Professor Hawkins has 50 years of experience as a journalist, teacher, executive and manager in all facets of broadcast news, production and marketing, with a particular emphasis on international news. He has reported in 29 countries and has served as Asia Operations Manager and foreign editor for NBC News. A common theme running through many of his international projects is the need for Americans to understand other countries and their citizens, thus becoming true citizens of the world themselves. And a key part of that process is instilling an understanding that our approach to media, even our approach to democracy, is not going to work universally, and probably should not.
Underlying the dramatic technological and corporate changes in journalism and media, says Prof. Hawkins, are the little-noticed changes in industry “best practices.” The fixation on new media, along with profit, has caused a significant drift away from the fundamentals of solid journalism … the necessary public expectation that we’re working for them. It is, increasingly, a tough argument to make. We must not allow the “fourth estate” to become only a revenue proposition; it is too firmly grounded in our very construction, and too central to the potential futures of others around the world. Our advances in new capability must remain in service to our higher calling, and clearly, that requires new education.
Thus, reflecting a recurring frustration with the lack of quality, substance, and global commitment of U.S. broadcast news, Mr. Hawkins moved to Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, in August 2007 to accept an appointment as Assistant Professor of Journalism at the American University in Bulgaria. There, along with his wife and fellow faculty member Sandra Earley, he taught elite students from Bulgaria, the Balkans, and countries from Mongolia to Turkmenistan to Zimbabwe. They now both teach at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA, trading one cross-cultural challenge for another.
“The wonderful mix of opportunity and challenge at AUBG, with its focus on introducing new ideas and appreciation of media and societal impacts on developing democracies, was remarkably rejuvenating,” Hawkins explains. He has taught the main introductory JMC course, Communications, Media & Society, basic journalism and TV reporting courses, Media Law & Ethics, advanced courses in international reporting and global media, and courses on Communications Theory and Multimedia Journalism.
A long-time innovator dedicated to fashioning top-quality TV and radio programs with complex content, Professor Hawkins is the founder and principal partner of Mission Media Associates of Savannah, GA. It advises on national and international projects that employ high quality, responsible journalism to address significant social and cultural issues. Before moving to Bulgaria, he was advising Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia on its TV studio operation and teaching television and journalism production. As a result, the inner-city students were treated to daily reports from new sources such as Al Jazeera English to broaden their world views. He also advised the President of American University - Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan on global communications and marketing, as well as its journalism and broadcasting academic programs.
Previously, Professor Hawkins led seminars with local broadcasters in Hungary on contemporary news techniques and the prospects/problems of mixing quality journalism with revenue expectations. That project, coordinated with the Government of Hungary and the Cox International Center at the University of Georgia, revealed as much about U.S. news broadcasting as the needs in Hungary.
Professor Hawkins played a major role in creating the innovative Mideast News Service in January 2003. He advised on the broad content of the web site, its mission statement and promotion of the service. He also produced "MNS Journal," the web site's unique video vignettes and non-partisan analysis reports from the Middle East.
Building synergies in news operations and programming has been a recurring theme throughout Mr. Hawkins’ varied career. Even in his early work with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, he was recognized by the Secretary of the Navy for his innovative work building technical and content capacities between commands in the Gulf of Tonkin. By the mid-1970’s and at the CBS affiliate in Eastern Idaho, he instituted the first noon-time combination news and home advice program which dominated the time slot within four months. Later, at NBC News in Asia, he worked to develop a system of “firebases” through the region, streamlining news coverage and reducing costs, while also pushing for collaboration among multi-national news agencies.
NBC News has been a regular professional base for Mr. Hawkins during his wide and varied career. He began in 1972 as a desk assistant at the network's New York news headquarters, when he was just back from Vietnam and attending Columbia University. Since then he has held several important positions. As Manager of News Operations in Tokyo from 1986 to 1990, he ran the region's 10 bureaus outside Japan and trained the Asian news desk staff in Tokyo. He also produced major news coverage for the network, including coverage of China's Tiananmen Square riots, Emperor Hirohito's death, Gorbachev meeting Gandhi, the Philippine and South Korean democracy movements, and U.S.-Vietnam MIA talks.
Prior to his Asia tour, he was an NBC News foreign editor in New York and conceived, assigned and coordinated both foreign and domestic news coverage. More recently, he was a business news editor for CNBC, also coordinating coverage with CNBC Asia and Europe.
Public broadcasting's commitment to thoughtful, global programming has also attracted Mr. Hawkins during his career. In the early 1990's, he was Senior Vice President of News and Information for Public Radio International in Minneapolis, where he built the news programming and marketing department. He also conceived PRI's award-winning global news program, "The World."
In public television, Mr. Hawkins was the Director of News and Public Affairs for Chicago's WTTW-TV. There he developed and produced local, national, and international documentaries, town hall meetings, political debates and a children's series on education.
Mr. Hawkins went on to combine his public television and radio interests at the New Jersey Network, the state's public broadcasting operation. He served as Executive Producer for TV News, in charge of the network's unique, statewide, daily news program. At the same time, he re-launched and managed the network's radio operation, quintupling its audience in just the first audience survey. He was also a member of NJN’s Executive Staff.
Earlier, Mr. Hawkins worked as a reporter at several TV stations including KARE-TV in Minneapolis, where he was Managing Editor, and KMSP-TV, also in Minneapolis, where he was Assistant News Director and did daily TV reporting. As Director of News and Production for Guam Cable TV, he revamped all facets of the newsroom, leading to the 1978 "Best Newscast" award from the National Cable Television Association (NCTA).
Professor Hawkins has a Master's degree in journalism and a BA in history, both from Columbia University. He was also a Reflective Leadership Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. He has served on the Board of the Centre for Asians and Pacific Islanders (CAPI) in Minneapolis, as a Trustee of the Phelps Stokes Fund, and Board member of the Camp Nejeda camp for Diabetic children.
During three tours of duty in Vietnam from 1967 to 1971, Mr. Hawkins served as a Navy journalist on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. The holder of seven awards and citations during his Navy career, he was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal from the Secretary of the Navy for his radio and television work in support of the troops, both in the Gulf of Tonkin and in-country.
As a global media consultant for two decades, Mr. Hawkins offers media training, mission-oriented videos, freelance writing and copy editing, and international strategies and planning services through his company, Mission Media Associates. His clients have included The Diabetes Foundation, Novo Nordisk, HealthPartners, the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Southwestern Bell, Public Radio International, the Government of Hungary, Winning Strategies Public Relations, SPJ and others.
Professor Hawkins lives is Savannah, GA, with his wife, writer, editor and fellow professor Sandra Earley. Their son, Bradshaw, a recent graduate of the SMU School of Law, now lives with his wife and four children in Dallas, TX, and works for Goldman Sachs.
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