Political reporter, columnist, author and editor Howard Fineman is coming to Penn this fall to teach a three-class mini-course at the Kelly Writers House and deliver three lectures at the Annenberg School for Communication about how technology is changing political reporting.
The Writers House sessions will focus on American politics in fictional and non-fictional literature, analyzing news coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign and examining the coverage of the 2010 midterm elections. The Annenberg lectures, which will be given in tandem to the mini-course, will examine the way blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other online innovations have changed both politics and journalism.
"One of the most basic structural problems with the curriculum is the idea of the semester,” says Al Filreis, Kelly Professor of English and one of the founders of the Writers House. “It often prevents us from engaging brilliant people in the extended Penn community who would be great teachers and mentors of our students but, because they are geographically far-flung and in the world of everyday practice, a semester-long course is impossible. So, I'm thrilled that through the Writers House we can create mini-courses and that someone like Howard Fineman can actually teach our students, despite his otherwise crazy schedule."
Fineman, who for the past 30 years has worked as a columnist, senior editor and senior Washington correspondent at Newsweek, recently announced that he is leaving the print publication to join The Huffington Post online newspaper as senior political editor.
Fineman was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the move was not a difficult decision for him, despite his many years as a print journalist. “The chance to dive headlong into the future is one that I don’t think anyone could pass up,” he said.
Fineman, who will continue his work as a political analyst for MSNBC, contends that the expanding landscape of digital journalism is a healthy development for American democracy. But, he argues, it is becoming more difficult to find online writing that inspires, moves or instructs with the kind of polish and craftsmanship that will endure the test of time.
Originally published on September 23, 2010