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Posts from — September 2009

September 30, 2009: “When you take away a school newspaper, you take away the voice of the student. One of the main reasons this is a free country is freedom of the press.”

Taking it to the streets to save the Canyon Call

That’s the voice of Joshua Adam Sanchez, who signed the online petition to save the Canyon Call, the student newspaper of College of the Canyons.

Over the summer, school administrators eliminated the newspaper due to what they characterized as budget cuts. As a result, the 25,000 students who attend COC no longer have a legitimate opportunity for a First Amendment voice on campus.

Other concerned citizens weighed in via the online petition:

Eric Scott wrote: “Please reconsider closing this department. The Canyon Call is a very important creative outlet for many students.”

Sheryl Gross wrote: “My daughter is a local high school student who wants to study journalism in college. This will probably make or break her decision to start at COC.”

Jeanne Geidel-Neal wrote: “Yes, bring back the Canyon Call! It has not been a paper for the masses, but for the students and locals who are interested in what is happening in our neighborhood college. Fine, have online access, but put the paper in front of people on campus. It was a great paper and I support wholeheartedly getting back in physical form for the students and alumni.”

Christina Schaefer wrote: “Like my journalism teacher said, budget cuts should not be an excuse to silence the student voice.”

Please take a few moments to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call. And while you’re at it, voice your opinion to one of the school administrators listed on the left-hand side of this web site.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 38

September 29, 2009   Comments Off

September 28, 2009: The Watering Down of Journalism at COC

Journalists Bob Woodward (right) and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Journalists Bob Woodward (right) and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post. (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

On Sept. 25, a representative from the coalition to save the Canyon Call met with College of the Canyons Media Entertainment Arts Department Chair David Brill to discuss the formation of MEA and the recently accepted proposal for an Associate in Arts Degree in New Media Journalism.

Brill provided a list of the 12 general courses and three electives that can be taken in various combinations to fulfill the 26.5 units required under the major. Here are the 12 general courses:

MEA 110 — Writing for Journalism and New Media (3.0 units)

MEA 111 — Exploring Video Field Production (2.0 units)

MEA 112 — Exploring Video Studio Production (2.0 units)

MEA 113 — Exploring Online Media Communication (2.0 units)

MEA 116 — Digital Video Editing I (2.0 units)

MEA 119 — Announcing and Media Performance (2.0 units)

MEA 120 — Introduction to Cinematography I (2.0 units)

MEA 125 — News Reporting and Anchoring (3.0 units)

MEA 100 — Mass Media Communications (3.0 units)

MEA 103 — Exploring Contemporary Television (3.0 units)

COMS 105 — Fundamentals of Public Speaking (3.0 units)

MEA 225 — Advanced News Media Production (3.0 units)

Brill said that Media Entertainment Arts “was formed to meet the challenges of the times.” It’s clear the degree program places strong emphasis on broadcast and should go a long way toward preparing students for a career in that industry. Brill should be commended for his hard work in this regard.

However, the coalition feels that without journalism classes that specifically support a printed campus newspaper like the Canyon Call, there is insufficient classroom emphasis placed on the fundamentals of journalism in the New Media Journalism degree program. More to the point, the Student Learning Outcomes do not meet established standards of journalism.

With the exception of MEA 110 (Writing for Journalism and New Media) and possibly MEA 225 (Advanced News Media Production), the overall degree program represents a “watering down” of journalism and does not provide enough of what journalism students need to know to succeed outside of the college. The emphasis on writing and copyediting in the classroom is simply insufficient.

Saving the Canyon Call really amounts to saving journalism at COC. This is the core reason behind the formation of this coalition and the creation of this web site. The transition to Media Entertainment Arts, while well intended, does not appear to offer journalism students enough basics of the trade.

That’s a big problem for the college, its administrators and especially its students.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 36

September 27, 2009   Comments Off

September 26, 2009: Let’s See Who Cares

Pete Townshend

Today this web site will take a break from the usual rhetoric to offer a Rock ‘n Roll history lesson, which is a vastly more enjoyable way of imparting rhetoric and, hopefully for readers of this blog, a more palatable way of digesting it as well.

In 1971, The Who released a single in the UK entitled “Let’s See Action,” a song that guitarist Pete Townshend described as being “about the people who act in a revolution and the people that sit back.”

According to Townshend, the song was intended for The Who’s influential “Who’s Next” album, but the band couldn’t come to an agreement on that, so Townshend instead released the song a year later on “Who Came First,” his first major-label solo album. One dollar from the sale of each album went to various charities.

