Tango your way out of trouble

May 26, 2006

Name : Paul Rowinski

Age : 41

Job : Lecturer in journalism studies, Strathclyde University.

Working conditions : Very fair.

Background : After several years in the regional press, I became a Berlin-based foreign correspondent for The European , Scotland on Sunday and national titles including The Times Educational Supplement . I was also a columnist for German newspapers and I worked for Deutsche Welle television. On my return, I carried on working for the nationals. I am now completing my PhD looking at discourses on Europe in the British and the Berlusconi-run Italian press. I specialise in media law, politics for journalists and Europe.

How many students do you teach? Forty to 50 postgraduates working towards an MLitt in journalism studies, combining vocational preparation with a dissertation.

Biggest challenge: Being the new boy from London mastering Scots English and adding it to my international lexicon. Fair's fair: if the vanguard of the Scottish Enlightenment standardised their English to share their thoughts with the world - and the English - I should learn what "skoosh" means.

Worst moment in university life : Facing a validation panel and bracing myself for the line of questioning that never came. What is your working space like? I have a plaque on the door that denotes my standing in the world. It has a sliding section with the words "engaged" and "free". I slide this somewhere between the two. Ambiguity is everything.

What university facilities do you use use? The Ross Priory university centre on the shore of Loch Lomond is breathtaking. This is where I will finish research chapters. Colleagues in creative writing have found their muse here. I use the staff canteen to meet with the great and good of Scottish journalism.

Do you socialise with staff? Occasionally.

How do you cope with difficult people? Charm, wit and a subtle manoeuvre. I have an advantage: having mastered the Argentinian tango, I know a slight impulse can mean a change in direction.

Best excuse for bad behaviour : Feigning serious illness to avoid submitting work. Where is your doctor's note?

Do you interact with other parts of the university? We engage not only with other departments but our centre is jointly run with Glasgow Caledonian University, so we continuously exchange ideas.

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