Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Michael Koretzky: 'Journoterrorist': Teaches Students It's OK to Fail

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Michael Koretzky: 'Journoterrorist': Teaches Students It's OK to Fail

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Many journalism students may be inclined to state the obvious when listing those who have most influenced their studies: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Walter Cronkite, and so on. But at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., the man students say has had the greatest impact on their education was fired from the university in 2010 and refers to himself as the "Journoterrorist."

Michael Koretzky is a 47-year-old college dropout who works from home as a freelance editor. He blogs at journoterrorist.com, and his bio states he was "expelled from Boca Raton Academy in 1981, suspended from the University of Florida journalism school in 1989, fired from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1997, brought up on charges of 'malfeasance' and 'misfeasance' at Florida Atlantic University in 2005, (and) finally fired from there in 2010." Koretzky was adviser for the FAU student-run newspaper University Press for 12 years before being fired. Today, he continues to advise the paper on a volunteer basis.

Koretzky said his bio is a "badge of honor," meant to show students that "you will fail, but you will come out of it just fine." He received the Journoterrorist moniker from his critics who, according to Koretzky, are "thin-skinned journalists" who can't take criticism and are mostly "journalists (his) own age."

Given the antiestablishment tone of his resume, it should come as no surprise that Koretzky's teachings stray from the traditionally accepted way of doing things. On his website he refers to his journalism programs as "twisted j-ed," and his various projects have caught the attention of an industry that doesn't quite know what to make of his teaching methods. Because FAU doesn't have a journalism program, Koretzky said he wanted to create ways to teach the subject outside of the typical lecture hall.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Free food

The first of the twisted j-ed programs to be implemented was the First Amendment Free Food Festival. Koretzky started the festival in 2006 with grant funds from the Society of Professional Journalists. A section of FAU's campus was roped off and declared a socialist country. Students were offered a free lunch inside the now-foreign soil, but only if they signed away their First Amendment rights. A "goon squad" made sure students didn't speak in line, because there was no freedom of speech, and once students received their free food, they couldn't eat with friends, because they had no right to peaceably assemble. The festival has been duplicated at four other college campuses around the country.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Feed me

Will Write for Food is Koretzky's favorite program and perhaps the most controversial. Now in its fourth year, the program partners 20 college journalists with a private homeless shelter near downtown Hollywood, Fla. The shelter supports itself by selling the Homeless Voice, reportedly the second-largest street paper in the nation.

Koretzky used to volunteer as editor for the shelter's paper, and when he brought issues into the college newsroom, students would mock it, so he challenged them: "Can you do better?" Now, every Labor Day weekend, students set up a newsroom in the shelter and take over Homeless Voice--writing stories, taking photographs, and designing an entire 24-page issue in 36 hours. This year, there were 37 applicants for the 20 available spaces in the program.

Recent FAU graduate and Will Write for Food participant Gideon Grudo said, "You walk in thinking you know about homeless people, but once you start talking to them face to face, you hear their stories. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.