The song’s powerful verse reads like this:

Let’s see action, let’s see people,

Let’s see freedom up in the air,

Let’s see action, let’s see people,

Let’s be free, let’s see who cares.

That’s it for the history lesson. Now it’s time to see who cares. Over the summer, College of the Canyons administration axed the award-winning student newspaper the Canyon Call, the school’s 40-year-old vehicle of First Amendment free speech and foundation for campus communication … and it sailed off into the sunset without so much as a whimper.

The college is in the process of creating a new Media Entertainment Arts division out of the old Radio/TV/Film Department and the spare parts left over from the breakup of the Journalism Department. It’s the way of the world, there’s no turning back, and we get it. Really.

MEA students are now writing news stories and shooting photographs for an online publication called Cougar News. Again, great news and a positive step.

The coalition sponsoring this web site believes a printed version of campus newspaper needs to be a part of the new division’s curriculum. A newspaper gives the 25,000 students who attend COC a sense of community and provides the school with an archival record for future generations.

So, let’s see who cares. Consider taking a brief moment to send a note to any one of the school administrators listed on the left-hand column of this web site. We’re sure they’d love to hear from you. You can also join the legions of concerned citizens who have signed the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Click here to see a “Let’s See Action” video.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 34

September 26, 2009   Comments Off

September 25, 2009: This web site is throwing in the towel … sort of


That’s it. We’re done.

After more than two weeks of banging our head against the wall trying to get College of the Canyons administration to realize that their decision to kill the Canyon Call was not in the best interest of the school, its students or the community, we give up.

We can take a hint. To quote the Grateful Dead, perhaps the greatest pragmatists of the previous generation, “Even a blind man knows when the sun is shining.”

The fact is, Media Entertainment Arts, a new division at COC that is expected to replace the current Radio/TV/Film program, has swallowed up what’s left of the college’s Journalism program. We get it. There’s no turning back from that.

So, going forward, the focus of this web site will shift away from antagonizing the wagon-circling administrators who pulled the plug on a 40-year-old, student-run instrument of free speech.

Instead, this coalition will work toward finding a way to incorporate a print version of the Canyon Call into MEA’s overall curriculum. That’s because the rudiments of college journalism — which include a basic news-writing course and a student newspaper course — bear considerable weight on transfer to a four-year institution and should therefore be included in the overall curriculum. Simply having broadcast and new media classes won’t cut it. Students need to learn the fundamentals of journalism.

Here’s some reasoning to kick off this new campaign, courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top source of news, information and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators.

A recent story in The Chronicle emphasized the role print journalism must play in any college or university’s new media program.

Ari L. Goldman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, says basic skills like accuracy and fairness are more important than ever at a time when inexperienced reporters are rushing to post news updates on the Web, often with little editorial oversight.

“I don’t want us to lose focus on the standards of good journalism in our rush to embrace all the latest technology,” says Mr. Goldman, who wrote for The New York Times for 20 years. “I want to give students a consciousness that there’s a need to be thorough and not just be first — to consider the importance of fact-checking, copy editing, spelling and grammar, and to make sure they are armed with all those tools as they write and put things on the Web.”

Barbara B. Hines, director of Howard University’s graduate program in mass communication and media studies, says journalism professors are struggling to integrate constantly changing multimedia skills into already jammed curricula without sacrificing attention to the nuts and bolts of good journalism.

If technology is overemphasized, she says, “students will be whizzes at singing and dancing and making the equipment work, but they may not understand why zoning is important in a community, or how a city council functions.”

Michael J. Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, agrees.

“Many journalism schools, to please industry, started creating courses that were merely about presentation, and they forgot about content,” says Mr. Bugeja, who would rather see most technological training take place on the job. “Too often, when the technology is overemphasized in the curriculum, it gives the impression that you can do journalism sitting down in your pajamas,” he says. “You can’t do that.” To become good journalists, he argues, students need to get out into the field and spend time with their sources.

There is a proper and much-needed place for print journalism in COC’s newly created Media Entertainment Arts division. In the days and weeks ahead, we intend to demonstrate precisely why. In the meantime, get involved in this campaign by choosing an administrator from the left-hand side of this blog and voicing your opinion as to why the Canyon Call must be reinstated at College of the Canyons.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 33

September 24, 2009   Comments Off

September 24, 2009: Stick a fork in the Canyon Call. It’s done.


That was the stark reality to emerge from a front-page story in the Sept. 22, 2009 edition of The Signal entitled “Students protest newspaper’s demise — COC officials move ahead with new media division.”

