A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Journalism Education IN-BRIEF

By Quill

J-schools face funding problems

Journalism schools across the nation are coping with heavy numbers of enrollees and one of the worst public financing crises ever.

And as journalism students returned to campus this fall, they found fewer teachers, fewer classes and bigger classrooms. Some prospective J-school majors have found that getting into programs can be much more competitive than they had previously thought.

Others are facing worse difficulties. At Texas A&M, the journalism department is scheduled to fold effective August 2004. According to Editor & Publisher, A&M’s fate may await other journalism programs in the near future.

“We at this campus have gotten whacked, as have all other journalism programs at what I increasingly call the ‘former public universities,’ “ Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, told E&P. “We’re looking at a real turning point in American higher education. It’s become clear that the public, through their legislators, is not supporting higher education the way they once did.”

Severe state budget cuts on J-schools have others feeling the hard-hitting effects. Ron Yates, journalism program head at the University of Illinois, said his program lost 17 percent of its funding in two years.

Teacher saves – and loses – j-program

A high school journalism teacher who fought to save the San Marin (Calif.) High School program was told in late August she would not be teaching the elective this fall.

An English professor with no journalism experience replaced Ronnie Campagna, who instructed students in production of the Pony Express newspaper for 18 years.

Campagna helped spearhead a parent-driven fund-raising group’s 11th hour donation of $24,000 that helped save the program. It was going to be cut following a $3 million budget deficit in San Marin’s school district, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

“It’s a disaster for students,” Joe Morgan told the Student Press Law Center. Morgan is president of the Novato Federation of Teachers, which represents the Novato Unified School District’s instructors. He said Campagna has not received a bad evaluation or done anything to cause the decision, which was made by San Marin Principal Loeta Anderson.

Anderson moved the rescued program to the school’s seventh period, a time that conflicts with Campagna’s part-time work schedule.

In the past, Campagna has allowed and encouraged students to write about school policy, sex, drugs and other controversial issues.

Liberian school falls victim to looting

Like much of the country in late summer, the journalism program in Monrovia, Liberia, was attempting to restore itself to some sense of normalcy. The Liberia Institute of Journalism was trying in late August to replace broadcast equipment, computers and other equipment damaged, destroyed or stolen during the country’s civil war.

LIJ executive director Vinnie Hodges wrote Editor & Publisher in an e-mail that looting and vandalism had affected all of the Institute’s property.

Groups such as the Freedom Forum and the National Endowment for Democracy had provided much of the program’s equipment.

Hodges was seeking funds to help the program buy back much of its own property, which was “being sold on the streets,” E&P reported.

LIJ produces an Internet newsletter that can be found at www.lij.kabissa.org.