David Wheeler knew he wanted to work in journalism since he was five. Back then he used to pretend he was a TV reporter for NBC News. Now at 37, Wheeler has gone on to write for some of the most recognized names in the news business, including The Atlantic Magazine, CNN and The New York Times.
This fall he will begin at the University of Tampa as the newest faculty hire in the journalism program. Wheeler is currently a journalism professor at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, about 30 minutes outside Lexington.
“I am impressed with the students,” Wheeler said of the University of Tampa. “Just teaching one class [at UT], I was amazed at how much the students knew about journalism. I can’t wait to meet everybody; I am really excited. It’s an honor to teach with people of that quality and caliber.”
Wheeler attended Asbury University where he studied media and journalism. He wrote for The Asbury Collegian, the student newspaper, an experience that “solidified” that journalism was what he wanted to do. He enjoyed telling important stories and the social life that came along with it.
“I felt that the journalism students understood where I was coming from,” Wheeler said. “I loved being around other thinkers, writers, and storytellers.”
After obtaining both his masters and bachelors at AU, he worked for a small-town newspaper until 2006 when he not only decided that he would go back to AU to teach, but also to pursue his PhD. Along with working at Asbury and finishing his doctorate degree, Wheeler regularly freelances for publications in the U.S. and abroad.
Not only has Wheeler traveled for his own stories, but he has also traveled with some of his students as well.
“I love taking students on trips,” Wheeler said. “I’ve taken students all over the U.S., as well as France, Germany, Austria, Italy and England.”
Wheeler also took some students to cover the 2012 Olympics in London. While there, they made videos that were aired on local TV stations. Although traveling is something that Wheeler loves, he said moving from Kentucky to Tampa is “bittersweet.”
“I will miss my family and the great people/friendships,” Wheeler said. “But my wife [Jessica Wheeler] and I are excited to be moving to Tampa.”
He’s looking forward to learning from his new students, building friendships with his new colleagues and enjoying the warm weather all year round. Next semester, Wheeler will teach First Year Writing, Introduction to Journalism and Multimedia Journalism.
“Wheeler is a very lively and enthusiastic guy,” said Kathleen Oschorn, who serves as interim coordinator for the journalism major. “Considering that we have a terrific journalism program with great journalism professors, I’m sure he’ll be a great addition and will contribute to the program.”
Wheeler hopes to be a great professor for his students at UT by preparing them well for a career in journalism.
“The fact that he has background working for famous publications, such as the New York Times, is going to be very beneficial to any journalism student,” said junior journalism major, Ann Marie Distasi. “We can get direct feedback, and see what he did in his career that we can use to make ourselves better journalists.”
While working at UT, Wheeler will continue as a freelance writer. He believes that no matter where you are, there are always story opportunities.
“If too much time goes by and I haven’t written an article or worked on a multimedia project, I get antsy,” Wheeler said. “Wherever you are, there are always story opportunities.”
Ariel Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org