Sep 212010
Authors: Madeline Novey

As media consumers have become more tech-savvy, accessing information when and where they want it on phones, laptops and iPads, journalism schools have rushed to train the next
generation of media producers.

This comes at a time when newspapers and media entities across the country have been crippled under the strains of aging business models and struggled to train employees in multimedia production to remain relavent.

In line with national trends, CU-Boulder admnistrators announced on Aug. 25 that the university is considering a plan to discontinue its journalism in its current form and open a new program focused on the demands of the Information Age.

“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.

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.

Hypothetically, if CU’s SJMC doesn’t survive its transition to a more futuristic form, CSU’s leaders are unsure of what exactly it would mean for the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication.

But one thing Department Chair Greg Luft said he did know is that he would expect to have more interest in the program and hire more faculty as a result.

Hiring enough faculty to accommodate an influx of hundreds of extra students, though, would be a fiscal challenge as CSU’s journalism department sits “close to the middle of the pack” in terms of funding.

In fiscal year 2009-2010, the university allocated approximately $2.17 million to the department, which pays for salaries, equipment purchases and supplies, among other costs, Luft said.

For Dean Paul Voakes, the man charged with rejuvenating CU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Luft said there’s a tough road ahead, riddled with the challenges of funding and bringing faculty trained in traditional journalism up to speed.

“That would be a tough chore,” Luft said.

To stay relevant, Luft said CSU’s department has started faculty training on new software and social sites including:
* The Adobe Creative Suite 5 series,
* Microsoft Windows 7,
* Apple’s Final Cut Pro,
* Facebook,
* LinkedIn, and
* Twitter, among others.

Faculty, too, have attended one of the nation’s most acclaimed journalism training centers, Florida’s Poynter Institute.

This summer, professors Don Zimmerman and Pete Seel went to CSU’s administration and requested that the university purchase a contract with the training website, which offers more than 50,000 video tutorials on Apple and Microsoft programs to the Adobe Suite series and web design.

As of July 1, students can use their EID to log on to and access the tutorials.

Also as part of adapting to the evolving and fast-paced media industry, CSU’s journalism department will launch a new degree track this fall that will allow students to take classes based on their career of choice.

“Students are kind of creating their own degree,” Jamie Switzer, an associate journalism professor who helped create the new department track, said last month.

The idea is to have students graduate as multiplatform journalists able to communicate in more than one way –– through stories, photos, video, design and the web.

As part of the change, the department’s five concentrations –– news-editorial, computer-mediated communication, public relations, specialized and technical communication and television news and video communication –– will be eliminated and students will simply earn a degree in journalism.

Throughout the state, there are multiple journalism schools and programs –– CSU, CU and Metro State are among the largest. There are 113 accredited journalism programs throughout the country, according to a report on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications website.

Luft said that there are enough students and demand that there has never been a problem filling these programs.
“Whether it’s the best or the wisest thing to do, they have been full.”

Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at

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