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November 16, 2009: Collegiate parry and thrust — COC Dean, Signal Newspaper lock horns

parry and thrust

Dr. Floyd A. Moos, College of the Canyons Dean of Fine and Performing Arts, didn’t like the position The Signal took last month regarding the current state of journalism at the school’s new Media Entertainment Arts Department.

The Dean weighed in via a Nov. 15 letter to the editor, voicing his dissatisfaction over the newspaper’s characterization of COC’s “scaling back of the journalism program” following the shuttering of the student-published Canyon Call. The Signal’s election-themed editorial ran Oct. 18.

Here is Dr. Moos’ letter:

Statements in The Signal’s editorial (“COC’s board needs new ideas & fresh passion,” Oct. 18), demand an immediate response and a clarion call for clearer thinking.

The editorial board moralized: “What concerns us is the preservation of a program that teaches young people how to become competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers. The program is called ‘journalism.’”

In principle, I concur with the first part of the statement and in fact would assert that all college and university academic departments (and not solely journalism) be charged with the shared responsibility to produce “competent and qualified truth-seekers and truth-tellers.”

Ironically, The Signal’s editorial board did not fact-check with the college to see if what they wrote — “the scaling back of the journalism program” — was accurate or truthful.

Had they done their homework, they would have learned that the elements of effective reporting, the development of information-gathering and research skills, the principles of journalistic writing and the understanding of the need to uphold core ethics and journalistic decision-making requiring fairness, balance, accuracy, credibility are alive and well at College of the Canyons’ New Media Journalism program.

The second part of the statement: “The program (that produces future truth-seekers and tellers should be) called ‘journalism’” is at-best an old-fashioned notion:

Insisting that a program that emphasizes such important values as “truth-seekers and truth-tellers” be called Journalism is akin to contending that COC’s Institute of Culinary Education be housed in an academic department called Home Economics.

The evolution of Journalism into New Media Journalism will expand, not restrict, the journalistic opportunities for COC’s students and magnify the impact of the campus press in ways the paper version of the Canyon Call never could achieve.

The Signal defended itself thusly:

Editor’s note: Dr. Moos is wrong in assuming we did not talk to anyone at the college about what happened to the journalism program. The source to whom the college referred us confirmed that all 200-level journalism classes were canceled and said the program was folded into the Media Entertainment Arts Department. As working journalists, we do not consider journalism to be entertainment, and we believe the title “journalism” is important to distinguish truth-seeking and truth-telling from mass media entertainment messages. We agree with Dr. Moos that all academic departments should be concerned with truth-seeking and truth-telling, but it is journalism that is particularly charged with that task in the mass media world. We have no objection to the title “New Media Journalism,” though we sincerely believe predictions that print is dead are as wrong as were predictions that the advent of television would kill radio.

Click here for Dr. Moos’ Nov. 15 letter to The Signal editor, and the newspaper’s response.

Click here for The Signal’s original Oct. 18 editorial.

Number of days COC has been without a school newspaper: 85