FACULTY PROFILE: JACKIE SOUSA: Busy editor makes time for teaching

Students are often critical of professors who have dedicated their lives to academia and not ventured out into the real world. They are worried that a person without professional experience in their field will not have any practical knowledge to impart.

Students need not worry about lack of experience with journalism professor Jacqueline Sousa.

Sousa has been teaching at UM off-and-on for five years and has working experience as a reporter and editor for over 15.

“Teaching was something I always wanted to do but could never fit into my schedule,” Sousa said. “It’s very difficult to do as a reporter, since you never know when news is going to break and you can’t keep a steady schedule.”

The Cuban-born Sousa grew up in Hialeah and attended UF, majoring in journalism. She worked as a reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and The Wall Street Journal, covering government regulations of businesses in the southeastern United States before she became the one-person bureau in Miami for The Wall Street Journal.

Sousa said that after reporting for 10 years she became interested in editing and became editor of the Daily Business Review and then of the “Business Today” section of The Miami Herald.

She is now editor of the quarterly magazine, Coral Gables Living.

At UM, Sousa teaches introduction to media writing, reporting and magazine planning and editing. Her favorite class is introduction to media writing, despite the notion some students might have that professors prefer high-level courses rather than introductory ones.

“This class covers the fundamentals of writing, which often are missing from the work of many beginning writers,” Sousa said. “When I get to teach the basics, I feel like I’m helping the profession in a small way.”

Sousa also likes seeing the practical benefits of her teaching.

She recalled one of her students who had stories appearing on the front page of a local Miami metro paper where she was interning.

“I was excited that the experience had fueled her passion and interest in journalism,” Sousa said.

Sousa’s experience in the field undoubtedly helps in teaching the reporting class. Likewise, students in her magazine planning and editing class can benefit from Sousa’s current position as editor for Coral Gables Living.

Coral Gables Living is a lifestyle magazine that publishes stories of interest for residents of Coral Gables and its surrounding areas. The magazine covers compelling people, customs, events, businesses and issues, as well as cultural and historical information about the region.

“We launched it in the fall of 2002, and since then we’ve added columns and features, streamlined the design of the magazine,” Sousa said. “Yet, it’s a never-ending process – I’m always scouting for good writers and photographers and looking for fresh angles and perspectives.”

However, Sousa doesn’t simply edit the magazine.

“As a business owner, I wear many hats – from business strategist to circulation director to janitor – I don’t have the luxury of solely focusing on editorial,” Sousa said. “I’m enjoying it, and we’ve had a great response to the magazine.”

Sousa says she enjoys her career and encourages students to do the same.

“You have to be excited about what you’re doing, especially when you’re doing it eight, 10, 12 hours a day,” Sousa said.

Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at pmazzei@umsis.miami.edu.