The ink of a fallen newspaper will be on the hands of the Yosemite Community College District Board of Trustees.
In a 7-0 vote, the Board of Trustees agreed that the best way to satisfy the budget at Modesto Junior College was to cut whole programs.
Among those on the chopping block was the entire mass communications division. Television. Radio. Journalism. All gone.
MJC’s student newspaper “The Pirates’ Log,” which was established in 1926, will not be able to continue.
This decision marked a sad day for journalism. What’s even more sad is the lack of understanding as to how negative an effect this could have.
First, the basic rights of speech and press will be halted for MJC students.
Is the school prepared to provide alternate sources of information?
How inclusive will the information be if the student voice is silenced?
In an attempt at justification, the Board of Trustees pointed out the low completion rate of the program – only five degrees in journalism in the last six years.
This does not, however, account for the transfer rate.
MJC is the type of school students can begin at as a stepping-stone to further education.
The number of completed degrees does not accurately reflect the number of students who will go on to pursue journalistic careers.
In fact, employers in this field will most likely be looking to see that you have a four-year degree and relevant work experience – the kind of experience you would get from working on a student paper.
But the board seems to think there aren’t any jobs left in this field anyway.
Let’s be clear. Journalism is not fading away. It’s changing.
While we may be moving away from print journalism, the writing and communications skills acquired through mass communications programs are still very much essential in today’s media.
If anything, careers in journalism and mass media now require a larger skills set, which surviving programs are working to teach.
Journalists are no longer expected to be trained in just one aspect of media.
They need to be comfortable with everything from writing and design, to shooting photos and video, in order to keep up with the ever-evolving media.
As journalists, we are concerned when we hear that we are expected to receive the same education in the “core disciplines” or art, music and theater.
We are baffled when we are told broadcasting and print media have lost “cultural relevance,” as a means of reasoning for cutting a mass communications program.
This occurrence is not exclusive to MJC.
The newspaper here at Delta continues to publish a print product while moving to better integration of new media in the curriculum. We work hard to increase interest in our work, because unfortunately, we have to prove our relevance.
Journalism and mass media may not look the same as they did in previous years, but the importance has not decreased.
MJC should not be losing its programs. No one should.
It’s our job as journalists to keep the masses informed. Where will students get information if mass communications programs are eliminated?