Having written many headlines in long-ago days as a newspaper copy editor, I can somewhat sympathize with those who wrote headlines this week for stories about the impending transition of the CU-Boulder School of Journalism & Mass Communication. The story is complex and headlines are necessarily short, but too often it seems that the headlines of recent days have been of this ilk: “CU-Boulder takes steps to close journalism school” (Colorado Daily).
If that’s as far as you read (and for many a casual scanner of the day’s headlines, that’s probably the case), you’d have the impression that the SJMC is about to shut down. Not so.
As SJMC Dean Paul Voakes wrote on the School’s website yesterday: “Unfortunately, the nuances of academic bureaucracy have been lost (understandably!) on most headline writers.”
Voakes went further with a note today explaining the intricacies of the process that could end the SJMC in name but replace it with a modernized school appropriate to preparing and training the journalists of the digital age and providing them with a mix of necessary journalism and information-age skills and theory. He wrote:
“The most common question so far among both alums and current students is whether the CU SJMC degree will be devalued if the SJMC is ‘discontinued.’ I submit that its value will actually increase, because we’ve been given the opportunity to undergo a sweeping new upgrade in media education at the University of Colorado.”
Warming our hearts here at the Digital Media Test Kitchen, he went on:
“At the School, we‘ve moved into the brave new world of digital media, and we’re doing it well. Witness our new undergrad curriculum, our Digital Newsroom course, our Digital Media Test Kitchen, our Resolving Door course, and most importantly, Boulder Digital Works. We have a new master’s curriculum on the way, later this year.”
To those individuals who have written to me thinking that a SJMC shut-down is imminent, allow me to respond: Don’t panic! The future of journalism education — and especially the subset of digital media education as represented by the Test Kitchen and the other SJMC initiatives — is looking brighter here at CU-Boulder.