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Learning at the Feet of Deborah Potter

08/05/2011 06:24

Deborah Potter, president and executive director of Newslab, an online resource center for journalists, epitomizes all that journalism is. 


Her online resource center, just as the name depicts - NewsLab, is a laboratory that serves as a reservoir of journalism resource materials. 


It provides insight into modern tools of journalism, commentaries and analysis on diversity in the newroom, tips on investigative reporting techniques, multimedia skills, tips on what not to eat before going on air as a broadcast journalist; simply put, everything about journalism.


It's not surprising. Potter has been in the business of mass communication for about three decades now, and has been "spreading the gospel of journalism" since 1998 - the year she founded NewsLab, as a non-profit journalism resource center.


My first encounter with Potter, was sometime in 2006, in Lagos, Nigeria. Really, I didn't meet her in person. I met her in one of her resource materials - HANDBOOK OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM. 


The name "Deborah Potter" stuck from that very first encounter. The publication made a huge impression on me.


But, never in the faintest of my imagination did I consider the possibility of meeting Potter in person. 


But I did, at a mentorship workshop in a conference room of The Washington Post, in Washington D.C., courtesy of the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships. It seemed to me more like a miracle. It's that kind of feeling that goes through your mind when you hit a jackpot. Like meeting the President.  


Potter is all affable. 


The first thing I noticed about her, was that she looked very much the same with the photo of her that I had seen in the publication - the hairdo had that same crest, with the hair slicked neatly over the top of her head. The colour of the suit was different, but surely the design, seemed to me to be more of the "Deborah Potter trademark".


But, beyond the adorable beauty and the privilege of meeting her in person, there was so much to learn at the feet of Potter, which can be summed up in these words: "Newsrooms are shrinking, but journalism itself is thriving." 


Potter, no doubt, is a role model. 



- Your Pal




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