NPR's Matt Thompson Teaching New Media Entrepreneurs
The School of Communication’s newest incoming adjunct instructor, Matt Thompson, learned media technology on the fly. Hired as the first online reporter/producer for The Fresno Bee in 2004, Thompson drove cross country with his parents in a U-Haul truck armed with a copy of O’Reilly Media’s Flash coding manual Essential ActionScript 2.0, determined to be ahead of the digital curve upon his arrival in California.
Thompson says he didn't expect to use the theoretical coding knowledge he’d gleaned right away. But, once there, he learned his team had five days to complete a sophisticated multimedia project on the anniversary of a Fresno landmark.
With limited background, Thompson was required to jump in headfirst and produce fast. “I had to learn a lot of tricks. That project illustrates how much my career has been hand-in-hand with education,” he says. “I feel like I’ve never left.”
Not only did Thompson pull it off (and won a “Best of the West” award to boot), he’s gone on to master all types of media concepts, and build on them as an emerging thought leader in the industry. Welcome to the new digital media landscape.
Thompson has been helping to define that landscape for a long time. He is a sought-after speaker and collaborator. These days, he’s Manager of Digital Initiatives (and Mischief) at NPR. There, he works on a variety of digital and broadcast initiatives, such as launching a team to cover race, ethnicity and culture for NPR. Previously at NPR, Thompson developed 12 niche, local websites in conjunction with NPR member stations.
After years of developing cutting-edge digital media content for newspapers and serving on the National Advisory Board at the Poynter Institute, Thompson also currently sits on the board of directors at the Center for Public Integrity.
Thompson was recruited to teach at SOC for his deep knowledge, adventurous initiative and for his success at teaching and coaching learners on managing new media’s ever-changing face. In the summer of 2013, Thompson will teach Media Technology Management for students in the new Master’s in Media Entrepreneurship program. His course covers what a media technology project should look and feel like, beginning to end. Thompson says his course asks the questions, “How do you set up technology at startup? And, how do you manage a dynamic project, for a variety of stakeholders within a short time frame? There’s a lot to manage to get it off the ground.”
Thompson is a perfect fit for MAME’s crop of new media entrepreneurs. By helping the newest group of digital dreamers map new horizons, information becomes clearer and more interactive. “The only constant,” Thompson notes, “is learning.”