Signal staff writer Tammy Marashlian summed it up this way in her lead paragraph: “College of the Canyons’ decision to eliminate the print version of its student newspaper, replace it with a Web site and change the makeup of the journalism program has drawn the ire of current and former students.”

Marashlian reported that in August, COC officials canceled five journalism classes and put the award-winning student newspaper on hiatus, citing low enrollment. In addition, she wrote that the changes imposed by COC’s administration reportedly represent a transition into the college’s Media Entertainment Arts, a new division that is expected to replace the current Radio/TV/Film program. According to COC officials, the shift to an online-only product was intended to provide students with what they characterized as an “up-to-date journalism education.”

David Brill, Media Entertainment Arts and Radio/TV/Film instructor at the college, recently received approval of curriculum for a New Media Journalism Degree. According to the Signal story, pending state approval, students can earn an Associate in Arts Degree in New Media Journalism beginning in fall 2010. Brill advised this web site that his department was “in the infant stages of restoring an online campus publication at College of the Canyons,” saying that students are now photographing and writing stories published at cougarnews.wordpress.com.

Brill went on to tell this web site the following: “I believe in campus and local news. I am committed to it, and I firmly believe that our new website when complete will be something we can all be proud of.”

The Canyon Call has never had an online component, so Cougar News is certainly a positive step in this regard. However, the coalition sponsoring this web site believes there is a place in Media Entertainment Arts for all forms of media to work hand-in-hand, and this includes a print version of the Canyon Call.

A representative from the coalition intends to meet with Brill in the next few days to learn more about the curriculum and how a print version of the Canyon Call might be considered as a component in the transition to New Media Journalism.

Click here for the full Signal story.

Click here to go to Cougar News.

Click here to sign the online petition to bring back the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 32

September 23, 2009   Comments Off

September 22, 2009: “Silencing students by canceling the student newspaper is never an idea that ends well.”


Those are the words of Toni Albertson, Journalism professor at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and advisor to the Mountaineer, the school’s student newspaper. Albertson is also advisor to the Mountaineer’s online component, Mountiewire.com. Professor Albertson signed the online petition to save the Canyon Call, the student newspaper of College of the Canyons. She concluded her online post by offering the following advice to COC’s administration and board of trustees: “Please reconsider this very bad decision.”

Joanna Miller is a Journalism professor at Moorpark College. Miller serves as advisor to the Student Voice, the district-wide student newspaper of the Ventura County Community College District. The Student Voice was established in the fall semester of 2005 to replace the student newspapers of Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges, which were axed due to budget cuts. Miller signed the online petition and offered the following comments: “Dear Board of Trustees: Please consider the long-term effects of a campus the size of COC without a student news media. If we are to mean what we say about encouraging our students to be responsible members of our democratic society, then we need to instill in them a desire to be informed about their campus and community. A campus student news media is essential to this purpose, which is part of the core mission of California Community Colleges. Thank you.”

Jim Burns is a former adviser to the Canyon Call and current adviser to the Examiner, the student newspaper of Antelope Valley College. Burns posted the following comment on the online petition: “I am deeply committed to journalism education and the First Amendment. Please reinstate the Canyon Call, so that the campus will have its voice back.”

Mike Eskew is a Professor of Journalism and English at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga and an advisor to The Breeze, the college’s student newspaper. Eskew posted these words to the online petition: “Please keep the program. The journalism picture is not nearly as bleak as many predict. There will always be the need in America for ones who fairly and responsibly report the news (at a community college and nationally) to the public for their protection and evaluation.”

The online petition continues to receive support from educators across the state who understand the importance of allowing students the means of expressing a First Amendment voice on campus. Sign the online petition today. We must bring back the Canyon Call to College of the Canyons.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 30

September 21, 2009   Comments Off

September 18, 2009: COC’s Photography Chair Checks In

COC Student Behind the Camera

This web site received an email from Professor Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, Department Chair of Photography at College of the Canyons.

According to COC’s web site, Brill-Wynkoop, a Southern California native, brings to the college “a wealth of experience in art, photography and graphic design, along with an intense knowledge of technology in the arts.”

Brill-Wynkoop offered the following perspective: “I have read through your articles posted on this site and I think you are correct, the discipline of journalism has a place in community colleges. However I do believe, that the digital revolution has brought many changes to the programs in the media arts (photo, RTVF, journalism, graphics, etc.) that need to be considered. Programs need to adopt to change in order to survive. The future of the news does not lie in the printed page. Hopefully in the future the Canyon Call will rise again in a green and modern online format that is accessible to all.”

