JACC SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR NEW ADVISERS Written by Lori Medigovich El Camino College Recruiting Funding Curriculum Working with professionals Other important things to consider Groups you should know about College Media Advisers Code of Ethical Behavior
When I was at Phoenix College taking journalism courses in the late 1970s, my classes were crowded with students wanting to uncover the next Watergate scandal. The public respected newspapers, journalists were taken seriously and all was well in the land of community college journalism. By the time I began teaching journalism at Phoenix College in 1986, I had two students in my news writing class and six producing the weekly newspaper. By this point, the boom had turned to bust. National and state budget problems led to severe cutbacks at most of our colleges. While this was happening, tabloid television "news" programs made it difficult for the public to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. The public trust in journalists had eroded and students were flocking to other majors. In this new climate, administrators cut programs with low enrollment; typically, journalism programs. As we enter the 2000s, our national economy is booming and our colleges are rebounding. Unfortunately, the last programs to be revived tend to be the journalism programs because ours were generally the first sacrificed to the budgetary ax. Perhaps our administrators believe that if they got along without us for several years, they can continue to get along without us now. Our job, then, is to convince them that they need our programs. As we enter the brave new world of electronic journalism, students are seeking out job opportunities on the World Wide Web. It is our duty to convince our
administrators that our programs are as viable as they've ever been and to convince our students that they can find lucrative careers in the field of journalism, electronic journalism, photojournalism and mass communication. This handbook is designed to give you some tools and some tips to help you convince your administrators and your students that your program will help them unleash the power of this new century. This is a very exciting time for our profession, and if we embrace the new media while standing firm in our resolve to teach the basics of grammar, style, good writing, ethics, fairness and professionalism, our programs should not only survive, but thrive in the coming years. Contributors include Mike and Susan Cornner who wrote the original JACC version, Rich Cameron of Cerritos College, Art Carey of San Jose City College, Jolene Combs of El Camino College, Allan Lovelace of Riverside College and Pat McKean of Long Beach City College. In addition, I've used ideas that I've picked up from so many of you that it would be impossible to give you all credit; suffice it to say that I have been listening and learning from each of you. Finally, Jolene and I got our information about VTEA, English comp requirements, certificate programs and the like from the late Tom Nelson of Cerritos College. Tom pioneered many of these techniques and we are grateful to have had such a colleague. I'm sure you'll have ideas and thoughts that are not included. While this handbook is designed to inspire your thought process and to help make your program grow, I would not pretend to imagine that it contains all of the information you may need or all of the ideas that you may have; this is simply a starting point. RECRUITING It's hard to make a program grow without its most important element, the students. Even our largest programs have problems recruiting students, so this is an area in which we could probably all use some help. Before examining the ideas below, Art Carey of San Jose City College asks you to know what you're selling. What are your program's strengths? Is it 2
training in the latest desktop publishing? Is it your Internet publications? Is it your photojournalism program? How about the ability of your program to launch careers? Figure out what makes your college and your program unique. Perhaps your program has won the most JACC awards in the past year. Perhaps your program has the best teacher to student ratio (which could also be interpreted as under-enrolled courses, but hey, the idea here is to sell some aspect of your program). Whatever it is, you must embrace it and emphasize it. With hundreds of colleges and universities to chose from, you must do something to make yours stand out. Carey adds that experts predict college students will change careers (not jobs, CAREERS) five times during their working lives. This means our students will need multiple skills to survive. These basic skills include the ability to gather, analyze, organize and present information in a variety of formats along with a familiarity of computers and knowledge of the Internet. Fortunately for us, that's what we do! So don't be discouraged about your programs and don't just seek out budding "journalists." Many of our students won't choose journalism as any of their five careers, but we still have much to offer even them. Teaching people to write well and to think critically are invaluable skills that our students can use no matter what career they chose. Remember this when you go out to sell your programs; we're not just about journalism, we're about mass communication. I've tried to present a variety of ideas in an easy to read format so that, if you've tried one concept, you can move quickly to the next. Here, then, are the best recruiting ideas from some of our best minds:
GO BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL * Consider forming a countywide journalism association that embraces high schools, community colleges and universities. This was done in Santa Clara County several years ago and The San Jose Mercury News sponsored several meetings at the newspaper. Occasional meetings with high school instructors can keep them aware of your program and you aware of their problems. * Participate in high school visitation days. Have an eye-catching display and hand out copies of your paper. Get involved in your local Journalism 3
