CU closes J-School, SPJ Colorado responds
The SPJ Colorado Pro Board of Directors has over the past months advocated for University of Colorado Regents to keep the journalism school. Below is a press release following the regents’ vote to close it.
14 April 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The board of the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists responded with disappointment in the University of Colorado Board of Regents’ 5-4 vote today to close the university’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The board previously urged the university to consider strengthening its journalism program, rather than discontinuing it.
“Our position has been that university officials need to ensure their commitment to teaching the basics of reporting, photography and storytelling,” said SPJ Colorado President Cara DeGette. “Today we reiterate: The need has never been greater for a vibrant and vigilant press. As journalism programs evolve with new delivery methods and online and other technologies, it’s critical that they continue to emphasize reporting skills and ethical standards. The principles of fairness and objectivity, and the journalist’s role as a watchdog of government and industry, remain integral to a well-informed electorate and a thriving democracy.”
The Society of Professional Journalists is the oldest organization in the nation designed to protect and support journalists and their roles advancing the First Amendment, serving as watchdogs over government and business, and championing justice.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at CU has roots dating back 101 years and has turned out some of the best and brightest journalists in the country. It is currently one of 113 in the nation that holds an accredited journalism program. That accreditation is in jeopardy with the current plan to make journalism only a minor, or to be coupled with another degree.
As stated on the School of Journalism’s own website: “The importance of the media and their messages is growing at an unprecedented rate.”
“Journalists often are the only watchdog at all levels of government to guarantee that the public’s business is done in public,” said Doug Bell, an SPJ Colorado board member. “Now more than ever we need journalism graduates who are well-schooled in open meetings and open records laws to ensure that citizens have continued access to the people who make decisions that affect their lives.”
Noted board secretary Dennis Huspeni, a CU J-school graduate: “I’m saddened that future CU students will not have an opportunity to earn a journalism degree from this institution of higher learning. That degree on my resume has gotten me jobs at several Colorado newspapers and opened the door of opportunity to sustain a 21-year career as a working journalist.”
The board urges citizens to let their voices be heard about the regents’ decision. A link to their contact information is here: www.cu.edu/regents/RgntsPUB0101.html.
To urge the CU administration to encourage university programs to remain highly committed to teaching the basic tenets of reporting and storytelling, contact them here: www.colorado.edu/administration.
For more information, contact SPJ Colorado President Cara DeGette at firstname.lastname@example.org
SPJ Colorado supports Overland HS students
Board sends letter to Cherry Creek Schools superintendent, school board
SPJ fights for First Amendment rights for journalists of all ages, so when the board heard about the incident involving the school newspaper at Overland High School in Aurora, board members took action.
In short, the school’s principal fired the newspaper’s adviser after refusing to run a story students had written about a fellow student’s death. The principal halted production of the newspaper for the remainder of the school year. To read a full account by the Student Press Law Center, visit http://www.splc.org/news/newsflash.asp?id=2205.
SPJ Colorado President Cara DeGette attended the students’ press conference last week and led the SPJ Colorado Board in drafting a letter to the school board and superintendent denouncing the events that took place.
“It is our board’s position that the news article in question be published in the Scout and that the students be allowed to publish all planned upcoming issues of their newspaper,” reads the letter. “We also support the immediate reinstatement of the newspaper adviser, and the halting of Mr. Lundie’s practice of prior publication review of all Scout stories.”
To download a copy of the letter, click the link below.
SPJ advocates for journalism ethics in CU J-School changes
The SPJ Colorado Pro board has sent a letter to the University of Colorado expressing a desire to be involved in any changes to the school’s journalism program. Please see the letter below.
Oct. 20, 2010
Merrill Lessley, Chair
Information, Communication and Technology Exploratory Committee
University of Colorado Boulder
Dear Mr. Lessley and board members,
We are writing as journalists, employers and educators who are deeply vested in the quality of journalism in Colorado and beyond.
We are interested to learn more about the University of Colorado’s decision to alter its journalism program, and the decision-making factors involved. As CU considers the future of this program, we are available for consultation as a globally respected professional association.
We understand that colleges and universities are facing an enormous challenge as they work to ensure their journalism programs stay relevant and keep pace with rapidly advancing technology. We understand that society’s consumption of important information is in flux alongside that technology.
Successful media employers today look for journalism students who have mastered a variety of high-tech delivery methods in addition to learning the basics of reporting, photography and storytelling.
The Society of Professional Journalists shares with higher education the charge to nurture journalistic excellence. SPJ exists to protect and advance ethical journalism, which has historically been a keystone of democracy and an important tenet of a free society. SPJ encourages university programs to remain highly committed to teaching the basic tenets of reporting and storytelling. Students still need a basic and thorough grounding in objectivity, fairness, ethics and media law.
The need has never been greater for a vibrant and vigilant press. As journalism programs add more courses in technology and delivery methods, it’s critical that they continue to emphasize reporting skills and ethical standards. The principles of fairness and objectivity, and the journalist’s role as a watchdog of government and industry, remain integral to a well-informed electorate and a thriving democracy.
We look forward to assisting CU during this transition, and would be available to meet for further discussion. Please feel to contact SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter President Cara DeGette at 720-979-4385 to schedule a meeting.
As a matter of full disclosure, we should note that one of our board members, Sandra Fish, is currently employed by the University of Colorado; however she has recused herself from participating in any discussion and actions taken on this matter.
The Board of Directors,
Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Pro Chapter
SPJ Colorado Board takes action after reporter banned from public meeting
Original letter to the Adams County School District 50 Board of Education
Adams County School District 50
Vicky Marshall, Board President, Marge Rinaldi, Marilyn Flachman, Sharon Whitehair, Kevin Massey
Dear Ms. Marshall and the board of Adams County School District 50,
We are writing today to express concern about the recent controversy over an Adams County School District 50 administrative decision to deny access to a reporter attempting to cover a meeting about district business.
As detailed in a Jan. 21 editorial in the MetroNorth newspaper, reporter Caroline Kipp was refused entrance to a meeting of a school board-appointed committee that gathered to discuss district-related business. As the editorial noted, state statute specifies that such meetings should be open to the public, including the press.
The Society of Professional Journalists, founded in 1909, is the nation’s oldest organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of journalists and working to protect First Amendment guarantees free speech and the press. As elected representatives, it is your duty to ensure that journalists and the public have full access to observe and report on meetings involving the public’s business.
We strongly urge the board to ensure that future meetings of board-appointed committees are held in open and accountable forums to ensure public accountability. As such, we are requesting the a copy of the school district policy that establishes guidelines for its board-appointed committees.
As a matter of full disclosure, we should note that the reporter involved in the specific issue that sparked this inquiry is also a board member of the Colorado Pro Chapter of SPJ; however she was not involved in our decision to act on this matter.
We look forward to your prompt response.
The Board of Directors,
Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Pro Chapter
Sent via e-mail
Response from Adams County School District 50
Our board policies may be found at www.boarddocs.com/co/acsd50/Board.nsf<http://www.boarddocs.com/co/acsd50/Board.nsf>
Enter the public site and select “policies” from the menu across the top of the page.
Our attorney held a different opinion from yours in that the committee in question was not serving in an advisory capacity to the Board – but was making recomendations to the Superintendent.
Board President, Adams County School District 50
Thank you for your response. I am seeking clarification on which specific board governance policy you are applying to the committee that was meeting to make its recommendations to the superintendent. If you could direct me to the appropriate policy, I will share it with the rest of our board.