Meet the Newest Additions to the Journalism Department

Two newcomers joined the department faculty and staff in 2019: Assistant Professor Michael K. Park, Ph.D., Esq., teaching Media Law (JOUR 302) and Journalism Ethics (JOUR 402), and Jonathan Schlitt, general manager for Mustang Media Group.

By Olivia Nelson

Michael Park, Cal Poly Journalism professor

Michael K. Park

What’s your alma mater?

U.S.C., I studied at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the School of Cinematic Arts. I really liked being a college student and learning about interesting issues in journalism, film and digital media. I always knew that my career would in some way gravitate around media, and I loved every minute of being a student and learning from many great professors.

What brought you to San Luis Obispo?

The combination of working with the smart, curious and driven students that Cal Poly attracts, and the wonderful location here on the Central Coast. I was born and raised in California, but I’ve lived in places like Idaho, Syracuse, New York and Boston, and there is no state like the Golden State. It is good to be back.

What is your favorite part about working with college students?

Their curiosity, eagerness to learn and grow, and their youthful exuberance. I particularly enjoy sharing my knowledge but also my own life experiences in hopes that students will excel and grow both professionally and personally.

What has been your most daring career move?

After law school, I accepted a job at a big talent agency called William Morris (now Endeavor) in Beverly Hills. I started in the mailroom making $450 a week while my classmates were making $150,000 a year. Does that count?

What do you find particularly exciting about media, journalism, public relations, etc.?

The media (at least ours) brings the world to us, and I find new communication technology and the disruptions it brings particularly exciting; new media forces us to reevaluate our values, civil liberties, and our own democracy.

Where do you see the industry heading?

It feels a bit like we have reached a media interregnum, between a pre-Trump media and, perhaps a post-Trump media. Has Trump or Trumpism fundamentally changed the editorial decisions and content published by news – or is this a one-off? The public discourse has certainly been altered; have editorial judgments been permanently altered? The industry has to answer whether the current model, whereby the news media posits itself as the answer to Trumpism, is the path to sustainability moving forward (e.g., garnering more subscribers, donations), and by chasing more politically like-minded readers, is the industry enabling further polarization?

One must-read book?

Paul Bloom’s "How Pleasure Works" or "Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment" by Anthony Lewis.

Hobbies outside of the classroom?

I try to run, swim, weightlift, and I like to cook. I also try to travel to new places and eat at new restaurants as much as I can.

Jonathan Schlitt, Mustang Media Group manager

Jonathan Schlitt

What’s your alma mater?

University of Kansas, I graduated with a degree in journalism with an emphasis on advertising. My college experience was a lot of fun and very insightful. I actually got my passion for student media by working in student media.

What brought you to San Luis Obispo?

I worked at the University of Kansas until 2018 and spent the following year working at the University of Michigan. I wasn’t really thinking about going anywhere else, but the predecessor for this position, Paul Bittick, reached out to me in early February and told me he was retiring and encouraged me to apply for the position. I always viewed Mustang Media as one of the pantheon-level programs in college media and to have the opportunity to work in San Luis Obispo and to be part of that group — it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

What is your favorite part about working with college students?

My favorite part about working with college students is seeing them realize their full potential. The best experiences I’ve ever had working with students are when the students come in and are unsure and aren’t 100 percent confident. Then, to see them blossom and gain confidence and be recognized… that’s my favorite thing about working in student media.

What do you find particularly exciting about media, journalism, public relations, etc.?

In the past, you would just run an ad in the newspaper and that was it. Now, you have three or four vehicles to get the message out and craft a unique message for each of these vehicles. It’s fun to figure out; it’s a daily puzzle.

Where do you see the industry heading?

People will always need the news, but outlets will continue to reinvent themselves and find new ways to get information out to readers.

Are you listening to any podcasts right now?

I listen to the Ringer Podcast Network, but one of my favorite podcasts to listen to right now is called “The Rewatchables,” where a group of people evaluate movies to determine what makes them rewatchable.

One must-read book?

Fiction: “The Stand” by Stephen King. Stephen King is my favorite author, and I think it’s the best book he’s ever written. Non-fiction: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.

Hobbies outside of work?

I like to read a lot. I’m also a big kid at heart, so I like to play video games. One of my other favorite things to do is go to garage sales and find hidden treasures.

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