From iCarly to the classroom, meet professor Reed Alexander

Reed Alexander, who plays the infamous Nevel Papperman on iCarly, pictured in the courtyard of the School of Communication.
Reed Alexander, who plays the infamous Nevel Papperman on iCarly, pictured in the courtyard of the School of Communication. Photo credit: Parker Gimbel

Reed Alexander found stardom playing Nevel Papperman on Nickelodeon’s hit TV show “iCarly.” But this spring semester, evil plots and snarky blogs will give way to Alexander’s newest role: adjunct journalism professor at the University of Miami.

“I really enjoy mentoring people and I enjoy investing in other people’s growth, and I think that nothing lets you do that in the way that teaching does,” said Alexander, now a financial-news reporter for Business Insider. “It is a real responsibility. It is an investment in students’ futures.”

While starring in productions including NBC’s “Will and Grace,” Nickelodeon’s “Sam and Cat” and Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It,” Alexander was regularly interviewed by various media outlets, giving the precocious child star his first taste of the world of journalism.

“I recognized that I wanted to be in the position where I could ask the questions and I could write stories and decide what words to use and essentially bring stories to life to viewers,” Alexander said.

Alexander eventually decided to make the switch from interviewee to interviewer and enroll in a journalism program at the collegiate level, going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism, business management and leadership at New York University.

While journalism may seem like a big leap from acting, Alexander compared the skills needed to give a good performance to the process of interviewing potential sources.

“You are dealing with situations and working with people where there is a lot of emotional energy and they may be experiencing things that you have never experienced,” Alexander continued. “Journalism is similar.”

After completing his undergraduate studies, Alexander became a breaking news reporter for CNN in Hong Kong before moving back to New York.

After a few years of working for numerous media outlets, Alexander decided to further his education and attend graduate school at the Columbia University School of Journalism, eventually earning his master’s.

He has worked as a reporter for multiple outlets including CNN International, Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network and the BBC. Since 2020, Alexander has worked as a Wall Street reporter for Business Insider.

Alexander says he values the opportunity journalism provides to meet and communicate with people from different backgrounds. While he has mainly focused on financial-news reporting, he worked as a mental health journalist for several years.

During his time as a mental health reporter, he learned how to incorporate mental health research, new technologies and methods of overcoming trauma into his journalistic techniques.

As a Boca Raton native, Alexander cited the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 as a pivotal moment in his young career.

After profiling six teachers who lived through the shooting and became sources of strength for their students, he was inspired by the teachers’ ability to serve as beacons of hope for their students.

Hoping to become more involved in education and share the skills he learned after years of working with numerous professors, editors and journalistic professionals, Alexander sought to fulfill a lifelong goal to work with students.

Given his previous interactions with multiple University of Miami faculty and alumni, Alexander was impressed by the facilities, broadcast studios and production centers at the institution.

“I chose the school because I was so impressed by the facilities and resources at the School of Communication. I could have considered other places but this was really the only place that I wanted to start my life as an academic and as a professor,” Alexander said.

Alexander currently teaches “Writing for the Digital Age,” an introductory journalism course focused on learning how to tell stories for online audiences.

“It is the art of accessing information that you have obtained, critically reviewing the information to determine if it is factual or if it has polls and what is the best way to put it in front of audiences,” Alexander said. “That’s what journalism is: obtaining information, accessing it and figuring out how to put it together.”

Beyond improving their writing skills, students learn about editorial judgment, how to use critical and analytical thinking to assess situations, how to be legally and ethically minded when writing and how to think like journalists.

Students enrolled in this course have the chance to develop professional pieces of digital writing to use in their academic portfolios.

“Being in classrooms over the years, people really lack confidence in their writing,” Alexander said. “In the same way that people lack confidence in public speaking, I find that people lack confidence in public writing. The fact is all of us within ourselves are amazing writers.”

Alexander said he aims to teach his students how to voice their opinions in a vivid, distinctive and confident manner.

“We can all learn to communicate through really beautiful language, and I want my students to have confidence in their writing skills by the end of this and that when they write, they have a vision, a voice, a flair, a style that they can use,” Alexander continued.

While students will surely recognize him from his acting work, Alexander hopes to distinguish himself as an educator by incorporating modern journalism techniques into his curriculum and providing his students with a supportive environment.

“I think that makes a difference and reminds them that first and foremost in this class, I am a reporter and a professor and that I am here for them,” Alexander said. “I want them to be comfortable with Reed the Professor, Reed the Journalist, not Nevel from iCarly that happens to be teaching here.”