CNN’s Alex Wellen speaks to students during one of Fox School of Business professor Dr. Samuel Hodge’s recent classes.
Dr. Samuel D. Hodge prides himself in using unconventional methods, like animated, voiced-over videos, to instruct his students.
Recently Hodge, Chair of the Legal Studies department at the Fox School of Business, turned to web-conferencing platform WebEx to bridge the geographic gap between his Business Law students at Temple University and a prominent guest speaker.
CNN Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen virtually addressed Hodge’s students from New York City during a March 31 class session.
As a guest speaker in Hodge’s course, Wellen discussed creative career paths for those with a law degree. Wellen, LAW ’97, served as a teaching assistant under Hodge while pursuing his graduate degree at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
“A law degree teaches you how to think outside of the box. Alex is a classic example of that principle,” Hodge said. “I wanted to show students that having a law degree can be a stepping stone for a number of career paths outside of practicing traditional law.”
Before joining CNN, Wellen produced and co-hosted an Emmy Award-winning television series, Cybercrime, which aired on TechTV. Cybercrime was the first investigative TV series devoted to covering high-tech crime. Wellen told students that, in his youth, he was fascinated by the thought of inventing new products. His childhood passion is now a reality, he said. In his current role, Wellen develops new products for CNN’s mobile, web, video, TV, data and emerging platforms and oversees the global business operations for CNN’s digital platforms.
“It’s important to analyze how people are getting news now and how they will retrieve it in the future,” Wellen told Hodge’s class. “It’s my job to figure all of that out and understand how we can make a business out of it and create good journalism.”
CNN is widely regarded as one of the top cable news networks, responsible for delivering breaking news from across the globe. Thusly, students asked Wellen questions relating to the importance of being first to break a story. Social media, Wellen said, has changed the game, in regard to how quickly people expect to receive news.
“It’s more important to be right than be first,” said Wellen. “Social media allows us to connect with people from across the planet and receive news from first hand witnesses. So it’s extremely important to confirm details before we release information, just like in law.”
Wellen challenged Hodge’s students to view a law degree in a creative way. When starting out in the industry, Wellen said he hadn’t considered a career in journalism.
“You never know who you will meet along your professional journey that will help you get in the door,” Wellen said. “I’ve had great champions in my life that have opened my mind up and taught me how to look at my life untraditionally and to always be open to new experiences.”
Somewhat like Hodge’s innovative methods for bringing elite guest speakers to his students in a Philadelphia classroom.