UMass Amherst Journalism Seminar on Politics and the Media to be Taught by Congressman Richard Neal

AMHERST, Mass. - Journalism students at the University of Massachusetts will get a rare inside view of how national politicians and the press work together by enrolling in a new seminar to be taught this fall and spring by Congressman Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield. The course will focus on the relationships between politicians and reporters.

Neal, who represents Massachusetts 2nd District, is a former mayor and city councilor in Springfield. He taught history and government at Cathedral High School in Springfield and was an instructor at American International College (AIC), the Graduate School of Business at Western New England College, Springfield College, and Springfield Technical Community College. Neal has a bachelor’s degree from AIC and a master’s degree from the University of Hartford.

Norman Sims, chair of the UMass journalism department, says Neal is well suited to show UMass students how politics and the news media function on a day-to-day basis. "Congressman Neal has designed an excellent course that will help our students move beyond the theory of how journalism works, into the more complicated relationship between elected officials and front-line reporters and editors," Sims says. "We’re pleased and honored to have the congressman with us this year."

That sentiment was echoed by UMass Chancellor David K. Scott. "We welcome Congressman Neal to our campus knowing he brings a wide array of experiences to this course," Scott says. He says Neal’s experience both as a teacher and as a veteran elected official at the local and national level will provide students with a well-rounded look at how politicians and the press interact.

Neal, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1988, is running unopposed this fall. He has compiled a reading list of materials that offers a variety of insights into how the national news media and the political establishment work together. Neal says he will invite members of the press, editors, and publishers to speak to the class. "I’m pleased to be returning to the classroom," Neal says. "I look forward to working with the students to help them become better journalists."

Neal is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and since 1992 has served in the leadership as an at-large Democratic whip. In 1995, he was appointed to be a member of the House Steering and Policy Committee – the body that set the membership and structure of standing committees in the House. In 1994, Neal was appointed co-chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, and in 1995 was appointed co-chairman of the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Welfare Reform.