Ohio Journalist

Guest Column

By Stephanie Pavol

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(June 11, 2011) — This past year has been a fascinating time to be board president of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni & Friends. Not only are we experiencing a transformative and transitional time in our industry, but at the journalism school itself.

Our industry is in flux. Newspaper readership and broadcast news viewership are down. But while the way we receive our news is changing, our appetite for news is not.

Americans spend more time with the news than over much of the past decade. In fact, the average time Americans spend with the news on a given day is as high as it was in the mid-1990s, when audiences for traditional news sources were much larger.

We as journalists and communicators must view this as an opportunity and evolve with the times. According to the Pew Center, we are shifting from the ‘Industrial Age’ to the ‘Information Age’, where information is abundant, cheap, personally-oriented and designed for participation. This brings questions of accuracy of information and what responsibilities we will have as journalists and communicators. But one thing is clear: there has been a ground shift in communications and the media industry.

Big changes are happening at the J-School as well. Journalism students will move into a new building in 2013, which faculty hope will encourage innovation. The curriculum is being revamped too, which reflects the move to semesters in 2012. The six sequences currently offered (advertising, public relations, news editing, magazine, broadcast and online) will instead be condensed into two tracks: Strategic Communications and News and Information.

But amid all of these changes, I am confident that journalism remains a vital part of our future and that a journalism degree is a strong asset to any incoming student. A journalism degree provides key verbal and written skills, as well as an analytic mindset and inquisitive nature, which are necessary to be successful in a variety of professions. However, it is our responsibility as alumni and educators to help prepare these students for a changing landscape.

As I close out my tenure as SAF board president, I am proud of what our society and the J School have accomplished this year. The society held its annual Scripps Senior Saturday event for more than 70 graduating seniors, started a LinkedIn group that attracted nearly 600 J School alumni, and fostered a lively dialogue on our various social networks.

The JSchool has had a truly a landmark year as well. A few highlights include:

>> The school’s SPJ and RTDNA chapters hosted the Ohio Sunshine Summit, bringing together student journalists and professionals from across the state to discuss challenges facing student journalists on college campuses. This led to the school’s overall ‘Outstanding Senior’ Evan Millward being honored with the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Pro Chapter’s First Amendment Award.

>> The school’s student-run PR-firm ImPRessions became nationally affiliated with the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

>> The Ad Club is making yet another trip to the National Student Advertising Competition.

>> The school’s SPJ chapter was named Outstanding Campus Chapter of the Year by national SPJ.

I am so proud of our society and JSchool’s accomplishments, but I am even more excited about what the future holds for us and for our industry.

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