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Michelle Johnson Named NABJ Educator of the Year

COM prof teaches new and better ways to tell stories

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Michelle Johnson, associate professor, Boston University College of Communication COM, National Association of Black Journalists NABJ, Educator of the Year

“This has been my life’s work—my passion,” says Michelle Johnson, a COM associate professor. “To get this recognition reinforces my enthusiasm for the work that I do.” Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Michelle Johnson has a mantra for teaching students in her multimedia and online journalism courses: “Get out, do it, and try things that fail.”

Johnson, a College of Communication associate professor, who is known for encouraging students to find new ways to tell stories in the era of digital journalism, has been named 2013 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). She was presented with the award, “which honors innovation and commitment to teaching,” on August 3 at the 28th annual NABJ convention in Orlando, Fla.

Johnson says she was “really touched” to be chosen for the award. “This has been my life’s work—my passion,” she says. “To get this recognition reinforces my enthusiasm for the work that I do.” She says she is grateful for the resources and support from COM and from her department to explore cutting-edge tools for the future of journalism. “It’s also a lot of fun,” she adds. “It’s tough to get too jaded working around enthusiastic, energetic young people every day.”

“This award confirms what we already knew,” says William McKeen, a COM professor and journalism department chair. “Michelle is a great teacher, and we are blessed to have her in the classroom. On top of being a pro and knowing her stuff, she is a mentor to students after graduation. She is also, to those of us on the faculty, a generous and respected colleague. I’m so happy to see her getting this recognition.”

Prior to joining the BU faculty in 2009, Johnson was technology manager at Emerson College’s School of Communication. Her professional journalism career began as a copy editor with the Evening Press, in Binghamton, N.Y., followed by a stint at the Boston Globe, where she worked her way up from copy editor to copy desk supervisor. Johnson was one of 12 journalists awarded a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 1993 for journalistic entrepreneurship and innovation. In 1995 she was a member of the Globe team that launched the award-winning website boston.com. Her belief in a multimedia future for journalism has been evident throughout her career and her courses at BU.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. She previously was editor of the NABJ Journal, is a member of the Boston Association of Black Journalists, and was a founding national board member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a cofounder of its New England chapter. She is also a member of the Online News Association.

Emily Truax can be reached at truaxe@bu.edu.

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