Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rethinking Journalism Education Version 2.0 - a hit

- I generally dread academic meetings with faculty. There have been waaaaaay too many since I started teaching in 1982 at California State University, Chico. And last year as chair of the Faculty Senate at CSU, Sacramento?

Don't get me started.

So it was with great relief that even before the meeting began on how to best educate our students in the Digital Age, I was able to chat with one of the guest speakers, Jeff Pelline the editor of the Grass Valley Union, in Grass Valley, Calif.

Yes, that's the same Grass Valley Union where I hung my hat from 1977 to 1981 before I left to take over the newspaper in Chico, Calif. Jeff and I joked about the state of the industry (sad), the state of the community in Grass Valley (not much changed since I was editor) and a fellow who worked for me in 1981 who just celebrated his 50th year working for the newspaper.

Fifty years. Jaysus.

But the day was peppered with good conversations from very earnest professors from all over the state who are trying to figure out the best way to get our university students up to speed with the skills they need.

The session, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association and chaired by Professor Sylvia Fox, was a followup to meeting held in the spring of editors and publishers who spent their time putting together a squawk list of skills they hoped college graduates would bring when they arrived at their various newspapers' doorsteps. The list hasn't changed much since I was an editor hiring right-out-of-school grads: graduates should understand ethics, be incredibly curious, be able to find information, relate to their audience, and, and, and...

But new to the list is that students should have video skills, be able to upload stories, photos and video to to the Web, tell a story in many formats and perhaps even be able to use HTML.

I marveled at the conversation, remembering the fights in newsrooms I worked in over whether reporters should even be allowed (allowed!) to carry cameras. Photographers didn't like the idea (nor did the union representing them). Technology has blown past all those concerns.

As my part of the day's events, I shot some quick video with my Flip video camera and then quickly threw together a brief 'movie' (see below) during the period after lunch, which I played for the group in the afternoon. I actually got some applause.

It's always nice to get applause.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. And what will they do when the students entering the program have been using those skills since they started using a computer before they entered school?

    We (older people - over 18) speak technology as a second language. The next generation of students reaching the hallowed halls of academe will be native speakers. I can almost hear their comments now…

    "Use mark-up? What dinosaur designed an interface that requires mark-up - they should be shot. Use bad proprietary tools? No, I'll go get the free ones on the web. Better yet, get the designer to build some templates with the css styles locked so we can just paste in spell-checked and edited text."

    The only problem with designing courses in technology is that they are usually obsolete after they are delivered the first time. It will be a challenge to any degree/certification program to keep their technology offerings relevant as the years pass.

    As for the deleted comment, that will teach me not to preview before posting!