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Michael Scully

Assistant Professor of Communications
Digital Journalism
Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences


In the words of Michael Scully, “a seamless, interactive communications platform that can be customized based on the digital profiles people create for themselves.” The integration of text, audio and video in real time, it speaks to a person’s interests and future interests. And it’s becoming an increasingly critical component of access to the Internet – “every human’s right,” Scully says.

When Scully starts talking about transmedia and the direction of the digital journalism program at RWU, he’s incapable of containing his energy. His face animated, he gestures and points, occasionally spreading his arms wide as if trying to capture the excitement of being at the forefront of this contemporary media transformation. Based on the traditional journalistic values – ethics, accountability and access – digital journalism makes those values immediate. And immediately available to be scrutinized – and criticized – by anyone, anywhere, with a computer, PDA or cell phone.

How, exactly, does he communicate this concept to 20-year-old undergrads? By requiring students to publish their assignments online. Not just to YouTube, where you can hide your identity, but to personal Facebook pages, where their coursework becomes public, where friends and friends of friends in this social network will see it – will question, comment, poke holes in it.

“Every journalist learns with their first byline,” Scully says, “if their work is good or poor. The audience doesn’t stay silent.” And in this new digital world, that silence can be broken within seconds. Students in Scully’s Digital Journalism I and II classes work in teams, collaborating online to storyboard, script, produce and edit at least five 3-minute videos based on an overarching theme determined at the beginning of the semester. Everything – everything – is published online. The proof is in the body of work produced.

With a new home in Global Heritage Hall and rising enrollments in the Communications program, Scully tells prospective students that it’s a great time to be studying the discipline at RWU. Key to innovation in teaching these new techniques has been the tools and flexibility provided by the University administration, he says: “They may not always understand me, but they’re willing to let me experiment. And they trust me to do it right.”


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