The School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumni are speaking up and speaking out about the proposed changes to the school.
A resonating theme shared among concerned alumni over the future of the J-School is that traditional values should be upheld as the university is looking toward the future.
Alumni of the SJMC were invited to participate in an open forum Tuesday night regarding the ongoing program discontinuance investigation. Questions and comments were presented to an exploratory committee, currently in the information-gathering stage of the process.
The phrase “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” was repeated by alumni in their expression that the good, especially conventional journalistic values, should remain as the changing field is being re-evaluated to better serve students and faculty.
“I am obviously very concerned with what is happening,” said Linda Shoemaker, a 1969 graduate, who has worked in news for 20 years as an editor and reporter. “There is the worry that journalism is dead, or dying, but it is critical for the traditional values of journalism to be incorporated in the journalism of the 21st century in order for citizens to be informed in our democracy.”
Included in the values that some said should remain, were the disciplines emphasized within the study of journalism.
“No other school teaches those disciplines,” said Steve Sander, a 1974 SJMC graduate. “Journalism is the foundation of a lot of other careers, and the basic skills required for many more careers are only taught in the journalism environment.”
Cameron Lewis, a 1983 graduate, highlighted the importance of skills learned within the academic discipline of journalism that should be strengthened and maintained, including integrity, diligence, respect, ethics, truth and justice.
“Journalists give a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves,” she said.
Others agreed that the foundation needs to stay strong, but the infrastructure of the program needs to change.
“The inside of the Armory needs to be re-gutted and re-modeled,” said Jeff Todd, a 2007 graduate said. “The answer might be keeping the foundation.”
Another issue a recent graduate raised was that the school has lost a lot of its driving spark in encouraging and engaging students, and that it needs to return as the school is under review to be revised and re-vamped.
“The journalism school has very much lost its soul and the fire in its heart is going out,” said Cameron Naish, a spring 2010 news-editorial major and former editor-in-chief of the CU Independent. “I challenge you to find [its soul].”
Some alumni said they are looking forward to the potential improvements that could be created.
“I am hopeful and optimistic that through this open process the right decisions will be made based upon imperatives of having strong educational opportunities for people,” said Rich Khleif, 2007 SJMC alum.
The open forums have resulted in good turn-outs, Sam Fitch, environmental studies faculty and member of the advisory board, said.
“There were pretty consistent comments about preserving the needs to protect traditional and core values,” Fitch said. “I am always pleased by how reasonable everyone is and people come in with well thought-out ideas.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Christine Larsen at Christine.email@example.com.