Professor Michael Hissam, a communication professor at Clarion University, has an enthusiasm for the journalistic field that can turn into a valuable lesson for his students. Hissam said he was interested in communication long before he started teaching.
Hissam earned his bachelor’s degree at Cleveland State University in business with a concentration in finance and economics, and he earned his master’s degree through Clarion’s online degree program. Yes, he is an alumni and yes, he loves it.
“Economics is very integrated, but many of the values on business side is more similar than one might think,” said Hissam.
He said he then reconsidered the gap in business reporting and decided to follow a career in that field as well.
He said, “Understanding we tend to have a small percent of information from which we can make a judgment because business is more complex…Preparedness, research and taking a 360-[degree] view to see what is not known before the interview is all critical [in reporting].”
Hissam’s work experience in the journalism and communication field is a bulky history.
He first became interested in the field when he was a radio news director in northeast Ohio. Hissam worked in Mexico as the Regional Director of Communication at Delphi, which is a spinoff from General Motors. Hissam crossed the border more than 3,100 times because he lived in Texas.
He also taught some communication courses at Kent State University.
Hissam talked about the pressures of journalism due to the media world constantly evolving without an end and dealing with people.
He said, “I tell my students before they go out to think about their parents…your job is to help someone learn something today that she or he didn’t know yesterday.”
He said, “Understand we live in a sensory overload world.”
He explained that the journalist’s job is to define the issue, explain its importance, pinpoint the key messages to support and explain where there is belief of the reader being misconstrued.
Working as a child helped Hissam learn a couple valuable lessons. When he was a teenager, his first job was a newspaper route in which he learned early the importance of profit and loss. His second job, caddying at a golf place, dealt with dealing with difficult people.
Hissam said he is also proud of his bilingual abilities and experiences because of them. He discovered the importance of learning numerous languages when his maternal grandfather spoke eight languages. He was a coal miner in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He said he felt that was when a “light bulb” went off, and he decided that speaking another language was essential. This taught him the essence of clear communication when he had to do a tour at GM Delphi to eight Spanish-only speaking people.
This eventually played a role in his wanderlust. He has traveled to the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Spain, Nicaragua, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and a few more places. Hissam said he believes it takes hard work to succeed.
“The person next to you is twice as afraid as you and just wants you to show it first,” he said. “I hope that one day I can lead, see and listen to work my students did to help me make a better decision.”
Hissam said he loves the university and is looking forward to continuing teaching during the many years to come.