UNC J-school Professor to Advise Duke Chronicle

Ryan Thornburg, associate professor at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will share his expertise with Duke for the 2013-14 academic year, as a mentor to the students of Duke’s independent student news organization, The Chronicle.  Thornburg will help guide The Chronicle’s transition to a digital-first news product. 

“Working with students who see real opportunity in the future of journalism and media generally is one of the greatest privileges of being a professor at UNC and now a visiting lecturer at Duke,” Thornburg said.

Thornburg will work in-house at The Chronicle, assisting with the launch of a year-long initiative to train a volunteer student staff and build the daily nonprofit news operation into a multimedia, interactive and on-demand service.  A key component of Thornburg’s position is to organize student training programs and workshops.

“During the critical first year of our transformation, we think having a professional journalist on site, particularly someone with expertise in the transition from a product that is primarily print to multiple products and services delivered in multiple digital formats, will help make our transition a success,” said Chronicle General Manager Chrissy Beck.

Thornburg’s appointment at Duke as a Visiting Lecturer in Digital Media will make him part of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy (DWC) at the Sanford School of Public Policy. 

Philip Bennett, Patterson Professor at Sanford and DWC director, said, “Ryan Thornburg has a strong record as a newsroom manager and a scholar in thinking creatively about journalism's new frontiers. His work with The Chronicle staff should help Duke and other universities understand better how to transform a highly successful student newsroom into a vital center for digital media.”

Thornburg will continue teaching at UNC during the nine-month appointment and use the experience at The Chronicle to further his research and publishing agenda.  

"Ryan is creating new knowledge through research and then bringing that knowledge to the marketplace,” said UNC School of Journalism Dean Susan King. “I'm pleased to be in this partnership with the Sanford School that can help extend our service to the state and the media industries." 

An appreciation for the educational mission of The Chronicle was important to the Chronicle’s staff and board, which helped raise the funding to support Thornburg’s service at Duke.  A committee of current student leaders, alumni, staff and board members of The Chronicle, as well as DWC faculty and staff, selected Thornburg from a national pool of more than 35 applicants. 

Thornburg has spent the last two years at UNC’s journalism school focused on a project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help North Carolina’s rural newspapers create new revenue and reporting opportunities from public data. He also serves on the board of UNC’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel.