Journalists aim to become “instant experts,” Sweeney told the assembled crowd at the early morning gathering. Journalists use the interview as the primary information-gathering tool. Such interviews are constrained by multiple factors, including culture, politics, religion and education. Journalists aim to expand knowledge in new directions. Journalists publish their “findings” and receive feedback.
Sweeney, who is a professor of journalism at Utah State University and department head for Journalism and Communication, approached the task of collaborating on the memoir God Grew Tired of Us as a journalist. The book, written with John Bul Dau, was published by National Geographic in 2007. A popular documentary of the same title chronicling the story of Dau, a Lost Boy of Sudan, was also released in the spring 2007, having won top honors at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Sweeney was approached by National Geographic for the project, and following what he called an “audition interview” with Dau, he received the assignment. He completed extensive research before traveling to Syracuse, N.Y., for a 10-day marathon of interviews.
Former department head of Journalism and Communication Department
Sweeney, department head of Journalism and Communication, knew he wanted to be a journalist when he was 14 and employed as a newspaper delivery boy. He pursued degrees in journalism and communication, and upon graduation held several positions at a number of newspapers. However, as soon as he began teaching classes at Tarrant County Junior College and Texas Christian University as an adjunct instructor, he knew teaching college was what he loved.
“Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate,” said Sweeney. “You should get out of bed in the morning saying, ‘I can’t wait to go to work.’ I like newspaper work. I love teaching. Simple as that.”
Sweeney came to Utah State in 1996 after receiving his doctorate in communication at Ohio University. He said he appreciates the supportive atmosphere and the hardworking students at Utah State.
“This university values and supports good teaching, as well as important research,” said Sweeney. “My students are bright and eager, and they work their fannies off.”
Event time and place
October 5, 2007 Little America Hotel500 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84101