Education Association (the high school equivalent of JACC) by volunteering to speak at conferences and by hosting the annual high school write-offs. They do the planning, you provide the facilities. * Make contacts with local high school instructors. Send them copies of your publications as well as copies of your recruiting material. * Rich Cameron finds ways to help his local high school journalism instructors. For instance, at one high school he scheduled a six-week series of lectures on topics from news writing to media law. Another school needed computers to put out its paper, so he offered his journalism computer lab for this purpose. (Remember that if you open up your lab to your local high schools, the high school adviser must be there to advise and supervise the students. It's still the high school adviser's program; you're just providing technical support.) While this requires some extra time and effort, Rich says it's worth it because these students are in his newsroom thinking about his college while still in high school. Make it your goal to make one new continuing high school contact each semester. * Create a brochure/handout to give high school students that outlines your program. For $20 or so you can buy a box of 100 sheets of brochure paper with a pre-printed design from companies such as Papers Direct (1-800-APAPERS) and photocopy or laserprint your copy onto the paper. This is an inexpensive way to create some nice looking literature about your program. * Also buy a supply of Reporter's Notebooks to hand out to high school students. Print adhesive labels on the notebooks that promote your program. Rich Cameron has a handout called, "The Dirty Dozen: The Most Often Seen Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers in Student Publications" that he put together years ago. He duplicates it on adhesive paper and pastes it on the inside cover of the notebooks. * Still another approach would be to create a simplified Introduction to Journalism course aimed at high school students. New state laws allow both the college and the high school to claim attendance for such courses.
* Final idea for high school students is to offer them your mass media course. At El Camino, we have a program called "Afternoon College" aimed at getting high school students to take courses at our campus. The courses are taught after high school lets out (hence, the name) and we make sure that the mass media class is part of the offering.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR OWN STUDENTS * Get your best design student to make a journalism department brochure and place it at all of the reception areas in all of the departments, divisions, or buildings throughout your campus. * At Riverside College, Allan Lovelace sends out 3,000 fliers in sets of 30 to all English non-remedial classes and all photography and graphics classes the first day of each semester, along with a cover letter asking instructors to distribute them in their classes. The fliers explain a little bit about the opportunities available in journalism and tell students when informational meetings will be held about the program. Allan then schedules two-a-day informational meetings about his program beginning the second day of each semester for a week. Add cards are kept at the ready to sign-up interested students. * Send a mailing to the best students at your school. Depending upon your college, you may be able to get mailing labels based not only on grade, but also on subject (those enrolled in English and photography courses). Make a flier and put it in the mail a week or two before enrollment for the next semester begins. * Put a brief article in your college schedule of classes promoting your courses. Will the editor of this publication accept a picture of journalism students at work? Find out what you can do to make your program stand out among the others and do it. * Meet with your college's counselors regularly and sell the skills that journalism teaches. You should also send them memos whenever your program wins awards or your students achieve something exceptional; this lends credibility to your program and they'll be more likely to push your program if they see that your students are successful.
* Be active on campus committees. Build ties with other faculty. Make sure that you have a presence on your campus and that other faculty know you and are invested in your success. Nothing beats word-ofmouth endorsements. * Promote your program with full-page or half-page ads in your own newspaper and fliers on campus bulletin boards. * At least twice a semester, once a month if possible, send your entire staff out to the center of campus to meet their readers. Do this on a day that the newspaper comes out. Have your students shake hands, hand out papers to students as they walk by, give them copies of your department brochures and otherwise engage them in a positive, friendly manner. * Participate in any campus-wide job fair or other recruitment activity where you can set up a table and hand out your materials. * Offer 1- and 2-unit directed study classes for students who can't take a regular journalism course. They can design their own journalism projects under your supervision or get involved in internships. When these students find out what fun it is to be involved in journalism, they'll enroll in your regular courses. * Get involved in special programs on campus and recruit from them. At Cerritos, there is an honors program that the journalism department can participate in, so it does. * Volunteer to be an adviser for a student club on campus. Yes, you probably already advise your campus newspaper, but here's an opportunity to meet with students from other clubs. Yes, it will require some extra time. However, the clubs generally meet for only an hour every other week or so and you get to work with students who are active on your campus and who you may want to recruit. * Tell your administrators about your successes. When you get back from a JACC event, drop all upper-level administrators and college trustees a note listing the awards your program won. Better yet, ask to be placed on the next board of trustees agenda so that you can show the board members your plaques and thank them for their support. Bring along 6
your editor in chief other ed board members and make sure that they thank the board members, college president and other administrators for giving them the money to attend such a valuable event. Whenever you are honored or whenever you present a workshop for JACC, ACP or JAE, drop your administrators a note about that, too. If you don't promote yourself, your students and your program, nobody else will.
