I’m leaving teaching & returning to reporting

December 6, 2011 · 56 comments

in Journalism how-to's

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The good news is that I just landed a full-time journalism job! As for the bad news: I have given up all of my teaching gigs. At least, for now…

I guess you want to hear about the job first. Early next year, Newsday, one of the country’s leading newspapers, is starting up a hyperlocal news website for Westchester County, N.Y. As with all things hyperlocal, there will no printed page for readers. Welcome to the world of digital journalism, where your daily fix will originate online rather than on paper.

A team is being assembled for this new website and I’m one of the lucky new reporters. Since I live in Westchester County, I look forward to covering the home turf while working mostly from home. I’m also thrilled and grateful to find a cutting-edge, full-time journalism job, especially in this economy. By the way, did I mention that my daughter’s getting ready for college — and that I’m getting ready to pay tuition bills? Haha.

Speaking of college, I am so, so sad about saying goodbye to my teaching gigs. From the time I was a teenager, my dream was to teach. During the past seven years, I’ve had the privilege of being in classrooms at five different universities in various departments and programs. They were all part-time jobs; there were crazy moments when I was running between as many as four campuses in a single semester.

But what intoxicating variety. I loved the challenge of adapting to each school’s culture and meeting such a wide range of students. They varied in age from 14 to 70. They came to me from all over the world. My adult students worked in more professionals than I can name. Everyone opened me up to new ideas that I otherwise never would’ve considered.

That’s the real thrill of teaching — I was always learning. So if you’re a former student and you’re reading this now, I want to thank you for trusting me with your life and your stories. I count you among the best teachers I’ve ever had. Once I figure out my work schedule, I’d love to get back in the classroom for the occasional night class.

Until then, I’m looking ahead to a 2012 filled with insane changes…

Imagine, I’m 55 and haven’t had a full-time journalism job in 16 years. Then again, I’ve been blogging, tweeting and endlessly foraging online. Who knew that these explorations would help get me back in the game?

So now I’m ready to find my “mo jo” — mobile journalism. That’s the buzzword for today’s on-the-go, 21st century approach to reporting. Forget about the olden days of racing back to the newsroom to file a story. Instead, try an image of reporters out there on the scene, tapping their articles into their iPads while uploading video and photos shot on their iPhones.

Even though I’m kinda nervous, I feel prepared to work my ancient butt off. I hope you’ll stick around for the adventure. No doubt, these new experiences will lead to some interesting blog posts. I will share whatever I learn to keep a virtual classroom going. And if you have story ideas for me, please get in touch! Together, we can find a collective mojo.   xo.

P.S. — If you want more details on the hyperlocal, here’s a copy of the memo that was sent to Newsday staffers yesterday.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

bigWOWO December 6, 2011 at 2:30 am

Congrats on your new job, Betty! It’s a sad day for your students, but I have a feeling this new job is going to be great!

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Sree December 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

Betty: Congrats! Your students’ loss is your readers’ gain. Am sure you’ll be able to teach again in the future. All good wishes. Thanks for sharing so well.

cheers, sree

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Kellie Brooks December 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

Yowza, Betty! Congratulations! What a major decision…I wonder if it was a no-brainer, or if you weighed it out? 2012 is bringing changes for everyone I know and clearly, you are no exception. I see this as just another opportunity for you to learn something, and then eventually share that wisdom, as you do already, so generously.
There’s a chance I may be working in Westchester, on a part time basis, so I’ll keep my ear to the ground – and will certainly tune into Newsday online to follow you! Best of luck!

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 7:30 am

what are you all doing up so early??! :)

bigwowo, thanks — i’m feeling less sad this morning. thankfully, the internet offers countless ways to stay in touch with former students…and to find new ways to teach/learn.

and sree, i’m sure you’re right that my blog is going to get stronger. being an old lady in the new world will be a trip. i also must thank you for everything you taught me about social media. you are the master and your columbia j-school continuing education workshop offerings are a godsend to us all.

kellie, we need to talk. anyone & everyone with a westchester link is now a potential source. as soon as the semester ends next week, i will be getting reorganized. which reminds me…i must start reading aol.com’s patch website. even though its resources are limited, a neighbor told me yesterday that she considers it my top competition for her attention.

