Perspectives in Journalism

March 7, 2009

Educational Development in the UAE

Filed under: Education — willnortonjr @ 8:17 pm

On February 28 I returned from my second visit to the United Arab Emirates. I was astonished at the educational development that I observed since my first visit in March 2004.

Will Norton stands with team members after lunch during an accreditation review in 2004:  Norton; Tom Kunkle, former dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism; Richard Cole, former Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a commissioner of the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, United Arab Emirates.  The Burg Al Arab hotel is in the background.

Will Norton stands with team members after lunch during an accreditation review in 2004: Norton; Tom Kunkle, former dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism; Richard Cole, former Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a commissioner of the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, United Arab Emirates. The Burg Al Arab hotel is in the background.

On this visit I observed the early accomplishments of the American University in the Emirates. It was licensed as a two-year college and is pursuing a four-year licensure. We met new faculty who are experienced journalists, active columnists in several newspapers across the Middle East and Northeast Africa and television personalities.

After three days, we visited American university of Sharjah, a university that had only 1,000 students in 2004. Today it has more than 5,000 students and a productive faculty of experienced media professionals who hold the requisite graduate degrees.

Progressive rulers can provide exceptional opportunities for broad liberal arts education and serious professional preparation. It is heartwarming to note the understanding and insights of bright young students who understand the importance of preparation of professionals for work in the media.

It encourages one to believe that professional media education can be a crucial building block in building freedom.

There are six institutions licensed by the Ministry that offer accredited programs in media/communications: Abu Dhabi University, Ajman University of Science and Technology, AUE, AUS, American University in Dubai, and University of Sharjah. Slightly more than 2400 students are enrolled in these programs; about 75 percent are female. University of Sharjah is the largest. The Commission for Academic Accreditation’s records show 1070 students enrolled in Fall 2008 and 31 faculty in the College of Communication. AUS is second largest. Ajman University of Science and Technology and American University of Dubai also have more than 300 students in the major. The other two programs, including AUE’s that we visited, are very small.

Fifty-seven universities are licensed by the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the United Arab Emirates, and the number keeps increasing as more organizations successfully apply for official recognition.

Three federal universities have been established. These institutions do not charge tuition.

About 20 or so additional institutions operate without licenses in the “Education Free Zones”; institutions in those zones may operate without Ministry licenses (though some, like AUE, choose to do so) but they are subject to whatever regulation that the Free Zone authority imposes. In Dubai that is the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, part of the Dubai Government.

Will Norton stands with the Jumeirah Beach Hotel behind him during a visit in March 2004.  The 600-room hotel offers grand views of the Arabian Gulf.

Will Norton stands with the Jumeirah Beach Hotel behind him during a visit in March 2004. The 600-room hotel offers grand views of the Arabian Gulf.

Among these is Michigan State which basically offers a Michigan State faculty education in the U.A.E. The experiment is relatively new, in its first year. Whether it will succeed is an interesting question. George Mason is ending its operation in the Emirates.

Of the 57, the range is from two-year, degree-granting institutions to graduate-only programs. The majority are four-year comprehensive universities. Engineering and business institutions are more popular.

The high end of the tuition is slightly less than $15,000.

Institutions that the ministry licenses are expected to meet minimum standards — an acceptable level of quality: facilities available and quality resources. In other words, among licensed institutions, any diploma mill-type of university does not exist.

There are at least three institutions that have received U.S. regional accreditation and several have U.S. professional accreditation. That type of double recognition enhances opportunities for students who wish to pursue graduate education in the U.S.

The commission was slated in 2000 by the Ministry of Higher Education as a result of the growth of education in the U.A.E. Institutions were licensed, beginning in 2001; 350 academic programs were accredited.

Some might say the commission is quite prescriptive. However, U.A.E is a place where family values are practiced. Parents watch their children’s progress carefully. Because of the diversity of institutions and the need to guarantee quality education, the commission adopted strict standards. Perhaps those strict standards have resulted in the great progress that was evident to us during the last week of February.

Despite some commonalities, there are many differences between our two nations. Weather is not the least. When I landed in Lincoln the temperature was below freezing and a fresh layer of snow had fallen overnight. In Dubai it already was summer, the highest February temperature ever recorded, 37 Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit) plus a sandstorm.