BEYOND YOUR BORDERS * Create an online paper. Aside from the extra visibility, it shows administrators that you are addressing unspoken fears about the future of newspapers. It also gives you a new target group to recruit from: computer enthusiasts looking for hands-on web producing experience. Teach them some journalism along the way. * Use your college's web site as a link to your journalism department site. You can promote your program there as well as offer web sites for each of your classes. Also make sure that your online newspaper is linked into your college's web site. * To capitalize on the interest once students in Delaware or Denmark discover you, offer Internet courses. Your news writing course translates quite easily to the Internet. * Send out press releases to your local newspapers. Whenever your students, you or the program are recognized, send out a release. Look for angles beyond winning awards at JACC. For instance, several years ago our local daily did an article about the fact that the top four positions at the El Camino College newspaper were held by Latinas. Look at your students and see if you can entice the local press into writing features about them. Chances are you have some interesting, feature-worthy characters on your staff.
LET YOUR STUDENTS HELP YOU Finally, make sure that your successful students spread the word about your program. At El Camino, we ask our students now working in print, broadcast and public relations to return each semester and talk to our
students. Keep in touch with students after they leave and make sure that they give back a little bit of what you gave them.
FUNDING Now that money is flowing back into our economy, college administrators across the country are willing to free up some bucks if you've got an innovative idea. There are numerous pots of money that you can dip into; it's your job to find them and to dip in. * Your first source is the regular college budget. Your administrators must understand that your program and your newspaper are a vital part of the academic fabric of the college. Funding for journalism should be equivalent to other programs taught in the curriculum. The cost of equipment, supplies and printing is the same as these items being provided by the college for the chemistry laboratory, language lab or any other regular part of the normal activities associated with other courses offered on campus. * All other sources of funding should be supplementary. For example, the college should be persuaded to fund a weekly 8-page standard as the minimum to meet the course objectives in your curriculum. Any funds you generate should be used to do any of the following: increase frequency of publication, increase size of publication, increase total circulation, produce extra issues, pay for color (full or spot), pay for conference expenses, pay for organization memberships, pay for special supplies (for example, rental of lenses for specific assignments) or any number of other special needs. * Advertising revenue is an excellent funding source. Some JACC members report bringing in as much as $40,000 a year, so don't overlook this potential cash cow. The hardest part of cashing in here is finding a student ad manager. Look at your business department for potential recruits or ask one of your top go-getters to take on the job. Remind them that they get paid not only in commission (the rate varies from 10 percent to 30 percent), but sometimes in student help hours, too. So this could be a lucrative source of income for your students. Also, since most journalism departments get to keep all of the money
that they make in advertising revenue, this could also be a huge funding source for your program. * Student government is a third source of funding, but it is best used as supplementary funding. This is because student governments rarely have the stability needed for you to count on them as a stable source of funding. Also, if some student government members don't like what they read in the paper, they could threaten to turn off the funds. Be careful. Yes, you should seek these funds and you have the right to them, but don't count on them. It's best to use these funds for strictly studentrelated activities like attendance at conferences or a student awards luncheon at the end of the semester.
