Q&A with Communications@Syracuse Alumna Kate Farrish

Kate Farrish graduated from Communications@Syracuse in May 2018 after a long career as a journalist and then journalism teacher. In August, she became an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut. We asked her some questions about going back to school to earn her master’s degree in midcareer.

What were your various responsibilities at the Hartford Courant over 26 years?

I was a reporter for about 13 years, including eight years covering higher education, which was my favorite beat because of the widely varied topics I got to cover on Connecticut’s college campuses. For the next 13 years, I was an editor supervising reporters in a suburban bureau, as the education editor and the city editor overseeing coverage of Hartford.

Which of your journalism skills felt rusty in 2016?

I left the Courant in 2009 and began teaching newswriting at the University of Connecticut that year. I was continuing to work as a freelance editor and writer, but as blogging, website production, social media and multimedia storytelling began to take off, I was feeling a bit left behind, skill-wise. As a traditional journalist, I was adept at reporting and writing, but was unsure of much of the new technology and new ways of telling stories on multiple platforms.

How did you think the journalism industry would reward you for earning your master’s?

I pursued the master’s degree to brush up on my multimedia storytelling but also to be eligible to apply for full-time journalism professorships. Without a master’s degree, I was not able to pursue those positions. So my interest was twofold: I wanted to update my skills as well as pursue my dream of teaching journalism full time on the college level.

How are you putting into practice what you learned at Newhouse?

One single course at Newhouse, the media law course with Professor Barbara Fought, Dean Emeritus David Rubin and Professor Glen Funkhouser, immediately increased my knowledge of media law, on topics such as copyright, privacy and libel. So my lessons on media law immediately became richer and more authoritative. This fall, I was promoted to adjunct professor of journalism at UConn, and I am putting my new knowledge of multimedia storytelling, media law, digital media and data journalism to work now in my Newswriting II class.

My students have to produce an in-depth issue story that will include photos, videos and data visualizations. Newhouse made me better prepared to assist and teach them those aspects of storytelling. On a side note, my Newhouse education has led to greater recognition for me as a journalist. An investigative story I did on nurses and addiction, which began as a project in Professor Greg Munno’s data journalism class at Newhouse, was published by the Connecticut Health Investigative Team. On Oct. 11, I was honored with the Publick Occurrences Award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for the story. That was very gratifying. 

What would you tell other midcareer journalists who are thinking about going back to school?

I would tell midcareer journalists thinking about going back to school to go for it because if I can do it, they can do it. I would say, though, that it was a lot of work and quite intellectually challenging, but enormously rewarding. It takes a real commitment to pursue such a challenging degree while balancing work and family responsibilities. It was worth it, though. 

Kate Farrish talks about her time at Communications@Syracuse.

Citation for this content: Communications@Syracuse, Syracuse University's online master's in communications.

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