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Call him ‘Professor News’
Paul Janensch, associate professor in the School of Communications, signed a contract with The Hartford Courant last March to be the newspaper’s weekly columnist for the Life section.
Before signing with The Courant, Janensch wrote columns for The Connecticut Post, a daily newspaper in Bridgeport for three years. Janensch said he was happy to make the switch to The Courant, and The Post understood as well.
His “Professor News” column, which was named by The Courant, runs every Thursday in the Life section, and can also be found on The Courant’s web site, www.ctnow.com.
After two or three hours of writing and polishing his piece, Janensch sends his column via e-mail every Wednesday morning to meet The Courant’s deadline. With a click of the send button, Janensch’s column is finished, which means he will begin brainstorming ideas for next Thursday’s issue.
“I couldn’t do it without the web,” said Janensch about using the Internet to find the news. “The Internet allows me to keep up on national issues, rather than local issues.”
At the beginning of each week, Janensch also spends two or three hours on the Internet visiting national web sites, such as MSNBC and foreign web sites, like the BBC, looking for interesting news issues.
“I try to give people information,” said Janensch regarding his purpose for writing columns. “I praise things, I condemn things and I tell people things they didn’t know.”
Janensch said his column is based on the current news of the week, but he does change his topic if something comes up. The breaking news on the Colombia Shuttle that crashed in Texas on Feb. 1 allowed Janensch to change his plan, and he wrote the column titled, “Coverage Of Shuttle Disaster Was Terrific, Though Not Perfect” for the Feb. 6 issue in The Courant.
Leaning back, chatting in his office chair, Janensch said he receives the biggest reaction from people about his columns involving the journalism business.
“People are interested in the news business,” said Janensch, with an excited voice. “They want to know how it works.”
Two columns Janensch has previously written, one on the Catholic Church and another on the boss of the Fox News Channel, have provoked a wide array of responses. Janensch found some responses to be coherent and logical, while others were insulting and wacky. Most were in disagreement with Janensch, although he was prepared for that.
“I always respond to my column reactions,” said Janensch. “If I think they have a good point, or if I think they sound raving, I write ‘thanks for the feedback.'”
Some of Janensch’s columns have appeared in major daily newspapers around the nation through The Tribune Company, the owner of The Courant and other daily newspapers, such as the L.A. Times and Newsday.
“I’m pleased if [the column] runs in another newspaper,” said Janensch.
A column Janensch wrote for this year’s Super Bowl was published in the Palm Beach Post, a daily newspaper in Florida.
Coincidentally, Quinnipiac University’s President John Lahey was visiting Florida during the Super Bowl weekend. He picked up the newspaper and flipped to Janensch’s column, without previously knowing it would be there.
President Lahey was thrilled to see one of Quinnipiac’s professors in the newspaper, so he decided to call Janensch and congratulate him.
As a news professional for 30 years, Janensch has high writing expectations. He asks the question, “Have I met my own standards?” after each column he submits.
“I’m careful to practice what I preach,” said Janensch, “because I know some [Quinnipiac] students will read it.”
Currently, Janensch is interested in the news about the war on Iraq, and he has begun brainstorming some possible news topics for this week’s column.
He may form a logical position and write on the opposing arguments about the war on Iraq, Democrats being a loyal opposition for the war, how the media is getting ready for the war, or how journalists will cover the war.
To read on the topic Janensch picked, go to the Life section of the Courant and look for the Feb. 20 issue.
Besides writing columns, Janensch writes and submits a weekly radio commentary to the five stations of WNPR Connecticut Public Radio, which runs every Friday at 8:35 a.m. He also does a live radio interview for WTIC, 1080 AM, which airs on Wednesdays from 9:05 a.m. to 9:20 a.m.
After many years in the journalism business, Janensch still has a love for writing.
“I love to observe and witness things, and then tell people about them through writing,” he said.