VTEA FUNDING Perhaps your best bet for new money is through the federal government's Vocational and Technology Education Act (VTEA). It works this way: the feds hand out millions of dollars to each state's college and university system. These funds are then divided among the various campuses in the state. The bottom line is that, each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are pumped into your college for VTEA funding. Who is eligible? In addition to your electronics, air conditioning and refrigeration, nursing and cosmetology programs, you are. Journalism is a recognized VTEA program and has its own state TOP code of 0602. At El Camino, almost all of our computers, printers, scanners, software and other hardware has come from this fund. Without VTEA, we'd still be putting out our publications on Underwood's or Classic Macs. Your campus has an administrator who oversees the program; find this person and apply for these funds. The spring semester is when funding proposals are due for the next school year, so take care of this now. Let me give you three more reasons why you must do this ASAP. 1. At El Camino, we regularly get about $10,000 a year from VTEA funds and have been since the early 1990s when we first applied for funding. During the 1999/2000 year, we got our entire wish list of $31,000 in hardware and software. What could YOU do with $31,000? A lot. And we've won these amounts not because we have a huge program with hundreds of students (at some 200 total students, ours is the smallest 9
VTEA funded program on our campus), but because we ALWAYS apply for funds. Since we meet our deadlines, ours was one of three VTEA funding requests completed on time. The administrator in charge of VTEA recognized that he had to honor the deadline, so he gave first priority for funding to those who had turned in their paperwork. While this will probably never happen again, we're using our windfall to get about a dozen of the latest computers and other hardware and software. Also, in May of last year, our college had about $10,000 in VTEA funding that had to be spent before June 30. Our dean asked if we had any need for these funds, so we came up a $10,000 proposal for two laptops with all of the bells and the whistles as well as the latest software. Since we met the deadline, could justify our need (our students need laptops w/modems to take to sporting and other off-campus events so that they can send their stories back to us on deadline just like the professionals) and were the only ones with a proposal, we got the funds. 2. It gets even better. When VTEA programs were set up decades ago, many instructors hired to teach these classes were professionals who did not have bachelor's, master's or other advanced degrees. So a Vocational Education payscale was devised for VTEA instructors who had professional experience, but no alphabet soup after their names. For most of us, placement on this Vocational Education payscale would mean an immediate $5,000 a year pay increase. Yes, $5,000 a year. At El Camino, we have been unable to convince anyone to place us on the payscale (imagine that). Fortunately, Pat McKean at Long Beach City College had better luck. Years ago, Long Beach City's faculty union negotiated to place instructors whose load is mostly VTEA courses on the Vocational Education payscale. So once Pat got his program certified to receive VTEA funding, he got his pay increase. 3. Yet another benefit for you and your program -- one of the requirements is that you set up a VTEA advisory committee to help you determine your program's funding needs. YOU decide who's on this committee. Our committee consists of newspaper, TV, radio, magazine and other professionals who meet with us periodically to discuss what we can do to help our students get jobs. Now you're creating more contacts for your program and you're also getting professionals involved in and invested in your program. This committee should lead directly to internships and jobs for your students.
Yes, this will mean additional work for you, but the benefits are enormous. Not only might you get an immediate pay raise, but your program should get an immediate infusion of cash. Since the state already recognizes journalism as a VTEA program, all you need to do is explain how your students will benefit. You need to show how the VTEA money will lead to jobs for your students. Here's the basic rationale: Since all journalism is now dependent upon computers, digital cameras, other hardware, software and the Internet, your students cannot find jobs in journalism without knowing how to use this equipment. So purchasing $20,000 worth of hardware and software will give your students the hands-on experience they need to get jobs. If you have any questions or need any help applying for these funds, Pat McKean at Long Beach City has a stack of papers he can give you to show how he got his program started. I can send you our recent requests for funding so you can see what kind of language we have used to get funding.
