Perspectives in Journalism

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 affirm the importance of the press, which he called a major institution in our society.

He said journalism schools are critical to successfully communicating what journalism is about.  Indeed, he said journalism schools must be intellectual leaders in our society and on university campuses.  So, he said, the question is how we are to shape journalism schools to function effectively.

President Bollinger called for a sense of a body of knowledge that is appropriate for journalists to know.

Public Service Programming

During our meetings in New York we also talked about broadcast public service programming in America.  This is an ongoing discussion in the U.S. as radio and television stations are purchased by larger and larger corporations that have ownership throughout the nation.

The $450 million Newseum is located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

The $450 million Newseum is located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

The Freedom Forum

On Tuesday the Newseum board met.  It was so informative to walk through the Newseum again and see the great exhibits.

My wife, Susan, and I had dinner with the board on the Newseum terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capitol with our guest Sarah Pulliam, an intern at Christianity Today and a member of the distinguished Indiana publishing family.  Also with us was Kaare Melhus, director of international programs for the Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication.

Looking forward

Earlier in the day, Kaare and I had met with a group that included David Feingold, vice president of content at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications; Frank Sesno, professor of media and public affairs at The George Washington University; Mark Ganguzza, head of the Sunburst Creative Group, Inc.; and Scott Bittle, executive vice president for public issue analysis of Public Agenda.

Frank introduced us to a project he and David were exploring with Scott and Mark and asked if our faculty would be interested in participating. It will involve a Web page on sustainability, video, audio, written narrative and graphic design with great rewards for multi-media whose entries are judged to be the best.

Kaare and I both were enthusiastic and told Frank that David and I would explore the project with the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Kaare would pursue possibilities in Norway.

Both of us would have conversations this week and next with the faculty members at American University-Central Asia and at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication.  We also hope to involve students in Ethiopia by soliciting the help of Dr. Gebremedhin Simon, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism and Communication at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Finally, Kaare would have conversations with Salim Amin in Nairobi about participating in the program.

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