Welcome to my Digital Neighborhood!
I believe we have a responsibility to be good neighbors and show neighborly expressions of care. Unlike Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of my childhood, today’s neighborhoods are digital, global, and mobile. We carry them in our pockets. The person we interact with everyday isn’t necessarily the person living next door. Our neighbors are the people we interact with on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat.
While some convincingly argue we need to turn off our devices, I’ve never been one to believe we can solve a problem by pretending its not there or ignoring it. For better or worse, social media and digital technologies are here to stay. I’ve dedicated my life to teaching with and about the media but I’m passionate about how we can work together — as a digital community – to make our digital neighborhoods kinder, safer, and more inclusive.
One of the ways we can do this is to create and share beautiful content. I believe digital storytelling is a revolutionary act! It is a miracle we have the ability to tell and share stories with a little device we carry with us. We are no longer limited by access to expensive production equipment.
My first video production experience occurred in high school as an intern for a cable television commercial. As an undergraduate student at Rutgers University, I volunteered as a makeup artist for the television station so I could be on-set and observe productions. During graduate school, I worked as an Assistant Producer for an instructional video series about customer service in higher education produced by the Office and Quality & Communication Improvement (now called the University Program for Organizational Quality and Communication Improvement).
During my doctoral studies at Rutger’s School of Communication, I developed a concept called media mindfulness. I argued learning how to produce content changed the way we viewed it. During this same time, I also worked as an Assistant Producer for a local cable access show, Fact Chicks. The program highlighted women in politics throughout the state of New Jersey.
My love of production and my interest in media literacy education led to my dissertation research. With the help of my dissertation advisor, Dr. Robert Kubey, and the generosity of Animaction , owner Clifford Cohen, I was able to integrate stop motion animation as a storytelling production process. I learned storytelling is not and should not be limited by expensive equipment. You can read the results of my dissertation here.
I share my love of storytelling and production with my students. As an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication, my work involves providing students hands-on production experiences in addition to teaching traditional media studies, communication and journalism courses. Everything I teach is rooted in the principles of media literacy education.
My more recent documentary projects include La Bella Vita: The Beautiful Life of Northern Italy and The Squeezebox Rocks: The Rise and Fall of the Accordion in American Popular Culture. La Bella Vita took three years to produce. La Bella Vita premiered at the International TRAVEL FilmFest in Greece, and was selected for screening at the yearly Hollywood International Documentary Festival held at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, CA. You can learn more about it including news coverage under the creative works tab.
The Squeeze Box Rocks: The Rise and Fall of the Accordion in American Popular Culture premiered at the 2018 Asbury Park Music & Film Festival. The documentary includes interviews with accordion players, the owner of the only remaining accordion store in New Jersey, as well as dynamic archival television footage including Lawrence Welk, Elvis Presley and “Weird Al” Yankovic. The documentary highlights the role of television and the impact of rock-n-roll on the gradual decline of the instruments popularity.
Currently, I am producing a documentary about sports talk radio fandom. First Time, Long Time: An Inside Look at Sports Talk Fandom provides an intimate look inside sports talk radio and highlights some of the best of NYC sports talk including both the hosts and the most well-known callers.
With mobile technologies readily available everyone has access to the tools. My hope is to encourage others to use the tools to make the world a better place. Remember we always have choice for how we use the media — as a tool or as a weapon.
I think we have a responsibility to build healthy digital neighborhoods and to tell the stories that speak to our hearts.