Friday, November 6, 2009

Scholastic Journalism's Future

The Grand Forks Herald won a Pulitzer Prize a few years ago for its coverage of a flood in North Dakota that also destroyed the newspaper’s facilities and many of the reporters’ homes. In retrospect, the editor said the multi-faceted disaster tested what the staff was made of—and they discovered they were made of pretty good stuff.

Most people know the state’s teacher license proposal on top of other issues including the continuing challenge to journalism due to Core 40 have culminated into the perfect storm that has had Hoosier journalism educators in “disaster mode” most of the week.

Monday through Wednesday included a troubling public hearing and one bad E-mail after another as people from throughout the state shared concerns.

I’m not going to say that everything is fine now. Everyone is still worried about the future of scholastic journalism in Indiana, but we have moved from panic to action. We have joined forces to review the content of our teacher training and study the dynamics of the political process that may affect journalism programs.

IHSPA and our J-partners at the university level have contacted other organizations that are equally affected by this initiative, and we have shared information.

At this point we encourage people to check the link to the D.O.E. Web site and contact any members of the REPA Advisory Panel in your area before their November 18 meeting to share our concerns.

A major worry is that including journalism in the vocational/workplace/ occupational specialist license will end our effort to move journalism into a stronger academic position on the Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma grid to stop the drain
from many of the existing programs.

A second concern is that the goal to emphasize content might sacrifice the education classes that are also important. The result could be negative as new teachers go into classrooms and adviser positions without the combination of content and teaching skills they need to be most effective.

We hope to delay the November 18 action to provide more discussion and collaboration between all the parties involved, but we are already planning a coalition with media professionals, other organizations, former students and parents as we try to elevate the status of existing journalism programs and promote curricula in media literacy for all students.

This won’t be easy, but anyone who teachers journalism and advises publications didn’t choose the easy route in the first place. As an organization that has been around since 1922, we have survived other tough challenges.

Like the Grand Forks Herald staff—our people are made of pretty good stuff.

Professional Standards Board Members:

D.O.E. Web site REPA information:

Other relevant resources:

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