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Andrea December 6, 2011 at 7:34 am

Congratulations, Betty! You are such a force of inspiration! Thank you for your teaching. You are one of the best teachers I have ever had. Thanks to you, I found my way back into the writing game… in a foreign language for me, nonetheless. So, cheers to you – and hope to see you soon in Westchester. I can so imagine you dashing around the county, poking your nose into the city’s backyard for a lead… wildly tapping away at your iPad ;-)

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mary December 6, 2011 at 7:36 am

Betty,

I am thrilled for you on a personal level. You have become a digital guru, sharing your skills with both students and faculty alike. I am not surprised that Newsday spotted a great hire, with both new media skills and the talents and tenacity of a long-time journalist.

That said, we will miss you terribly at NYU Journalism. You were one of the best adjuncts we’ve ever had here as evidenced by winning a university “Great teaching” award a few years ago. Your students were always among the best prepared when they came into the next level course that I teach. You compiled a treasure trove of teaching tips over the years and were always more than willing to share them at both our adjunct meetings and one-on-one with other profs.

My best wishes for the new job. Excelsior!

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 7:48 am

oh, now you guys are going to make me cry…

andrea, i’ll never forget the first day you showed up in my new school classroom with your big, worried eyes. now look at you — you’re a communications pro and a social media expert running a major website!

and mary, thank you for being my wonderful boss, mentor & friend. back in 2004, nyu became my 1st teaching gig because you took a chance on me. when i walked into your office, i was a scared, single mom coping with divorce. i had ZERO teaching experience — and hadn’t worked in journalism for nearly 10 years! but you told me you had a good feeling about me. then you showed me what a syllabus looked like. with nyu on my resume, i had the street cred to chase the other gigs. thanks for believing in me!

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Rose T. Ellis December 6, 2011 at 7:49 am

What an inspiration you are Betty, in so many ways! THANK YOU for having the courage to pursue your passions, and in turn, inspiring this 55 year old to continue doing the same. I look forward to upcoming chapters!

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Laura Madden December 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

Wow, Betty — congrats! Can’t wait to see your new online presence. Is this what you had in mind when you started the blog? Like, was this your vision?

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

rose, we’re 55 but we’re not old! young is really a state of mind. the other day, i had lunch with a 70-something friend who runs a very successful garden design business. she’s says that the older she gets, the more she has to keep changing — just the opposite of conventional wisdom.

and laura, good question. i started blogging three years ago at the suggestion of my former new york daily news boss, jim willse. at the time, he was running the newark star-ledger & i wanted to be a columnist for him. he said that the thing to do was carve out a niche for myself online first — develop a brand + traffic. once i did that, there was no limit to my future.

so yes, i initially blogged in hopes of becoming journalistically relevant. but then, the blog took on a life of its own. and that’s another blog post for another day!

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toby December 6, 2011 at 8:00 am

Betty: I would really like to sincerely congratulate you on landing this journalism position – I really, really would – because I’m personally happy for your happiness – I’d like to….but I can not. I know what a superb teacher you are – I know what a profound effect you had on Billy and what an inspiration you have been to him and your other students and as someone who myself spent 30 years in the classroom, I mourn the loss of a gift such as yours to the profession. I know you must do what you must do and life as academic day-labor (adjunct faculty) is no picnic – nor does it pay a living wage. These considerations must in the end trump all else. However I can not feel other than sad that this is so and more than anything, I consider it a condemnation of our system of higher education that you have been, at least for now, lost to it.

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

toby, you’re going to make me cry some more! and you hit on the financial reality of adjuncting. so, it’s back to work — and i’m very, very lucky to have found an exciting job opportunity. but thank you for your comment because you are reminding me that someday, i need to get back to the classroom. it has my heart & it always will.

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Jill December 6, 2011 at 8:10 am

Best luck there, Betty!!! Good for you!!! My hometown newspaper always & first employer, always deep in my heart. Look forward to all the latest here on the blog!

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Paul December 6, 2011 at 8:15 am

That’s exciting news Betty. Congrats….you’ll be great at it!

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Erika Siobahn Kenny December 6, 2011 at 8:17 am

YAY BETTY!!! Congratulations! And don’t worry- even if you’re not in a classroom, you’re still teaching by example and with your blog. You’re such an inspiration to so many people, what you teach with what you say and do is a most valuable lesson =’)

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 8:45 am

jill, this is my first time working for newsday. so i’m interesting in seeing what that’s all about. thanks for the good wishes.

and paul, your vote of confidence means a lot because you’re such a reporting pro!

erika, thank you! and thank you for finding my blog. your subscription & comments mean so much to me. i love connecting with folks like you who i’ve never met in “real” life but then again, this IS 21st century real life. :)

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jaimie December 6, 2011 at 9:29 am

congrats, betty!!! you are an awesome teacher & mentor & general encourager & your students (i among them) have been lucky to have been graced with your generosity & graciousness & excitement for these last years. but now you can teach by example — not only through your sharp-eyed writing but also by showing that it’s never to late to get back in the game or to start a new game. here’s wishing all the great good luck (which talented you won’t need!) in this auspicious new adventure!!!
love & blessings,
jaimie

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Athena December 6, 2011 at 9:37 am

Congratulations Betty! Good luck with your job at Newsday!

