Prairie Portrait: Chris Snider of Drake University
Name: Chris Snider
Bio: Chris teaches multimedia journalism, web design, visual communication and social media at Drake University in Des Moines. He previously worked as the digital editor at the Des Moines Register and editor of Juice magazine.
Title: Instructor of Practice in Multimedia
Residence: Des Moines, Iowa
Intro music: "Warm It Up" by Kriss Kross
Silicon Prairie News: What one development over the last five years has most changed the way you teach journalism?
Chris Snider: The amount of new tools out there. We could spend all day just teaching the tools and never get through them all, so that has forced me to focus more on the concepts that make good journalism or good design and less on the actual tools. When I was in college, we knew we would graduate and then go use Quark and Photoshop as designers. Now, who knows what programs these students will use in 2-4 years?
SPN: Knowing the exact answer to his question would make you a very wealthy man, but … what are some general trends in news media you expect to see unfold over the next 5-10 years?
CS: We will see more and more print newspapers go away as readers age and the papers start to understand how to make a profit from digital content. And because of this switch from print to digital, we'll see websites become more niche and more focused on areas that matter most to their readers. If I'm going to pay for a local website, I want all of their resources going to covering my local community and helping me be a more informed citizen.
SPN: Pursuing your MBA while teaching classes, what insights does being a student give you that help you as a teacher? How about vice versa?
CS: I'm currently taking a Creativity for Business class with Timothy Johnson, and I'm able to integrate a lot of the creative ideas he introduces into my classes right away. That class has really taught me that we need to help college students unleash that creativity that has mostly been educated out of them.
SPN: You and your students were responsible for the list that helped Des Moines earn a foursquare badge. If you were assigned to compile the same sort of list for the city in which you attended college, Iowa City, what are five spots that would be shoo-ins for the list, and why?
CS: 1. The Iowa City Vine - best wings in town
2. The Airliner - I minored in Flip Night in college
3. Kinnick Stadium - nothing beats Iowa City on a fall Saturday
4. The Daily Iowan - this pretty much WAS my college education
5. Pedestrian Mall - great people watching, and there might be a bar or 40 nearby
SPN: As a former employee at the Baltimore Sun, which once also employed the creator of 'The Wire' and was the focus of one of the show's seasons, what's your take on the series in general and its portrayal of The Sun in particular?
CS: Greatest TV show ever. I'm proud to say that one of my good friends from my Baltimore days, Bill Zorzi, was a writer for The Wire. It was a little weird to watch when I know which actual people characters were based off of, but The Wire really captured the shift that occurred at newspapers when suddenly making money was priority number one.
Credits: Photo courtesy of Snider.
Prairie Portraits: To learn more about this series, see our introduction post, or visit our archives for past Prairie Portraits. To suggest an individual for a future Prairie Portrait, contact email@example.com.