In a matter of just a few months, the location and professional focus of veteran journalist Bob Tourtellotte have been completely uprooted.
Tourtellote was forced to take a leave of absence in early September from his post as entertainment editor at Reuters LA headquarters because of the passing of his father in Oklahoma. The wire service was extremely supportive in trying to accommodate their staffer’s time away, but because of such issues as needing to deal in the new year with his late father’s estate, the span of time became too long to accommodate. Tourtellote’s last official day with Reuters, where he began working in 1992, was December 31.
And today was Tourtellotte’s first day teaching an undergraduate journalism class at his Alma Mater Oklahoma State University. “When I found I was going to be here in Stillwater through the spring, I decided to contact OSU and see if there was anything I could do,” Tourtellotte tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “They said, ‘We’ll find something,’ and now here I am. I’ve never taught a class before; it’s a new challenge.”
There are 72 students in all, ages 20 and 21, broken into four separate lab groups. “I knew I was going to be out of the LA scene for another four-five months, so I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to keep my head in the journalism game?’”
“Here’s a student group that has consumed news for the past ten years on the Web and the past four-five years on Smartphones and tablets,” he adds. “I will head back to LA with hopefully a little bit of knowledge gained about how this generation is consuming news. It’s going to be a great learning experience for me as well.”