For Journalism professor Thomas Eveslage, being a faculty member has always been about teaching, not writing books or doing research.
This summer, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication recognized his dedication to teaching with its Journalism Educator of the Year award in the organization’s scholastic division.
“This division has always been concerned with teaching [journalism],” Eveslage said. “This award, coming from that division, is very meaningful for me.
A 23-year veteran of Temple University, Eveslage teaches the journalism department’s introductory course as well as both undergraduate and graduate courses in media law.
It takes a lot to keep up with the constantly shifting communication laws and regulations.
“Teaching law is really a lot of fun for me,” he said. “It keeps me fresh. The law changes so quickly that I have to change the class [every semester].”
Eveslage has long been active in the Student Press Law Center and the Pennsylvania School Press Association, two advocacy groups for high school and college journalists.
One of the “very disturbing” problems facing college papers, he said, is newspaper theft, a growing problem on campuses around the country, including a number of incidents at Temple in the past several years.
Administrators are not willing to punish newspaper thieves and students do not understand that stealing free newspapers is against the law because it deprives students of the paper and advertisers of their audience, he said.
Another issue facing college journalists is access to crime data. Although he said this is not an issue he is aware of at Temple (the university’s police provide crime data to The Temple News each week), at many schools, information on crimes is being hidden and shuffled to closed disciplinary hearings.
“Universities are shielding criminal activity for PR purposes,” he said.
At Temple, Eveslage has been involved in the Teaching Academy, a faculty committee that works on improving the quality of teaching at the university. The goal of the group is a teaching learning center with a full-time staff member, where faculty members can go for resources to aid in their instruction.
He said the academy also wants to raise awareness of the quality of teaching at the University.
“Temple does have good teachers,” he said. “I don’t think the University has given more than lip-service to the fact that we have great teachers.”
At the July award ceremony in Kansas City, Mo., Eveslage told the audience there is a lot of concern about preparing journalism students and getting “credentials” in order to get a job.
“If we aren’t good teachers, that will never happen.”
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com.