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February 27, 2009

Newspapers are doing better than it appears

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 6:59 pm
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The newspaper business is doing better than it would appear.  It is the stewardship of the business that is in question.

Small dailies and weeklies are thriving and setting an example of the need to be careful how much an organization borrows in order to expand. 

Moreover, tax law has seriously affected newspapers.  If you borrow, you can avoid paying high taxes and you can build corporate equity.

 In other words, there are problems in the newspaper industry, but many of the problems are the result of tax law.

 Because third and fourth generations of families that owned newspapers had to pay high inheritance taxes, they preferred to sell their newspapers at two or three times their worth (to corporations who had the equity to pay a great deal for them).

 Many of these corporations bought newspapers at very high prices and were very highly leveraged.  When Lehman Brothers failed and the financial institutions started raising rates on bonds, there often was not enough money to cover day-to-day costs and run the newspapers well.

 Two of our outstanding graduates were fired recently from a newspaper that was making 20 percent on gross. [1] Unfortunately, two newspapers in the group were suffering badly and caused the corporation to fire highly paid employees.

 Pharmacies make 3 percent on gross.  Grocery stores make 1 percent on gross.  So newspapers are doing well, but newspaper corporations have borrowed too much in order to expand, and they do not have the cash to sustain their profitable businesses.

It truly has been the wrong model.  In a democracy, the economic principles that should guide newspapers are the economic principles of public utilities.

Newspapers are like electric power, water and other public utilities that keep a community operating well.

However, many newspaper companies have treated newspapers as cash cows. They have forgotten the importance of the newspaper itself.  Their focus has been on developing profits as high as 40 percent on gross.  Indeed, they have been concerned about stockholder earnings and the opinion of Wall Street firms.  

This is a short-term view. No great society can survive by ignoring the news and information needs of its people. It is important to remember what Walter Lippmann said back in 1925, that “a free press is not a privilege, but an organic necessity for a great society.” [2]

The economic problems of newspapers have been exacerbated by the increase in use of the Internet. It is important to note that the Internet and bloggers also may increase the demand for newspapers. “What reader will want to search through all the bloggers’ entries and then try to figure out what is true and what is not? That role, of sorting through rumors and separating the wheat from the chaff, used to be played by a solid newspaper and its knowledgeable staff.” [3] Clearly, more people than ever, I believe, are reading newspapers. In fact, Isaacson also reports that:  “Newspapers have more readers than ever. Their content, as well as that of newsmagazines and other producers of traditional journalism, is more popular than ever – even (in fact, especially) among young people.” [4] Even during these periods of uncertainties, people need to know about taxes, weather, in-depth analysis of new policies and how they might affect them, etc, and want to read editorials. These things increase the demand for newspapers. However, newspapers were not studying how to make use of this new technology.

Newspapers keep defending the existence of newspapers on paper rather than embracing both paper and the Internet. As a result they generally did not have research to show how to advertise effectively on the Web. Moreover, they had relied on advertising as their main source of revenue.  So advertising has been the primary focus of newspapers on paper. 

Paid circulation was viewed as being important, but advertisement rather than news was the bait that was used to lure readers, and readers were not charged enough for the news.  

In other words, paid circulation was perceived to be what delivered advertising revenue.  Thus, the concern about dividends for stockholders was a misplaced emphasis.

In brief, democracies need news and information, and the kind of stewardship some newspaper corporations have demonstrated has led to a period of transition.

What is important to realize is that few small dailies or weeklies have died.  Throughout Nebraska and other states these newspapers are thriving. However, “many people believe newspapers, especially hyper-local community newspapers, have a real future, whether it is hold and- fold, ink-on-paper or Web-based.” [5] “Considering the hurricane of change that is buffeting all segments of the news media these days, I’d argue that no part of the business is as firmly anchored as the average daily newspaper.” [6] It is up to these newspapers to find away forward.

I am an owner of three publications in Marshall County, Mississippi. These newspapers are immensely profitable and are offering major news content to the community.

 


 

[1] This figure is similar to what Paul Farhi reported in 2005 (June/July 2005; American Journalism Review).

[2] Lauterer, Jock. December 2008. The Future of Newspapers. Quill, Dec2008, Vol. 96 Issue 9, p10-12. Lauterer is the director of the Carolina Community Media Project and a lecturer at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

[3] Darly  Moen, quoted by Repps Hudson. May 2008. “The Future of Journalism.” St.

 Louis Journalism Review.

 [4] Isaacson, Walter. 2009. “How to Save Your Newspaper?”

 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1877191,00.html

Isaacson, a former managing editor of TIME, is president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author, most recently, of Einstein: His Life and Universe.

[5] Lauterer, Jock. December 2008

[6] Farhi, Paul (2005)

February 20, 2009

You’re invited to be part of Planet Forward

Filed under: Education,Journalism,Uncategorized — willnortonjr @ 11:10 pm
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

I’m writing this week to encourage you and your friends to get involved with an innovative project called Planet Forward.

Grab a Camera! Join the debate! Create a Web video for YouTube.

This is exactly what PLANET FORWARD wants you to do!

Starting March 6th, PLANET FORWARD will accept your videos, compositions, music, poems and photos  on how you think America’s energy future should be tackled at http://www.planetforward.org.

PLANET FORWARD is a new “hybrid media initiative” hosted by Emmy-winning journalist Frank Sesno, and former CNN Washington Bureau Chief and the director of George Washington University’s Public Affairs Project.

Sesno says anything from a “photo to an op-ed to digital animation or even a poem” can be submitted.

Professor Barney McCoy, a project PLANET FORWARD coordinator in our with UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications said PLANET FORWARD wants to hear from students, scientists, entrepreneurs and activists who want to make their case.

“PLANET FORWARD’s approach isn’t a top-down model of public affairs programming. Nebraskan’s get to help set the agenda,” McCoy said. “It’s an opportunity for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to join in a global dialogue about our use of energy and the environment.”

McCoy said PLANET FORWARD suggests a few guidelines. “PLANET FORWARD wants your argument to be based on fact, experience, research and the real world.”

The entries that are judged to be the most creative, persuasive and informative by a panel will be shown and discussed during the PLANET FORWARD show’s live broadcast on April 15, 2009.

Submission deadlines:
The fully functional Planetforward.org Web site will go ‘live’ on March 6th, 2009. You’ll be able to upload
your submission directly to the site.
The deadline for video submissions for the PBS program is March 20th, 2009.

The Planet Forward Web site launches March 6th and the PBS program will broadcast nationwide in mid-April.
PLANET FORWARD is co-produced by NET Nebraska.

Contact Professor McCoy at 402-472-3047 or e-mail bmccoy2@unl.edu.

February 3, 2009

Mary Gardner: Opens doors for journalists

Filed under: Education,Journalism,Uncategorized — willnortonjr @ 7:19 pm

Journalists and journalism educators heard about the extraordinary contributions of Mary Gardner, professor emerita at Michigan State University, when the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication met in Mexico City January 29-31 for the third international workshop sponsored by ASJMC.

At a reception on Thursday night, Alejandro Junco, a fourth generation publisher of Reforma told us that political reform would not have been possible without a more open press.

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

He told us that Mary Gardner had played a vital role in helping the press of Mexico become more open. His comments reminded me of a column I wrote about Mary Gardner for an Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication publication. The following is from that column:

In an article in The Journal of Intergroup Relations published in the fall of 2000, Alejandro expressed his appreciation for Mary’s contribution to freedom of expression in Mexico.

“…What she’s given to the people of my country has a value beyond calculation,” Alejandro wrote. “What she’s given to us in inspiration, in understanding, in a passion for the truth, has played a vital role in bringing democracy to a nation.”

When Mary Gardner went to Mexico, it did not have a free press or liberty of the kind Americans enjoy. Alejandro became a crusader “to break with the tradition of media corruption, especially the unconditional support the press had been giving to the Mexican government.”

“…There to guide us for all those tentative first steps, was one inspiring voice: Mary Gardner,” Alejandro wrote.

“I first met her while attending the University of Texas, and I soon came to realize that we in Mexico needed someone of her ability to help educate our future journalists. Twenty magnificent years set a new direction that continues….”

“She gave us fits,” Alejandro said informally before we left his newspaper’s headquarters.

“She gave us all fits,” I responded. When she was active in AEJMC she wanted us all to become all we could be. I recalled Mary gently admonishing me when I was a young professor interviewing at Michigan State University. It is not proper to call students kids, she had told me after I had referred to the Michigan State students as kids.

Her comments were irritating.  I was working diligently to be conscientious and care for students, and this professor was nitpicking, telling me that I still had a way to go if I wanted to make a contribution. Later, when I looked back on that event, I recalled how right she was and how I had such respect for someone who was so sincere that she did not hesitate to let me know her values.

During her career Mary Gardner was detail-oriented. She was a perfectionist, but she also was a visionary, and if democracy thrives in this hemisphere, this driven, diligent professor will have played a major role in the development of freedom and human rights.

Years ago, when she told me of her trips to Monterrey to work at El Norte, I thought her efforts might have a slight significance for the newspaper or perhaps for Monterrey. However, I never for a moment considered that her evangelical advocacy of a free press could ever affect all of Mexico.

I thought of how great it would have been if Mary Gardner could have been present to receive a standing ovation from her colleagues after Alejandro’s praise for his former professor.

Now I wonder who else in AEJMC unselfishly give of their time, energy and expertise so that others can enjoy liberty. And I hope that the spirit of Mary’s ministry in Mexico will live on for years in our association.

September 24, 2008

The Kyrgystan initiative: A work in progress

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 4:14 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 

Bishkek is laid out on a grid, with wide, tree-lined streets. It has parks and many orchards, and permanently snow-capped mountains are visible to the south.

Bishkek is laid out on a grid with wide, tree-lined streets. It has parks and many orchards, and permanently snow-capped mountains are visible to the south.

Monday, Sept. 22: We arrived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Monday morning.

It took us an hour to get our visas, go through passport control and pick up checked luggage.  We were met by university president Ellen Hurwitz’s driver, and we arrived at her house about 3 a.m.

We woke up at 11 a.m. and had a quick breakfast before heading to our first meeting at 2 p.m. on the campus of American University – Central Asia. We met to discuss the university’s planned media center with President Hurwitz and the university’s vice president for academic affairs.

The funds that had been provided for the media center at the university were designated for undergraduate education, but we had suggested they also be used for mid-career education for (more…)

September 21, 2008

The Bishkek express

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 7:35 pm
Bishkek, the capital of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, with a population of about 1 million, is situated in the north part of the country

Bishkek, the capital of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, with a population of about 1 million, is situated in the north part of the country

(Sunday, 21 September) Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan:

Kaare Melhus and I flew to Bishkek, leaving Pristina late in the morning (with a layover in Istanbul).  It is our second trip to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, home to American University – Bishkek.

Melhus and I made our initial review of the program in September 2007.  We met with university officials of the central Asian nation and wrote a report suggesting that a media center be developed at the university for the journalism faculty and for use by journalists who attend mid-career development workshops.

Now we are returning to Bishkek to discuss details about the center with faculty, administrators and journalists.  We (more…)

September 20, 2008

Nebraska’s educational mission in Kosovo

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 12:04 pm
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

For the past four years, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has participated in a democracy building project in Kosovo.

Many of our faculty have lectured at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (KIJAC). Many of our students have worked with KIJAC students on an international reporting project that focused on poverty in Kosovo.

(Friday, Sept. 19) Pristina, Kosovo- It’s been a busy couple of days in Kosovo. On Friday, Enver Hoxhaj, the Kosovo Republic’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology, told us (more…)

September 18, 2008

Journalism table talk

Filed under: Journalism — willnortonjr @ 12:05 am
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr.

Today, I met with a few members of the Freedom Forum board on the 7th floor of the Newseum in Washington.

We sat around a table that once graced the boardroom of the New York Times.  Around that table had sat many of the world’s leaders in serious conversations with executives of the Times.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. likes to tell about the day he was being considered for the chairmanship of the newspaper’s board of directors.

New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.

New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

According to the story:

The board deliberated while Arthur waited outside. Finally, he was called into the room.

Arthur’s father, Punch, sat at the end of the table.  He congratulated his son on being named the new chairman and asked Arthur to take his position in the chairman’s seat at the end of the table.

Arthur expressed his thanks for the appointment, but declined to take the seat traditionally held by the chairman. Instead, he sat at the middle of the table.

I reflected on that anecdote and thought of the rich traditions and significant developments that had taken place at that table as I looked out over the mid-morning traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue.

September 17, 2008

On the road….

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 2:23 pm
Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

I spent a good portion of Sunday and Monday, Sept. 14 and 15, meeting with the other deans who are part of the Carnegie/Knight Initiative in New York City.

