Steamboat Springs Many of you saw the ad. Eighteen of you responded to it.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association are sponsoring a free trip to China for a Routt County resident. The winner will be part of a group of at least 25 locals on the nine-day trip.
We asked interested readers to tell us in 400 or fewer words why they should be chosen for the free trip, as well as to submit a two-minute video blog as an example of the type of blog they would provide to their hometown while in the Far East. The winner will provide written and video blogs during the journey that will be published in the Steamboat Today, on SteamboatToday.com, in the Chamber’s e-newsletter and on SteamboatChamber.com.
A small group of us from the newspaper and the Chamber gathered in my office Wednesday morning to review the 18 applications that arrived by last week’s due date. We were impressed by the creativity and quality of many of the submissions. I recognized a real potential for compelling “citizen journalism” from some of the applicants.
But I also was reminded of the significance of a formal journalism education and its ability to teach students how to tell stories; be fair, accurate and accountable; think critically; display good news judgment; gather information; and communicate effectively to a variety of audiences.
On Thursday morning, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano and Jeffry Mitton, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, visited Steamboat. Mitton gave an early morning presentation titled “An Unprecedented Epidemic of Mountain Pine Beetles — Why?” at Rex’s American Grill & Bar. He and DiStefano then stopped by the newspaper’s office for a short visit. I was looking forward to hearing DiStefano’s thoughts on journalism education.
I’ve been a member of CU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication Advisory Board since 2006. The board recently recommended that the university shut down the school in its current form in favor of rethinking journalism education on the Boulder campus. As part of our recommendation, we suggested a College of News, Information and Technology that would be steeped in the core values of journalism and media ethics while also embracing the technological advancements and entrepreneurship that are transforming the media landscape.
The structure of CU’s journalism school is at the heart of the current problem, and after years of pushing for change and progress, it became clear that a more substantial step was needed. We believe the best and most efficient way to enact real progress in the type of journalism education we provide to students is by starting from the ground level and building up.
But our recommendation and the ensuing media coverage of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s discontinuance process has, unfortunately, focused more on the issue of school closure instead of the necessity of improving the quality and relevance of the education the school offers.
Because we’re dealing in academia, the process is slow and, at times, frustrating. There’s a lot of red tape to navigate, and the result remains uncertain. But as I told DiStefano on Thursday, the importance of a strong journalism program at the state’s flagship university is as significant now as it’s ever been. Social media and technology are transforming how, when and where news and information are being reported, but those advances haven’t diminished the need for trained journalists who can put the news of the day in context and ensure accuracy and fairness.
I was encouraged to hear DiStefano say that he was committed to journalism education on the Boulder campus, and I support his belief in a program that encourages a double major in journalism and another discipline, or a major in another discipline with a minor in journalism. Because while I know there are talented, smart community members more than capable of writing and recording compelling travel blogs from the Far East, making sense of a five-hour Steamboat Springs City Council meeting is another story.
Brent Boyer is the editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He can be reached at 970-871-4221 and bboyer@SteamboatToday.com