A thing or two about me

“Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

— Red Smith, American sportswriter (1905-1982)

I love words. I love finding them hidden in a Boggle cube, hunting for their connotations in the dictionary, listening to them spoken on This American Life. But, most of all, I love writing them. I have a passion for telling true stories — particularly stories that have gone untold for too long. I also love to ask people nosy questions. No wonder I’m a journalist.

These days, I spend much of my time teaching other people to write and to ask nosy questions. As professor and chair of the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University, I help train the next generation of journalists and media professionals. I teach Newswriting, Reporting, News Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Online Journalism, The Contemporary Magazine, Magazine Writing and Magazine Editing.

I’m the editor of The Diversity Style Guide, a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority and sensitivity. The companion book, also called The Diversity Style Guide, was published by Wiley in 2019, and features chapters on covering race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexuality and sensitive topics, such as suicide, mental health and immigration. I work with media organizations to help them understand the power of words, how language can alienate sources and audiences or make them feel heard and understood.

I am also the author of The Student Newspaper Survival Guide, the leading guide to putting out a college newspaper. And I’m a past president of College Media Association, the voice of collegiate media and the advisers, station managers, business managers, ad directors, faculty and other professionals who work with college newspapers, magazines, and websites, as well as TV and radio stations.

I love to explore the winding alleyways and bustling markets of foreign cities and to learn about how journalism is done there. I have taught international reporting in Cagli, Italy (2007) and directed summer study-abroad programs in Jerusalem (2013); Perpignan, France (2010 and 2011);  Urbino, Italy (2009) with the Institute for Education in International Media (ieiMedia)In 2019, I worked as a Fulbright Specialist assigned to Royal Thimphu College in Bhutan, where I taught in the new mass communication B.A. program and trained and mentored faculty.

I started my career as a newspaper reporter and then moved into writing for magazines and websites, mostly about health and medicine and more recently about journalism education. You may have read my work in San Francisco Magazine,  U.S. News and World Report, PBS MediaShift, Prevention, TIME, Health, Organic Style, People, Reader’s Digest, or on MSNBC.com or CNN.com. You can find out more by reading my bio.