes more than the student expects is possible.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Observing and engaging with activist students in Tate Plaza.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Walk hand-in-hand many mornings with my wife, Alice.
“The Caine Mutiny.” I identify with Willie, a soft-belly college boy who joined the Navy with his father’s hope of becoming a man. “O Lucky Man!” is an indulgent allegory on the perils of capitalism that brings together several favorites: writer and actor Malcolm McDowell, director Lindsay Anderson and composer and keyboardist Alan Price.
Proudest moment at UGA?
Watching the introductory video at the 2004 orientation for new faculty. Faculty and student scholarship dominated; sports was secondary.