Reporting still critical in era of new media

This month, a special committee at the University of Colorado begins examining what to do with the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. A “program discontinuance” has been initiated, although that doesn’t mean the programs will definitely be eliminated.

In an age when old-fashion newspapers have been closing frequently, and large numbers of people get their news from online blogs, broadcast pundits, Yahoo, Facebook and other electronic sources, some argue, an old-style journalism school may no longer make sense.

Forgive us for waving the newspaper banner, and for paraphrasing Mark Twain, but we believe reports of the imminent death of the newspaper industry are an exaggeration. Community newspapers, especially, continue to thrive in this country. Good reporting and writing remain a keystone of these newspapers.

Furthermore, it appears students still value a solid journalism program such as CU’s. The university has more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in its journalism school. This is not some minor program serving a handful of students that can readily be cut as a cost-cutting measure.

That’s not to say the J-school is perfect. Advisors to the school have faulted its “dysfunctional faculty” and suggested closing the school. Some have said parts of its curriculum should be folded into another department that focuses on the latest technology.

Certainly, every industry must keep up with technological changes. And any serious faculty problems need to be addressed.

But, whatever form news media assume in coming decades, the journalism skills of reporting and writing will be critical. No news source, Internet or otherwise, can survive without people who can accurately report on news events and present them in a reliable, understandable form. Colorado still needs a top-flight school teaching those skills at its flagship institution of higher education.


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