Aug 252010
Authors: Madeline Novey

CU-Boulder could close its journalism school to make room for a new program designed around the demands of the Information Age, administrators announced Wednesday.

In coming months, a committee will take a look at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and determine in what ways its curriculum needs to evolve to reflect the demands of a digitalized media market. Regardless, students who have been admitted to the school will be able to complete their degrees.

“News and communications transmissions, as well as the role of the press and journalism in a democratic society are changing at a tremendous pace. We must change with it,” CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a statement.

Students today are expected to enter the workforce as a multi-platform journalist –– one who is able to write, shoot photos or video, design or work on the web.

Without innovative training, “Students don’t have a hell of a chance,” said John Winsor, a retired journalist who called into Wednesday’s announcement conference.

The announcement follows a meeting Wednesday in which DiStefano presented the idea of creating a new program of information and communication technology to journalism Dean Paul Voakes, Interim Provost Russell Moore and SJMC faculty.

The idea of establishing a new program of information and communication technology is not new.

UC-Berkeley, Washington, Rutgers, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon are among the media pioneers CU has studied.

In the coming weeks, Voakes and others will search for five to six faculty from outside the journalism school to sit on the exploratory committee that will evaluate SJMC and the possibility of a new program. The committee will gather perspectives from students, faculty and staff from across the university and deliver their recommendations to Moore by the end of the fall semester.

At the same time, the Academic Review and Planning Advisory Committee will look at ways to integrate the school into other academic programs and whether its budget is sustainable.

On Sept. 1, ARPAC will discontinue the journalism school in its current form. It will then give a full report of its findings to Moore within 60 days.

Moore then has 30 days to give DiStefano a full report, encompassing the exploratory committee and ARPAC findings. Sometime in early 2011, DiStefano will then make his recommendation to CU’s governing board, the Board of Regents.

Students will be able to ask questions about the discontinuance process on Tuesday, Sept. 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, Sept. 15 from noon to 2 p.m. in the University Memorial Center, Room 235.

The Denver Post social media editor Dan Petty believes, too, that it’s just not enough to teach the foundations –– story organization, interviewing, photo editing.

“Twitter was not in the mainstream lexicon one year, two years ago,” he said. “It’s more about digitalized media now.”

“(CU) has realized that they’ve got to prepare for this.”

Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at

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