“It’s not good when the journalist is the story,” says Michael Sheehy, the latest addition to the English Department.
“It’s not good when the journalist is the story,” says Michael Sheehy, the latest addition to the English Department. But what he’s referring to in this quote is his research specialty- the surge of mistrust of the media and the issues surrounding source confidentiality that can make journalists themselves the story.
Sheehy spent autumn quarter finishing his dissertation and preparing to teach Advanced Reporting and a journalism seminar. The dissertation is a study of unnamed sources and focuses specifically on The Washington Post
Though he chose the topic over a year and a half ago, he ended up with a very timely subject because of the Valerie Plame controversy. His peers in the department are fascinated with what Sheehy has to say.
Al Salvato, director of student media, says, “Michael brings decades of experience and also a taste of the future; his dissertation comes at a time when the issues of unnamed sources are at the forefront of journalism. He’s an authority, and I’m anxious for both the students and myself to hear what he has to say.”
Sheehy’s timing coming to McMicken College is also fortunate. The creation of the new journalism major provides an opportunity for him to take part in shaping the curriculum. He already has topics he would like to stress. While at Ohio University, he served as a Scripps Howard Teaching Fellow. Having held positions with publications such as The Journal-News
in Hamilton and The Logan Daily News
in Logan, Ohio, he is enthusiastic about helping new reporters learn what he found lacking when he was a reporter and editor. “I noticed a lot of young reporters don’t have a strong understanding of how local and state government works. I spent a lot of time coaching them,” he recalls.
Though he learned his way around courtrooms and government offices by himself, Sheehy hopes to better prepare his own students to cover government, public affairs, and politics and to spare them the troubles he encountered. His theory is that he can do so by having them cover governing bodies like city councils and school boards.
Having spent his whole life in Ohio, he has lived in Cincinnati previously. “I’m coming back to home territory,” he says. He and his wife, Cathy, their daughter, Gwen, and son, Grant, live in Lebanon. When he’s not working on his dissertation or tackling home repair projects, Sheehy enjoys collecting old newspapers about significant historic events.
He says he is excited to be in “such a dynamic atmosphere with a diverse student body that brings a lot to the classroom.” Once his dissertation is complete, he plans to contribute to the journalism field either by freelancing or doing academic research.
The journalism department is as thrilled to have him as he is to be here. Salvato observes, “Mike is part of the beginning of a new era of journalism at UC. He provides us with an ability to forge ahead in the field. It’s going to be fun to have him with us.”
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