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Ivan December 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

Betty,
Your seven years of service has created a whole new generation of journalists that are eager to tackle the world one nut graph at a time. No other instructor has strengthened my interest in the field despite all of the recent turmoil the industry has suffered over the years. I’m sure you’ll bring that energy and excitement to your new team and show off your tech skills.

I’m glad too that you learned a few things from us green, college kids back in the day. 8) At the very least you now have a better appreciation for Halloween! Congrats again Betty.

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Daniel Krieger December 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

What awesome news, Betty! I’m excited for you! Looking forward to hearing about it.

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Ji Hyun Park December 6, 2011 at 11:24 am

This is so great to hear. Congratulations! I’m so excited for what this job has in store for you, and I can’t wait to read your work. I still remember our little chat in class on how we were brought up by our parents. You were the first teacher to connect with me on that level, and I felt so encouraged afterwards to know that I could talk to you. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being a wonderful role model and a mentor I couldn’t bear to lose.

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Jenni Stone December 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

Thank you for all the inspiration and insight – you are a great teacher and made it safe to share the stories – and it does not stop just because the venue is no longer the classroom – good luck and look forward to reading you on-line…

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Isha December 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Congrats Betty! How amazing. I’m lucky I took your class before you returned to the world of news… you were one of my best professors, and I’m so happy that you have this new opportunity. You deserve it!

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm

jaime, ivan, ji hyun, jenni, isha — i am so glad that you each stayed in touch with me after our various classes together. you’ve kept me growing in a million ways. i’ve learned so much from you.

jaime, to this day, you still inspire me in all matters yoga and vegan.

ivan, you’re my go-to comics and tech guy.

ji hyun, you know more about cheap eats than anyone in my circle!

jenni, your personal essays took guts to write.

isha, it’s been a pleasure to watch you on your journey.

and athena, thanks for joining us on the blog. i look forward to getting acquainted!

ok. now i’m gonna to teach my st. john’s class and torture them for a few hours. see you later. xo.

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Katherine December 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Betty, Congrats on your new adventure! You will always be a teacher (whether in a classroom or not!) Best of luck! You’re gonna rock it :-)

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Vivien December 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Betty – congratulations… this is so exciting! (Scary, too, like most major life-changes… but awesome!) Let’s not forget that good teaching and good journalism are intertwined. Both rely upon excellent communication, knowing your audience, creating engagement, stripping away b.s. to lay bare the essential facts, making a difference, helping to give others a voice. I – and so many others – look forward to learning from you for a long, long time!

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Miranda Walker December 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Hi Betty!!!

I just read your blog! Awesome for you…how does it feel to get back to the swing of ‘former’ things?!

I wish you the best :)

Miranda

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alex galkin December 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Betty! Congrats on the new gig! The nyu journalism dept is taking a big loss on this one. Hope you return to teaching one day. Good luck :)

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Kenya` December 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm

AWESOME! Going back to your roots … You’re the BOMB Betty!!! I know you’ll do a Fantastic job and I’ll be reading. All the very best!

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

katherine, tx for the encouragement. and tx too, viv and kenya! and thanks for all the ways that you each keep me going. :) xoxox

miranda, i need your good wishes because i feel like an old fossil that’s suddenly come alive to chase 21st century journalism. reminds me of that movie, “a night at the museum.” :)

and alex, thanks to you too! aren’t you the student who told me that i was a “good asian mommy?” ha. xox.

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Ivan December 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

BTW, good graphics with this post!

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Jessica Siegel December 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Yeah, Betty! That’s fabulous! Finding a journalism job in this economy is a reason to celebrate. And they picked the right person! You’re out there and doing it using the new technology.

You can go back to teaching later…with more knowledge and knowhow.

