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Published:January 21st, 2006 06:04 EST
DIRECTOR'S MEMO: by Thomas Hodson...Director, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

DIRECTOR'S MEMO: by Thomas Hodson...Director, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

The state of journalism in this country is in transition. Some long-established journalism venues, such as mainstream newspapers and TV network news, continue to suffer in the marketplace, while online journalism, multimedia storytelling, and alternative forms of reporting are on the rise.

Additionally, citizens are becoming more involved in the gathering, editing, and production of their own news. The Internet is replete with bloggers and podcasters. Even for some mass media, “objectivity” is irrelevant and news is presented with a single philosophical or political bent. This shifting journalistic landscape is difficult to chart and navigate.

As a result, journalism educators across the country are trying to determine how to alter the educational product to meet pressing needs and to set the course for the future of the profession. However, both educators and professionals are continuing to advocate for and clinging to the basics – extensive thorough reporting, balanced writing and fair presentation, the proper use of language, and news tempered with solid ethical values.

Those are often the principles that differentiate professional journalists from others dabbling in our profession. In this environment, the Scripps School and its faculty spent this past year trying to develop a strategic plan not only to meet the current needs of journalism education but also to help industry professionals predict future media trends.

The plan is not a static document but instead is a blueprint for development. We started by determining what programs across the nation are our competitors for students, resources and rankings. Then we determined in what areas we do a better job than our competitors. We found the quality of our students is high. Also, our freshman program is superior to most, and we do a great job in internships and job placement of our students.

Scripps also does a tremendous job of educating a relatively large number of students with fewer full-time faculty members than our competitors. That is a tribute to the productivity of our faculty.

Additionally, our faculty and graduate students excel in academic productivity — from editing some of the top research journals in our field to, collectively, being among the 10 most productive research schools at annual conferences of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. So, in short, Scripps either exceeds or is comparable to our competitors.

Then what can we improve to elevate our national status and to provide better education for our students? We think the answer is to add new, specialized programs to give our students opportunities beyond the traditional basics of journalism. A large segment of the strategic plan concentrates on new programming. Groundwork has been laid to develop a multimedia program along with the schools of Visual Communication and Telecommunications. We also have been working with “VisCom” and the College of Business to develop a media-management graduate degree for journalism and visual professionals.

Partnerships, however, extend beyond campus. The Scripps Howard Foundation generously continues to be our partner. Additionally, the Scripps School is actively seeking to join with corporations and foundations to expand our academic offerings.

This is truly an exciting time to be involved in journalism education, and the E. W. Scripps School of journalism stands on the precipice of change while still clinging to traditional and lasting values of journalistic excellence. We appreciate the ideas that our alumni already have given us and encourage more alumni to help support us with your suggestions, your time, and your resources. Please send your ideas to me via e-mail: