Guest Editorial: An Open Letter about “Doni and Me”! by Prof. Ronn Nichols
(ST. LOUIS - August 11, 2012) - As I remember, it was the Fall of 1993 when I first encountered one Mr. Donald Glover, son of a prominent Baltimore funeral director and mortician and a student in the new Media Arts Program at what was then-Coppin State College in Baltimore Maryland. Little did I know that the meeting during fall registration would forever alter my life and many of my notions about the city itself. I was a middle-aged college professor at an HBCU, and as such, I was feeling an acute sense of awareness about such schools and what their very existence could mean to present-day and future Black students seeking a degree in the ever growing field of media and communications.
After reading “Megatrends” by John Naisbitt, which is a ground breaking piece of speculative literature about the coming revolution in the communications world and its proposed impact on all our lives, I had set-out to help carve a niche in that relatively new field for young African-American students studying in college then and in the foreseeable future - to make a place where our students could take advantage of massive opportunities that were soon to present themselves in American life!
"Megatrends" was and still is considered the ultimate but speculative authority on where our society was headed in this communication revolution which was just emerging in the 80’s and 90’s.
Now it must appear that I have abandoned the story of “Doni and Me,” but I assure you, dear readers, that I have not. For it was at this locus that Doni and I first met.
Young Mr. Glover, hardly out of his 20’s, and finally ready to make a serious commitment toward finishing his college education, enrolled at Coppin State and, as luck would have it, settled on this new major, Media Arts - the very same that I [with a lot of help] had written and gotten approved as a part of the degree-granting curriculum at the college.
As it turned out, Doni who is a very impressionable young man, at least in terms of new and exciting ideas, found himself in my “Introduction to Mass Communications” class. The history of our journey together begins there, in that class!
My first order of business in that basic introductory course was to introduce students to the groundbreaking works of John Naisbitt of “Megatrends” fame. By now, the book which was about 3 years into publication, was enjoying widespread success across the globe. I felt that it was important to have students look seriously at the business and technical trends that would hold sway on their future careers. They needed to know about all the emerging opportunities and how to capitalize on them for themselves.
While there was a regular text to the course, to be sure, the students and I spent great deal of time pouring over all this new and valuable, first-time information. I wanted each of them to be steeped in the knowledge of how to use what there was to build a successful career in media, local or national!
From the very first day, Doni seemed intrigued with the Naisbitt message. That message was…COME LIVE THIS FUTURE.
Although first written mainly to an American readership, Megatrends proved to be true in anticipating major shifts for the whole world. More than 9 Million copies were sold in 58 countries, and it was on the New York Times Bestsellers list for two years, mostly as #1. Twenty years after its publication, Christoph Keese in the Financial Times looked back: Once a decade, sometimes more often, a book about the economy is published that becomes a bestseller immediately and changes the relationship of people to economics. His predictions were astoundingly precise – though predictions, as Mark Twain’s one-liner says, are especially difficult if they are about the future. Although first written mainly to an American readership, Megatrends proved to be true in anticipating major shifts for the whole world.
But, I digress. So, from the moment I began explaining the Naisbitt philosophy I could see an intense interest develop in Doni as he literally absorbed every word about both of the books “MEGATRENDS” and “MEGATRENDS 2000”. So very intense was his interest that we sometimes spent many long moments after classes, [he had me for 3 in one semester] discussing the meaning and scope of each of the 2 books.
I am firmly convinced that it was his interest in this man’s version of the future landscape of mass communications that has fueled Doni’s passion for the field. To the point that it is sure to have birthed the iconic “Bmore News” and now all of its other publishing offspring as well! Even then, I could easily trace his motives. So when years later, after I had moved on to teach at Morgan State University, I learned from Doni that he planned to follow a career in publishing a new kind of news “organ” for public and community consumption, I was not surprised. I say “organ” because to me, “Bmore News ‘ as its known, draws from many areas and all about the new media realities spoken of in “Megatrends”.
In many ways Doni Glover is a force in the establishment as well as the promulgation of the new media opportunities that we discussed often in the early ‘90’s. I will say this. I don’t think that I had a clue, at the time, that Doni would go on to be the giant he has become in the industry and in the Baltimore community. Oh, he had the talent for sure. I think I was fixated on getting the message out to my students and did not fully grasp that it could or would affect one of them, Doni Glover.
As I recall the history of the Media Arts Program at Coppin State University in the Helter Skelter days of the early to mid-1990’s, I am always reminded of the many colleagues, like the entire English Department, who helped to establish the program, the many contemporaries like Marconi Combs, who aided and abetted the programs’ growth, and the Students, like one Mr. Doni Glover, who took a vision, adopted that vision, adapted that very same vision …….and then worked that vision like no other!
I am indebted to them all……and I am most of Doni. He "is" truly……the son I never had!