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Professor Davis Offers Hope and Inspiration to Baruch’s Journalism Students

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Photo: Franklyn Roa

Professor Bridgett Davis is more excited than ever to be teaching at Baruch College. The journalism and creative writing professor is drawing students to her creative writing workshops and dedicating herself to helping students obtain the skills they need to break into journalism during this challenging time. As Davis explains, “Everything is up in the air suddenly; this industry is reinventing itself. We don’t know what it’s going to become, but it’s not going to be what it was. It gives me and other journalism professors this new challenge, and it’s an exciting one because we’re all figuring this out together.”

Davis, who hails from Detroit, graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta and earned her MS in Journalism from Columbia University. She then went on to work as a journalist, writing for a number of publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, The Columbia Journalism Review and The Wall Street Journal. In 2007, she received the Excellence Award in Education by the New York Association of Black Journalists. Davis has also made a reputation for herself as a novelist and independent filmmaker. 2010 marked her 20th year as a teacher at Baruch College and she couldn’t be happier to still be teaching Baruch students. “I find that Baruch students are extremely intelligent and gifted, with stories to tell. And that’s the perfect combination,” says Davis.

Recently, Davis’s short story, Lagos, was published in the winter 2010 issue of Narrative Magazine, a well-known online literary magazine. The story is set in Lagos, Nigeria and stems from a novel Davis is finishing now.

The professor teaches a series of journalism and creative writing courses at Baruch College including a fiction writing workshop and screen writing workshop. The courses give students the skills they need to adapt and create story ideas to meet the demands of either fiction or film. “My students seem to really appreciate the dynamic in the class. I try to run it like a true workshop so that they feel like equals, like they’re bonding with people that they’re sharing something very personal with. I want students to feel a little transformed when they leave,” says Davis.

Last spring Davis also taught Journalistic Criticism, which educates students on the art of writing reviews for art, music, film and books. She incorporated restaurant reviews into the coursework as well to help diversify her teachings and provide a wider scale of writing prompts.

Davis believes journalism is heading in an exciting direction and that the profession is not necessarily suffering -- just changing. “The people’s ‘right to know’ will not go away; journalists are always going to be needed. The good news is that statistics show that young people are as interested or more interested in journalism and I am so encouraged by that. Whether you do it online or for print is one thing, but the impulse and the need and the role that it fulfills in society …  that’s going nowhere,” she says.  

Davis encourages today’s aspiring writers to find what interests them so that they can figure out their niche and write effectively. From there, the focus should be on getting published in the right outlets. She also believes that these days every young writer should participate in blogging. “If you’re figuring out your particular niche, discovering that distinctive voice with a blog is a great way to experiment,” she says. Davis has a blog herself, called Girl From Ethiopia: Life as an African American Woman with an Ethiopian Daughter. This spring she is looking forward to teaching a course on blogging; a class new to Baruch. “We add blogging to a lot of our journalism classes, but we haven’t done a course specifically dedicated to blogging yet. So I’m thrilled,” she says.

Of her position at the College, she says, “Could I have found a job better suited for my talent and interests? I don’t think so. I am convinced that these feelings translate in the classroom. That is the number one joy for me, that I’m teaching what I love.”

Johanna Marie Ferreira