During our meeting at the School of Journalism at Columbia University, I was reminded that the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York had a special appreciation for journalism.  Dr. Vartan Gregorian’s emphasis is on journalism as a vital area on every major university campus.  Moreover, I was reminded that he has described journalism as being part of education.  Indeed, he called it a species of higher education.

Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University and a member of the board of the Washington Post and the Pulitzer board, told the deans that this is a critical time for freedom of the press.

He noted that it was not until 1919 that the U.S. Supreme Court heard its first case on press freedom.  In less than a century, that court has defined great freedom for the press. The freedom is exceptional.

Media challenges

Today, media face great challenges because the Internet is undermining their financial base.  Because of a variety of converging pressures, Bollinger said, this is a critical time to (more…)

September 12, 2008

Greetings!

Filed under: Education,Journalism — willnortonjr @ 6:29 pm
CoJMC Dean Will Norton Jr.

CoJMC Dean Will Norton Jr.

Greetings! My name is Will Norton, Jr., dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Like so many of you, I have taken the leap into blogging. It will be a new discovery for me, as journalist and educator. I hope it will allow us to have a better dialog with you.

In this blog I will write about two great passions: Journalism and Education. Your comments are welcome.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is blessed with many of America’s  top journalism and advertising students.

Don’t be surprised if I blog about our college, faculty and staff. They face many exciting and diverse issues in today’s rapidly changing landscapes of journalism and advertising. I am quite proud of what they do.

Over the past two decades, I have been honored to serve the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communications, and the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Along the way, I’ve visited more than 70 campuses and nearly 50 nations. My travels have always reminded me of the vital roles journalism and education play in helping to improve communities around the world.

Outside the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications, Prishtina, Kosovo

Outside the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication, Prishtina, Kosovo

That point was underscored in June when I visited the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (KIJAC), in Prishtina, Kosovo.

Willem Houwen, director of the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication, and I stood at the top of the former Communist Party headquarters, now a bank building in Belgrade. We looked down at a fort at the juncture of the Sava and Danube rivers.

“For centuries this area was a moving frontier between the Hapsburg and the Ottoman empires,” Willem said. “That fort exchanged hands 1,400 times.”

Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, a nation that is a vital player in maintaining the significance of the Battle of Kosovo (1389) and the events related to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914).

The legend of the Battle of Kosovo is at the heart of Serbian nationalism. In fact, the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication stands near the tomb of Sultan Murat, the leader of the Ottomans who fought in the Battle of Kosovo.

Sultan Murat's tomb.

Sultan Murat's tomb near Prishtina, Kosovo.

The Balkans are at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, Russia and Africa. This is the region through which the great Silk Road was traveled. It has been the region through which armies have cut a broad swath on their way to empire building.

The memory of great defeats and great massacres have shaped the identity and commonality of each nation tribe or group in the Balkans. The recurring theme is victimization and persecution.

Today, our college is part of an effort to educate professionals so that they can begin to change the culture of violence and persecution that marks much of the region.

Over the past three years, many of our faculty have participated as visiting lecturers at the Kosovo Institute for Journalism and Communication. The effort has been funded by the Norwegian government through the assistance of our Norwegian colleagues at Gimlekollen.

UNL CoJMC student photojournalists - Lindsay DeMarco (left), Kate Veik, Vanessa Skocz, Karen Schmidt and Clay Lomneth.

UNL CoJMC student photojournalists in Kosovo - Lindsay DeMarco (left), Kate Veik, Vanessa Skocz, Karen Schmidt and Clay Lomneth.

Last March, our faculty and students joined with KIJAC students to produce a compelling series of photographs and reports that documented the vast impact of poverty in Kosovo. It was amazing to see the sharing of views, cultures and experiences between our students and their KIJAC counterparts in Kosovo.

We are making similar efforts in Ethiopia and in Kyrgyzstan. And recently, a group of Washington leaders asked us to be part of a proposal to do similar things in Afghanistan.

A primary mission of UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications is to prepare students to participate in a global environment. Here, we want them to be both good professional practitioners and  citizens.

By participating in international journalism and advertising programs, we’re contributing to a  process that benefits all. Along the way, we’ve met new friends and colleagues. And yes, we’ve also learned much about these new places, their cultures and their people who have been our hosts and teachers.

Again, I invite your comments.

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