Former Editor: Colorado J-School Closure First Step Toward Building ‘World-Class Program’

Susan Deans wants the world to know: Journalism is not dead at the University of Colorado.  In a recent guest commentary for The Denver Post, the former editor of Boulder’s Daily Camera wrote that the university is actually moving “closer to the forefront of journalism education” and will soon be “a leader in the field of digital communication.”

As many in the journalism community are aware, the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado-Boulder recently voted to close CU’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication based upon the recommendation of an advisory board that counted Deans as a member.  The vote officially ended a long discontinuance process that has been viewed by some as a harbinger of dark days ahead for journalism education nationwide.

Deans argues the opposite.  As she wrote, “At present, the journalism school is no longer meeting the needs of its students. It is still teaching news journalism pretty much as it did 20 or 30 years ago, when most graduates went to work for newspapers and a few for TV stations. . . . The advisory board supported closure only because we believe it was a necessary step toward reconstructing a world-class journalism program on the CU campus.”

My take: I am a firm believer in the brush fire mentality as it pertains to journalism’s current state– the notion that the flames burning down some traditional portions of the field will enable new innovative portions to rise from their ashes.  In this sense, the words Deans spouts such as leader, forefront, and world-class (not to mention digital) to describe the dreams of Journalism 2.0 at CU are obviously welcome.

My problem is that they are still only dreams.  The school has been shuttered without a true detailed plan in place for what happens next.  Yes, the administration has been offering reassurances that it intends to keep its “three most important resources intact– our budget, our student body and our faculty/staff.”  But what will they be doing exactly?  What will they be teaching and learning?  How will they specifically be integrated into existing programs?

The brush fire is a neat analogy.  But it requires more than burning down.

One Response to “Former Editor: Colorado J-School Closure First Step Toward Building ‘World-Class Program’”
  1. Shannon says:

    Well well, I hope this wasn’t an arbitrary move that brings some regret to the legislators of the college. I was researching this school, actually considering attending it sometime in the near future.