The coalition of concerned students, educators, journalists and private citizens who are attempting to save the Canyon Call believes there is a place for a printed version of the newspaper in whatever new-media form the Journalism Department takes.

A printed version of the Canyon Call gives the campus a sense of community and provides a historical document for future generations of students, educators and administrators.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 26

September 17, 2009   Comments Off

September 17, 2009: Online Petition Drive Gains Steam

Sign the Petition

Word is out that College of the Canyons administration has shuttered the Canyon Call, a 40-year-old instrument of on-campus student free speech. Here are some of the most recent posts to the petition:

Genelle Belmas, Ph.D. — “Community college journalism is essential to educating the next generation of reporters, who are in turn essential for a successful self-governing democracy. Please bring back the Call.”

James Meier — “Newspapers are still extremely important teaching tools for journalism as well as many other fields to create well-rounded individuals.”

Dianne Heimer — “As a college faculty newspaper adviser, I urge you to reinstate the journalism program so your students can learn one of the most important tenets of higher education: how media inform citizens in a democracy.”

Please sign the online petition today and let your voice be heard.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 25

September 17, 2009   Comments Off

September 16, 2009: “When you balance the cost of a college newspaper against the service it provides the school, students and community, it is a bargain.”

Photo Courtesy of Humboldt State University

Photo Courtesy of Humboldt State University

Those words were written by Marcy Burstiner, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.

Burstiner signed the online petition to save the College of the Canyons Journalism Department and its school newspaper, the Canyon Call, from extinction.

She went on to say that student newspapers do more than serve as a vehicle to teach a few students journalism.

“The newspapers give students opportunities in college to develop a sense of professionalism; to delve into multiple perspectives; and to serve as a voice and forum for a wider community,” Burstiner said. “As a journalism professor at Humboldt State, I have seen many of my best students come up from the community college level. Papers like the Canyon Call give students at the junior college level a fantastic opportunity to grow and challenge themselves.”

Click here to go to the online edition of Humboldt State’s student newspaper, The Lumberjack.

Click here to sign the online petition to save the Canyon Call.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 24

September 15, 2009   1 Comment

September 15, 2009: In Memory of Brian Kemp

Former Canyon Call staff photographer Brian Kemp (Photo Courtesy of The Signal)

Former Canyon Call staff photographer Brian Kemp (Photo Courtesy of The Signal)

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of our own. Former Canyon Call staff photographer Brian Cooper Kemp died Sept. 7 in Cokercreek, Tenn., just four days shy of his 37th birthday.

According to an obituary that appeared Sept. 13 in The Signal, Kemp succumbed to complications suffered from a February 1996 car accident.

Kemp was born on Sept. 11, 1972 in Los Angeles and was a graduate of Saugus High School. He earned two Associate in Arts degrees from College of the Canyons, one in Photography and the other in Journalism, and was a mainstay at the Canyon Call.

Jim Ruebsamen, retired Chair of COC’s Journalism Department, told this web site that Brian was aware of his problems, but did not let them stand in the way of getting his education.

“He was slowed by his afflictions, but he would never quit,” Ruebsamen said. “He was a gentle and very clever, smart man who always tried to be helpful in and out of class. He often offered help to other writers and photographers at the Canyon Call. As students got to know Brian, they were sometimes amazed at what he could accomplish.”

Former Signal photo editor Bryan Kneiding worked alongside Kemp at the Canyon Call several years ago. Kneiding said he hadn’t run into Kemp in a few years, but every time they encountered each other at a game or community event around the Santa Clarita Valley, they would catch up and talk shop.

“Brian is an inspiration to me and to those who got to know him,” Kneiding told this web site. “He was an example of how to persevere no matter what obstacles might come your way and to enjoy life, friends and family. I will miss him dearly.”

The obstacles Kneiding spoke of were the limitations imposed on Kemp by the automobile accident he was involved in more than 13 years ago. Despite the daily challenges Kemp faced, he found refuge at the Canyon Call, where he was able to explore his creative potential behind the lens of a camera.

Sadly, this type of opportunity no longer exists at College of the Canyons. Just prior to the start of the fall 2009 semester, COC administration eliminated the campus newspaper along with the five journalism classes that support it.

Kemp’s family will hold a memorial service Oct. 24 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Canyon Country.

Rest in peace, Brian.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 23

September 14, 2009   Comments Off