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Online in today’s journalism

June 10, 2006

It is certainly clear that the future of journalism includes an online presence, yet it astounds me the number of California community college programs that still do not include an online component in their programs. There are at least two areas they need to catch up quickly: an online publication and online education.

As part of my role as the Online Communications Director for the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, I just completed one of my periodic studies of which schools have online publications and which do not. Of the nearly 75 California community colleges that have print newspapers (out of 109 colleges overall) only 45 have established online versions so far. And of those, five would have to be classified as inactive. That is, no new content has been published for at least a year.

TalonMarks.com pageBut things are changing. I’ve been in communication with the advisers at one of those inactive schools and five of the non-online schools who have indicated that they are in the process of pursing contracts with College Publisher, a commercial third-party content management provider for college publications, to start publications through CP. I’m a big fan of the CMS tool that College Publisher provides, virtually for free, to college publications because I think it removes the barrier of publications being reliant on an in-house techie to design and maintain the site. Instead, journalism programs can concentrate on development of content, which is more important. Currently 22 JACC colleges have contracts with CP; the others develop their HTML to create pages. So, by summer’s end, there should be 50 schools online and only 25 left to go. That’s too many, but we’re improving. I can still remember the late 1980s when only about five journalism instructors in the system even had e-mail addresses.

Healthy programs left to be heard from as far getting online include College of the Canyons, Chabot, Cuesta, College of the Desert, Diablo Valley, East LA, El Camino, Golden West, Grossmont, Las Positas, Orange Coast, Santa Ana, Santa Rose, Solano and West Valley.

Online education is a whole different beast. While studies show a high demand for online education, only Cerritos, Mt. San Antonio, El Camino, Citrus, Cosumnes River and Santa Monica appear to offer anything journalism online –and that includes the CSUs, which have shunned online education. A few schools around the state used to offer a telecourse in mass communications, but I don’t know if they are even doing that any more.

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