Sunday, February 26, 2006

Follow up at AEJMC?

Thanks again to all of you who attended the Rethinking Journalism Education Summit. I have to say putting it together and watching the ideas flowing and the people making connections was incredibly satisfying to me. I hope it's the beginning of something bigger.

I'll be in touch with JACC folks over the next few weeks to see if they want to do a second annual meeting in Morro Bay next year. But in the meantime I wanted to throw out the idea of planning some sort of follow-up at AEJMC. I assume at least some of you will be attending that meeting since it's in San Francisco this year. I wondered if we could book a meeting room and plan some sort of event -- either a social gathering (like the alumni socials that many of the schools host) or a more structured event. Does anyone know who is organizing the AEJMC meeting or how to arrange an AEJMC-related event?

Other things we could do to follow up:
* Create a listserv of CSU journalism/mass comm faculty. (My only hesitation is I'm already overwhelmed with email from the many listservs I'm on. I suspect many of you are similarly under e-mail attack.) We could just use this site to make announcements, just as I'm doing here.
* Have CSU schools host regional CSU/CC meetings to show off their departments and encourage communication and collaboration.
* Plan workshops to address specific issues that came up at the meeting -- accreditation, articulation, easing the transition for transfer students.
If you have any ideas, please post them here or drop me a line at

A non-objective article on objectivity

After posting my last piece, I realized that I had seen something several years back in CJR that was excellent on the topic of objectivity in journalism. (Note that I said it was excellent, therefore polluting any possibilties for this particular posting to be considered objective. So be it.)

While it's not up-to-the-minute timely, the points are well taken.

Here's the link:
  • Objectivity
  • On the topic of objectivity...

    The meeting on Rethinking Journalism Education was fascinating from a dozen different angles, but the posting about objectivity (and how relevant it might be in this whirlpool of new media) is something I'm seriously pondering.

    Frequently students ask me about the blogs that I write and ask me if I wrote a blog critical of, say, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (about whom I've written on a number of occasions) would the blogs disqualify me from writing a news story about him?

    I give them the best answer I have: It depends.

    Depends on how long ago I wrote the blog, what I wrote, what news organization it was, and so on.

    But I do think that the whole shield of objectivity we hold up - and ask our students to hold up - means less to the reading public than we think. It's a lot like the AP style we labor over, lecture on, give tests on, and about which we get into terrible arguments. Those people who still pick up their newspaper each morning don't really care that much if it's p.m., P.M. or PM - or o'clock for all that matter.

    So I'm rethinking how I will teach the next generation of students about objectivity in this brave not-so-new world of blogs and podcasts and streaming video.

    Blogging is another form of communication

    Since I no longer call myself a journalist, and decided on the way home from Morro Bay that I'm an informationist, I see blogging as another technology tool for communication. Bottom line, its an easy tool for posting information on a Web page. That is something people have been doing, who weren't journalists, since the early 90's. Since then we've had wonderfully informative and effective Websites while at the same time we've had inaccurate to fraudulent Websites. That is the double-sided nature of the Web. And users of the Web have been navigating through the good and the bad all this time. I trust that they will continue to do a reasonably good job in evaluating blogs.

    Over time bloggers are and will earn reputations for being good information sources or not. Those associated with traditional media should stand-out for the thoroughness, objectivity and professional aspects of their bogging.

    I would like to throw out one other idea for journalists to consider; that media users may not be that interested in objectivity. The Web makes it easy to find multiple angles and perspectives on information, so many sides of a story are readily available. True objectivity is pretty hard to come by, no matter how honorably one tries so I'd rather get an insightful viewpoint that makes me think. As a media consumer, blogs give me access to alot more people's viewpoints, from experts to flaks. That gives me choices and, thus, more control over the information I receive. And that is what many Americans are demonstrating they want as exemplified through the growing popularity of iPods and TIVO.

    Blogging, Part II

    This is in response somewhat to Rich Cameron's previous post about blogging. One of the things we talk about in my editing and ethics class is the difference between bloggers in general and journalists as bloggers. The difference, of course, is that journalists who blog have an obligation to follow the norms of journalism -- primarily, a dedication to reporting verified information accurately. What I worry about is how will Internet users distinguish between those who observe a discipline of verification, and those who just spout off? I think this is why we, as journalism teachers, find it difficult to get too excited about blogging as a useful journalistic tool.

    I saw a quote (on another blog no less) that said something to the effect that blogging is to journalism what Wikipedia is to encyclopedias: It's somebody's 2 cents worth that must be taken with a grain of salt. Wish I could remember where I saw that so that I could properly credit it.

    Reinventing CSU Journalism Curriculum

    Anyone who would like to view the material from my Friday 2pm session about my visits to four journalism schools can start here. Tell me what you think by emailing me.

    Blog or Blah-g

    One of the items that is most often mentioned as something we need to incorporate into our newswriting courses is blogging. Certainly, we've seen a lot of publicity in the last couple of years about the growth of the blog as a journalism tool. Personally, I have trouble as a consumer getting excited about blogging. But then again, I'm an old white male with grey in my beard.

    I suspect the rest of us have trouble with blogs, too. It is more of a blah-g. We don't care and certainly don't want to take the time to learn. Take this blog as an example. Clearly the best time to blog impressions about issues immediatley after the conference while they are fresh in our minds, before we get to the workaday world and other issues get in the way.

    Twenty-four hours later (or a little more) after this blog has started there has been little participation by invitees.

    And by the way, as a consumer, I'm more excited about podcasting. But as a practitioner I'm a dinosaur.

    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    One of the great values

    Once again one of the great values of this summit was the opportunity for the community college faculty to interact with the CSU faculty and learn more about their programs and for them to learn more about our programs. It is such a shame so many of the CSU folks are not able to stick around for some of the Saturday workshops and that more of the community college folks were unable to attend Thursday night/all day Friday. I know from other meetings I've participated in that journalism is miles ahead of most disciplines in this cross communication, but we community college folks could benfit from more interaction with more of the CSU faculty in the trenches.

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    An Introduction to this Site

    Rethinking Journalism Education: Preparing Journalists for the 21st Century is an initiative to ensure that journalism education reflects and anticipates changes in the media industry.

    It began with a summit of journalism educators in the California State University and California Community College systems on Feb. 23-24, 2006 in Morro Bay, Calif. Nearly 70 journalism educators from more then 30 schools attended the summit, which was funded by a grant from the CSU Institute for Teaching and Learning and co-sponsored by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.

    For more information and coverage of the meeting click here

    Proposed outcomes of the summit:

    * To promote communication and collaboration among journalism educators in the CSU and community colleges
    * To bring journalism educators in the CSU and community college system together to talk about how best to prepare the next generation of journalists
    * To educate journalism educators about the shifting media landscape
    * To help journalism educators plan curricula to respond to changes in the field
    * To seek, share and discuss innovative approaches to teaching journalism
    * To begin a dialogue about journalism education that can continue in the form of listserv discussions, collaborative research and future meetings.

    This blogspot was created with those objectives in mind. Participants and observers can post reflections on the conference and on the issues it raised.

    We look forward to a lively conversation.
    -- Rachele Kanigel and Timi Poeppelman
    Summit Organizers