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John Carvalho

Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Journalism
College of Liberal Arts

John Carvalho, associate professor of journalism, returned to Auburn in 2003, 25 years after he graduated. He now teaches classes in reporting and sports journalism.

While a student at Auburn, the Jacksonville, Fla., native worked all four years on The Plainsman, serving as editor from 1977-78. Two of the years he worked with the paper, The Plainsman was awarded a National Pacemaker Award by the Associated College Press. After graduating in 1978, Carvalho worked for 14 years as a journalist, mainly in magazine editing. A transition to college public relations work led to another transition – to college teaching.

He completed his master's degree from California State University, Fullerton while teaching part time at Azusa Pacific University. After that, he joined the faculty of Campbell University in 1994 and began working on his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. Carvalho completed his Ph.D. in 1999 and was named chair of the Department of Mass Communication in 2001. Two years later, however, his alma mater came calling, and he accepted an appointment in the Department of Communication and Journalism. From 2004-2009, he served as director of the journalism program.

His main research area focuses on sports media history, particularly during the 1920s and 1930s. He also is an active blogger and tweeter on sports media issues and has appeared on several sports talk radio programs. This Friday, Carvalho will be speaking at the All-Star Lecture Series at 3 p.m. in the Auburn Alumni Center.

1. What was it like for you to return to Auburn as a professor 25 years after you graduated?

It was pretty awesome. That an alma mater would call one of her own back to serve on the faculty felt like an honor to me. Since 2003, I have reconnected with friends and professors and have even taught the children of alums I went to school with.

2. In what ways has The Plainsman evolved since your time working on staff as a student?

Obviously, the technology is a lot more advanced. Back in the day, we were still typesetting articles and pasting them up onto layout sheets. So I'm old enough to remember the struggles of those pre-desktop publishing days. I have no desire to go back to that.

Now, The Plainsman staff faces the same challenge as the rest of the news media: the constant deadline. When news breaks - shootings involving students, the poisoning of the Toomers Oaks - the pressure to get information out and continue to update it is immense, much greater than when I was a student. We could always point to Thursday as our publication day, and our readers were conditioned to look to the newspaper that day to get their information. We didn't have to worry about keeping a website current; that balances out our having to write articles on manual typewriters, I suppose.

3. How is the collaboration with Raycom Media benefitting the School of Communication and Journalism?

This is such an important collaboration for our students. Journalists today need to be adept at reporting both for print and broadcast platforms. This partnership will provide our students with excellent equipment and will link them to professionals at WSFA in Montgomery and WTVM in Columbus. We have enjoyed such relationships within print-related news outlets. It's great to be able to provide that from digital broadcast-related news outlets.

4. How has social media, especially Twitter, transformed the way people go about their day-to-day lives?

Obviously, Twitter has turned out to be quite a tool for linking people to information - first, the breaking news itself and then the articles that report on it. To me, it has turned out to be a boon for the news industry, in terms of drawing eyes to the pages.

For me personally, I decided a couple of years ago to combine blogging and Twitter to augment my classroom teaching and research in sports media. I blog - mainly for The War Eagle Reader, but also other outlets - and tweet particularly about sports media issues. You can find all of my blogs at and my Twitter name is @JohnCarvalhoAU.

It has turned out to be a great resource, putting me in touch with individuals I would not have a chance to interact with otherwise - journalists from SI, ESPN, CBS and others. Just a couple of weeks ago, Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated, whom I follow on Twitter and follows me, Skyped into the class to talk about an article he had written that appeared in "Best American Sports Writing of 2012," one of our textbooks. That would not have happened without Twitter.

5. What is your favorite Auburn tradition?

Honestly, my favorite Auburn tradition is The Plainsman - not only its tradition of bringing news and information to the students, but also the staff members who have contributed through the years and who have enjoyed a close bond. This bond extends through the many decades of staff members, who all shared the burden and the joy of working together to produce it. A 1970 grad who worked on The Plainsman can relate to a staff member today, even with all the changes in technology. We see that when our Advisory Council members meet with the staff as part of Journalism Day. It's special to observe that.

Nov. 11, 2013