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PYSK: Keith Politte

Manager, Technology Testing Center, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
Keith Politte: Manager, Technology Testing Center, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
CONTACTS: E-mail: polittek@gmail.com; AIM/Skype/Twitter: mojokp
AGE: 51
JOB DESCRIPTION: My job is to build relationships that match and accelerate various RJI areas of interest. That entails working with companies such as Apple and Adobe to take their emerging technologies and apply them to the challenges facing journalism. In turn, I try to incorporate campus partners to leverage those initiatives.
YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: I was born and raised in Columbia, and following high school I spent time on both coasts for college and law school. I returned to Columbia in the fall of 2001 after living in San Francisco for nearly 20 years.
EDUCATION: After I graduated from Rock Bridge High School, I attended Boston University, where I earned a B.A. in geography with an emphasis in environmental studies. I earned my J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco and focused on tax law. Additionally, I studied at San Francisco State University’s multimedia studies program in Internet design and development.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Since returning to Columbia, I have volunteered with various arts organizations, including the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Currently my efforts are directed at extending RJI technology initiatives, incorporating the strengths of area high schools and larger economic development initiatives.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Following law school, I joined Arthur Andersen and Co. and then practiced law in a San Francisco firm. After a couple of years, I sought a new direction and got involved in two political campaigns, one at the presidential level and the other for California governor. After the campaigns ended, the Web was beginning to emerge, and I ended up doing product development and then business development for a dot-com. Returning to Columbia, I joined MU’s For All We Call Mizzou capital campaign, which ultimately led me to the Missouri School of Journalism.
A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: Last year’s RJI Student Competition was built around Adobe’s new Flash Catalyst tool and was aimed at solving challenges provided by Hearst Corporation’s Innovation Group. The teams of journalism and computer science students blew away the judges with their solutions. We took the winners to the SF offices of Adobe, where we were joined by the winning team from Shanghai’s Fudan University in our parallel competition. The project culminated in Shanghai, where we attended the World Expo, toured Shanghai and spent a memorable evening in a karaoke bar trading our best efforts to both Western and Chinese music videos.
A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: I have a couple of folks I’d have to mention: Jim Spencer of Newsy for his focus and drive, David Wilson and Paul Sturtz for their vision and Cindy Mustard for making Columbia a better community.
WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: It is really cool to bring together opportunities that our students seize upon and run with. The only way I can even hope to remain current is to keep them engaged with projects that they can dive into, stretch and grow and from which I can hopefully learn and be inspired by.
IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: I would probably be building knockoffs of Alexander Calder sculptures or some other artistic expression. A vodka micro-distillery sounds fun, too.
BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: An ongoing challenge to move new ideas and opportunities around entrenched impediments. I expect to always be working on this in one way or another.
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: Throw convention out the door. Be prepared for resistance from those uncomfortable with change. Pay attention to conflicting interests, and resolve to find the connections. Students can’t afford the timeline of a bureaucrat.
WHAT I DO FOR FUN: Conversation over a good glass of wine is always good.
FAMILY: My parents, Lenard and Mary Lu, as well as two of my siblings and their families are here in Columbia, and I have a brother in NYC. I am single.
FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: I like the campus’ Francis Quadrangle, especially very early in the morning.
ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: I am most proud (so far) of my role in initiating the collaborative relationship between Apple and the Missouri School of Journalism.
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I: I had my 21st birthday in Agra, India, at the Taj Mahal.

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