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Cal-JEC meeting notes

March 14, 2009

I played host today to the quarterly meeting of the California Journalism Education Coalition board. Cal-JEC is that umbrella group that brings together representatives of the main high school, community college, university, other educational and industry groups interested in California journalism education.

Probably the biggest topic discussed over the day was a long-term project to develop regular “State of Journalism Education” reports for industry leaders. The group is working on a report that would cover the high school, community college and university levels and which would be delivered to the California Press Association next December. The hope is that there will be status reports every other year.

Putting together a concise, but comprehensive, report will be a daunting challenge, especially when it comes to high school journalism. The overwhelming (in all its connotations) thought about high school journalism is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

There are so many high schools in California and the two main representative groups: The Journalism Education Association of Northern California (JEANC) and the Southern California Journalism Education Association (SCJEA) touch only a small fraction of the schools that are known to have journalism programs, to say nothing of most schools where no one has a handle on whether or not 1) there are journalism programs, 2) what they look like, or 3) whether those teaching them have any background to prepare them for the job (though they often probably don’t).

The community colleges are fairly cohesive compared to the other systems. And our pattern of period snapshot surveys we’ve conducted in the past help. What with the state’s budget status, though, an abbreviated survey between now and December will probably be wise.

While the four-year college and university programs are reasonably identifiable, when you factor in the private institutions, it can be a chore to sort out what is going on among them.

We put together a timeline action plan to gather information for the report that I, as Cal-JEC chair, will present in early December.

WEB SITE

The group decided to start a new web site and use blog interface so that we can share information about what is going on in journalism education across the levels. It will be reminiscent of the current JACC Blog, but will also include regular articles about high school; four-year college/university; other educational groups, such as San Francisco State’s Center for Improvement and Integration of Journalism and adviser training groups like Newspapers2; and industry articles related to journalism education. Leaders of the constituent groups of Cal-JEC committed to posting regular articles so that there is new material on at least one of the levels each week.

Another major element of the site will be a calendar of journalism education events across the state.

The site is already under construction and will be located at www.caljec.com.

UPCOMING EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Speaking of upcoming events, in addition to our own convention, some of the most noteworthy discussed at the meeting included:

CNPA Equipment Grant Deadline — April 24

These grant awards are intended specifically for the purchase of equipment to improve the production process at campus newspapers. There is no minimum grant amount. The maximum grant in 2009 is $1,500.

Journalism Innovations II: New Work and Ideas for Making the News — April 30-May 1 — SFSU

The group is seeking panelists to participate in discussions on Big Ideas About Media and Journalism Policy; Funding and Philanthropy; New Business Models; Public Media and Social Ventures; Evolving Journalism Methos and Techniques; Career Counseling; and Social Media, Citizen Journalism and Blogger Technology.

SCJEA Write-offs — May 16 — Fullerton College

This is the equivalent of JACC’s on-the-spot contests, but without the surrounding conference. Students compete in periodic contests throughout the year to qualify for this competition. They usually need a lot of judges who can show up for a few hours that afternoon. So mark your calendars.

JEANC State Convention — Oct. 23-25 — Sacramento

First, it really is a Northern California event and, yeah, it is pretty close to our regional conferences, but it can be an opportunity for us to connect more with high school programs.

– – –

CIIJ is planning yet another workshop on technology specifically aimed at journalism educators in early October to coincide with the scheduled Online News Association convention Oct. 1-3. More to come on that later.

Other possible CIIJ future activities include:

  • A Digital Diversity Fund that will provide students and educators to apply for $200-$500 stipends to attend technology training workshops. This is an idea in progress, but may be up and running as early as fall.
  • A Journalism Incubator program to foster entrepreneurial opportunities for students. This idea is also in progress and may take until at least 2010 to get underway.
  • A revamping of the annual SFSU Journalism Job Fair as a job and internship fair.
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