College Media

A college media Thanksgiving

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For our U.S. and Canadian readers, this is the week of Thanksgiving (Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October), when schools call a recess from the frantic pace of the semester to allow everyone to meet with their families and friends and overdose on various foodstuffs and enjoy watching games of skill and chance involving an oblong leather ball. There’s also some shopping involved.

But the principle meaning for the holiday is to stop from the bustle of life to reflect and give thanks or express gratitude for the blessings of the present day.

Given that charge, I’ve put down a list below of some of the things I’m thankful for about college media this holiday season. Feel free to add your own in the comments below. Happy Thanksgiving.

I’m thankful …

… for the Internet, and the challenges and opportunities it has brought to college media and the news media in general. Without it, we’d know a lot less than we do now – for good and for bad.

… for college media outlets that continue to produce journalists who provide some accountability to the powers that be on college campuses across the country.

… for Organizations that help protect the First Amendment rights of student journalists in high schools and colleges.

… for Organizations that protect college advisers from undue and unwarranted threats from administrators who don’t want to see the student media do its job.

…for Organizations (like ACP/NSPA and JEA) that help provide training and recognition for student journalists beyond what can be given on many campuses.

… for Journalism departments that work closely with student media outlets and support a truly student-run college media experience (especially my own department at Eastern Illinois).

… for Organizations that think outside the box and help provide student media with more options and technical skills for their online presences.

… that there have been no massive layoffs (that I know of) at any college media outlet in the U.S.

… for college journalists who are shifting to a web-first mind-set in publishing news, trying new ideas and overcoming old print/broadcast/web silos.

… for college media outlets that are continuing to find piecemeal solutions to the business model conundrum.

… that part of my academic career is watching college media change before my eyes, and seeing the successful collegiate online journalists of today move forward and succeed in their careers.

… that I can be a blogger AND a journalist, and for four years (as of October, 2009) of blogging about college media and the online world.

… for Chris Carroll and Ralph Braseth, who have been integral to this effort (the CICM and the ICM weblog) from day one.

… for the many colleagues (advisers and professors) who have listened, challenged my assumptions and offered ideas and inspiration as we’ve had this conversation about the future of college journalism.

Every so often I tend to get a little bit pessimistic about The Future of Journalism, possibly because we (collectively: academics, journalists and business folk) tend to circle the same topics every 6-12 months like dogs eating our own vomit. But it’s helpful to take a step back and see how far we’ve come.

We’ve come a long way from where we were four years ago (YouTube was a new service at that time. Nobody had heard of Twitter because it didn’t exist). We’re not where we are going yet, but we’re farther along the track, and we’ll get to The Future mostly intact, I believe.

I’m reminded of a quote from Douglas Adams (author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy):

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

That’s the list as it stands now. What are you thankful for?