Broadcast journalist Alison Burns has been appointed interim director of College Park Scholars’ Media, Self and Society program. She takes over from Kalyani Chadha, who will be on leave during the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 academic years. Burns’ appointment was made by the University of Maryland (UMD) Philip Merrill College of Journalism, which sponsors the Media, Self and Society Scholars program.
Burns boasts 25 years’ professional news experience, as well as a personal connection to UMD. After obtaining dual bachelor’s degrees from UMD in 1993—in journalism and in government and politics—she immediately went on to work as a reporter and anchor in a variety of local television markets. She relocated back to the Washington, DC, area in 1999, to serve as a Washington correspondent for the Cox Media Group.
Burns left full-time reporting in 2013 to pursue her interest in teaching journalism. “I wanted to share lessons learned from my experiences as a journalist and reporter in Washington,” she says. She started at Merrill College as an adjunct lecturer, teaching broadcast news writing and reporting.
Burns has since created and taught a fake news media literacy workshop; served in a Do Good faculty fellowship, where she led service-learning programs helping students improve community engagement; and started a doctoral program at Merrill College. She also continues to work as a freelance producer for the Cox Media Group’s Washington Bureau.
Media students will benefit
Now, the journalist will use her expansive media, teaching and service-learning experience to build upon Chadha’s work in the Media, Self and Society Scholars program.
“Dr. Chadha has done such a brilliant job of exposing students to some of the most critical issues our society is facing relating to media. I hope students continue to be inspired and interested in how media is affecting their lives, and hopefully using some theoretical approaches to make sense of it,” Burns observes.
“Kalyani Chadha leaves big shoes to fill, but we’re so pleased to welcome someone with Alison’s professional experience and research interests into the Scholars community,” says Marilee Lindemann, executive director of College Park Scholars. “Our Media students will benefit greatly from her insights into both fake news and the cultural biases affecting media coverage of communities of color.”
For her part, Burns says she’s also looking forward to being in a community of learners. “Most students I teach, I do keep in touch with after the course is finished. But I usually teach students for one semester, and then everyone goes their separate ways. It’s a new experience to be a part of this community where we can learn and grow together,” she says.