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm

thanks, ivan! maybe i should do a post with a video on picnik. it offers great graphics for very little effort. i pulled together that cute little photo collage in a matter of minutes. fun to do too. http://www.picnik.com/

yes, jessica, i want to come back to the classroom. that’s why i’m trying not to act too depressed about leaving. i know someone who left and came back and he said that when he returned, he was different. he also taught differently the second time around — and enjoyed it more. something to look forward to. :)

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Alyson B. Stanfield December 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Wow! This is huge! The paper (do we call a paperless rag the paper?) is lucky to have you. I look forward to following along.

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Pat Winters Lauro December 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Betty,
First, I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since we were in the newsroom together. That means it’s probably been a dozen years since our shopping excursions to Target for the girls. Your gig sounds like a wonderful, new adventure, and I know you will succeed — as you always do. I hope you’ll still come visit my classroom. My students loved you. Will email you their remarks. xxoo

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Mary Anne Davis December 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Way to go! Congrats and me too, look forward to following your beat.

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Erika Siobahn Kenny December 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm

You’re quite welcome =°] Thank YOU for sharing so much with is all!

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Helen Shabason December 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You rock, babe!!! Newsday’s so lucky to have you. It’s going to be great. And I’m confident you’ll find the time at some point to get back to the classroom. And then those students are going to be so happy! xoxo

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

alyson, you’re so cute. no it’s not a paper anymore. it’s called a hyperlocal website. this means you’re getting very specific local news. hyperlocal is even beyond superlocal. :)

pat, in the past 16 years, we’ve gone from being rookie journos to professional newspaperwomen to profs to mommies! can’t wait to hear what your students thought of me. and yes, i would be honored to visit any time. thanks too, for the vote of confidence on my reporting skills!

mary anne and erika, thanks for staying in touch. i truly value your support. :)

aw helen…i think you’re right. there’s gotta be a nighttime teaching gig in my future.

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Penny December 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

A huge congrats to you Ms. Betty! Way to (almost) end and (almost) begin the old and new year, :) Wishing you the best in getting back to your roots in journalism but approaching and practicing it in a whole new way.

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Leslie December 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Wow, Betty. Great opportunity for you. So nice to hear some good news for a change, about anyone who is a journalist getting a “new” job. Maybe there is still hope for some of us other “experienced” a.k.a. over 50 journalists!

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denise mcfarlane December 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Congrats on the job Betty! Sounds like a great opportunity. Best of luck to you.

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betty ming liu December 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm

penny and denise, thanks so much for the good wishes. :)

and leslie, yes, there is hope for older journalists. but the key is going digital. the online skills are what got me this job. it’s not just about having the skills but embracing the online world. you can do it!

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June December 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Betty, congratulations!!! I am so happy for you.

Now go out and give us some good stories!!

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Shirley Bubbles December 7, 2011 at 1:23 am

Hi! Betty, Congratulations to your new chapter! You go girl! ^^

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Robert Iodice December 7, 2011 at 1:25 am

Betty, I am so happy for you first of all. Secondly, I just want to say it was a pleasure and a privelege to have you as a professor this semester. I really learned a lot and can honestly say it was my favorite class of college so far. You know I’m not just saying that because you gave me my grade today ;). Best of luck. I wish you all the success in the world!

Robert Iodice

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Robert Iodice December 7, 2011 at 1:26 am

privilege*

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betty ming liu December 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

yeah, june — the pressure is on. i’ve gotta find some good stories. let me know if you have ideas. haha!

and thanks, shirley. it is indeed a new chapter. i’m excited. :)

bobby — i’m so honored to be your favorite class! thank you for the great energy you brought to our course this semester. we did have a lot of fun, didn’t we?! ;)

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Laura Madden December 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm
Dora December 8, 2011 at 9:32 am

Congratulations Betty! Didn’t you know 55 is the new 30? Good luck with the new adventure!

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Mary D'Ambrosio December 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Big, big congratulations, to a valued friend and colleague! Don’t worry — being in the middle of stories again will shave off 10 years.

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betty ming liu December 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

aw, thanks, dora and mary! if i’m going out there work side-by-side with the young’uns, i had better be feeling like 30 or 40. ha.

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Taylor R. December 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

congratulations!! This is going to be a great new adventure and I looking forward to hearing all about it!

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betty ming liu December 14, 2011 at 8:12 am

thanks, ms. t! you can bet that i’ll be blogging about getting back in the field. i can already tell that it’s gonna be a different kind of experience. the world has changed so much. :)

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Sheila Bernson January 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi Betty: What great news! I am very thrilled and happy for you. Your fan, Sheila

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