Mixing Teaching, Broadcasting, and Politics

schmitt shoots!!
Newhouse broadcast journalism professor Hubert "Hub" Brown enjoys the blend of teaching and research that his job provides him.

Hubert “Hub” Brown believes strong, effective teaching is the biggest contribution he can make to the field of broadcast journalism. So after working for more than a decade as a professional television reporter, producer, and anchor, Brown left his native Nebraska in 1996 to join the broadcast journalism faculty of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “I accepted the faculty position at Newhouse because the school has an outstanding reputation for blending teaching and research,” Brown says. “I wanted to surround myself with colleagues who are as enthusiastic as I am about teaching students to be good solid media practitioners.”
      Brown started “fooling around” with broadcasting as a hobby in high school. When an African American-owned radio station began broadcasting in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, he was impressed by the small station’s distinct local sound and the pivotal role it played in developing a sense of community. “I’d planned to major in political science and go to law school,” Brown says. “But by the time I was ready for college, I’d changed my major to broadcasting.”
      After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, Brown pursued his interest in Nebraska politics and public affairs as a political reporter and producer of a week-in-review TV series. He also produced public television documentaries on such critical issues as the community response to HIV/AIDS, and the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. Brown completed a master’s degree in journalism at Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993, and then taught in the university’s broadcasting department and hosted two educational series, Speaking With Confidence and Human Communication.
      Brown’s interest in politics and public affairs carries through to his teaching and research activities. He teaches television and radio reporting classes that cover political reporting, and he’s currently working with a group of Newhouse faculty members and students studying the role of the Internet in the 2000 presidential election (see related story). “We’re looking at this issue from every angle, examining the whole gamut of how and why people use the Internet to gather information and form opinions about presidential candidates,” he says. “We’re paying special attention to young people who are voting in the presidential election for the first time because we want to determine if the Internet influenced their decision-making.” Brown and his colleagues also are investigating the “digital divide” and how lack of access to the Internet by some segments of the population affects the political process. The research group will publish its findings in a book. “We’ll have to turn this project around fast because a much larger number of people will be hooked up to the Internet by the 2004 election,” he says.
      Brown is also conducting research for a television documentary and series of articles on the history and influence of African American-owned radio and television stations in the United States. His initial research shows that the number of minority owners of broadcasting stations in this country is declining due to the dramatic increase in ownership by large conglomerates. This trend toward consolidation—a direct result of the 1996 Communications Act’s deregulation of the broadcasting industry—is driving small local stations out of business because they can’t compete with the big national broadcasting chains. “The end of localism means an end to broadcasting diversity,” Brown says. “We’ll no longer have distinct community sounds providing music, news, and connections to African American communities. I want to take a step back, get people talking about this issue, and see how parts of this vital community asset can be preserved before it’s too late.”
      Although doing research and producing political documentaries are important to Brown, teaching remains his number-one priority. “At Newhouse I have the opportunity to combine my passion for teaching and my interest in research, politics, and broadcast journalism into an exciting academic career,” he says.
                                                                  —CHRISTINE YACKEL

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