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Human of the Hilltop: The age of Barker

If you walk into Cory Barker’s office, and you might not be able to guess what he does. He could be an Indiana University graduate, with IU gear everywhere. He could be a youth basketball coach, with framed team pictures on his desk. He could be a TV enthusiast, with a bookshelf filled with figurines and books about Netflix and Hulu. Or he could be all three.

Cory Barker is also an assistant professor of journalism.

A graduate from Indiana University with a Ph.D in Communication and Culture, Barker is inter-ested in questions about how different types of media intersect.

“What about Netflix is similar to the DVD, to the VCR, to cable?” Barker asked. “The tendency is to say ‘Wow this is a brand new thing we’ve never seen before’ and that’s never the case.”

Some of his recent research focuses on the increase in “surprise digital distribution” or releasing content to audiences without warning. This includes Netflix’s “The Cloverfield Project”, or Be-yonce’s “Lemonade.”

Barker is also the author and editor of his book, “The Age of Netflix,” which is being translated to many languages, such as Korean. He talked about themes in the book, like the changing media environment, in a recent podcast with The Peoria Journal Star.

Staff members appreciate Barker’s adaptability.

Grace Wang, an assistant professor in the communication department, knew Barker before he came to Bradley through a mutual friend.

She said Barker has something she calls “liquid talent,” adapting knowledge from multiple fields. Wang said this helps Barker make his courses more innovative and revolve around the students.

“We need people like this who can reach across disciplines,” Wang said.

Barker looks forward to his future at Bradley.

He’d like to make a course where students write and produce a local podcast. He also hopes to develop a long-term program at Bradley to help improve media news literacy.

Barker’s versatility extends to the classroom.

Sophomore Public Relations and English double major Peyton LaValley had Barker as a profes-sor last semester. She’s currently in one of his basic reporting classes. LaValley said she could go to him for advice, both as a friend and a professor.

“I’ve never really met a teacher like him,” LaValley said.

Between sips of La Croix, he paced around the room. It’s hard to ignore his hand gestures, with a watch on one wrist and a rubber band on the other.

He persistently asked the students more questions. A few times, he made a quick joke about the assignment, making the room brighten with laughter.

Barker also gave advice for aspiring journalists.

He encouraged students to diversify their studies, saying, “Go broader.”

He said the more you can understand the world, the better. Writing is important, but it’s also im-portant to develop expertise in other areas.

“The basics are easy to pick up,” Barker said. “Journalism is a lifelong attempt to refine those basics.”

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