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

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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