CURRICULUM Curriculum is often the beginning and the end for good journalism programs. Generally speaking, the better programs are those with a comprehensive program that fairly represents and respects the time and the effort of the faculty as well as the students. The basic effort should be toward creating a load for yourself that does not require you to teach outside journalism unless you want to do so. Creating curriculum to meet a standard 15-hour load is not as difficult as it may seem. Start with the two most basic courses in the curriculum: beginning news writing and mass media. Since these courses are accepted universally at most universities for journalism and even non-journalism majors, these are the backbone of your program. News writing is listed as meeting the English composition requirement for the Associate of Arts degree at several of our colleges. If your college does not already recognize it as such, you should talk to your dean to find out what needs to be done to meet this requirement. Yes, you may have to rewrite your course outline and, yes, you may have to struggle a bit with your campus curriculum committee, but in the end, this will be invaluable to the success of your overall program. At El Camino, about three-fourths of
our night news writing students (the class usually enrolls about 30) are there because the course fulfills the English composition requirement. That's a lot of extra students. Before you get overly excited about this, please understand something. There are different levels of general education requirements for each degree being sought and for each transfer institution being considered. There are general ed requirements for your college, for the CSU system, for the UC system and for other universities. So, while our college recognizes our news writing course as fulfilling the English composition requirement for the A.A. degree, most transfer universities do NOT recognize it as such. It's generally useful only for those who do NOT plan on transferring (your cosmetology students, auto mechanics and other more traditional vocational education students). Fortunately, though, you've got a lot of these students on your campus, so make sure that they get a flier explaining this and see if they don't start signing up for your classes. The mass media course generally meets a social science or critical thinking requirement for the Associate of Arts degree, although its placement in the general education curriculum varies from college to college. Find out what general education requirement your mass media course fulfills and make sure you promote that fact in all of your fliers and other promotional materials. Again, if it does not fulfill any general ed requirement on your campus, find out what needs to be done to make this happen. In addition to these, the newspaper production course is part of the basic community college journalism teacher's load. The amount of the teaching load this responsibility represents varies from as little as one class among the five needed for most full-time loads to as much as a full-time position without any other teaching responsibility. You can try to make a case for more release-time hours to advise the paper, but perhaps a better way to go is to increase the number of courses in your curriculum that are production related. This is a more creative way of forcing your administrators to pay you for advising without getting into the entire release-time debate. To cite a few examples: * At El Camino, we linked our newspaper and magazine production classes to a non-credit tutorial laboratory. Most of your college's foreign 12
language and math courses already have this lab. Again, find out what you need to do to get your class listed as such. Since it's non-credit, the students don't pay for it, but the college gets state money for every student enrolled and you get credit for seeing more students. Better still, we get paid extra for holding this non-credit tutorial lab, but we don't really work more because the lab takes place during regular newspaper production hours. Basically, we're finally getting paid for overseeing our students while they produce the publications. * An editorial board production class (all editors would enroll in this class). * A copy editing production class. * A magazine production class. * Or you may want to try what Robert Mercer is doing at Cypress College. In fall of 1999, Robert launched a media convergence newsroom that produced a cable TV newsmagazine on MediaOne as its final project. He had representatives from his newspaper production, online production and broadcast production students involved as well as students from his non-production courses. He also attracted other students from non-journalism courses. The overwhelming success of this program should lead to at least three video magazines from the course this semester with the idea of going weekly soon.
CERTIFICATES AND DEGREES If your college does not currently offer an A.A. degree in journalism or mass communications, it should. While getting official approval is time-consuming, it can be done. A degree confers a new level of respectability upon your program. College administrators will find it more difficult to cancel under-enrolled classes if a degree is riding on it. They'll also be more willing to give you funding if a degree is involved. While your college probably offers the A.A. degree, does it offer a certificate of competence in journalism? A certificate allows students to take some of your courses without having to get the A.A. degree in journalism. Since many of our students work so many hours in our production classes, they often transfer before receiving their A.A. in journalism. One of the state measures of success for any college is the 13
number of A.A. degrees awarded. Therefore, if your program isn't very successful in this area, your administrators might not be as responsive to your department's needs as they might be to other departments that are awarding a higher student percentage of A.A. degrees. This is where the certificate works so well. Another state measurement of success of any college is in the number of certificates it awards. So if you're having problems getting your students to get their A.A. degrees, or if you have students who already have bachelor's degrees but want retraining, create a certificate program. A certificate requires the students to take a specific number of courses, usually 15 units. If you want to create a certificate for 18 units or more, then know that this type of certificate requires state approval, so it might take two years to get it up and going. A certificate requiring less than 18 units only needs approval from your college's curriculum committee. Whichever option you chose, the advantage is your program gains more credibility and your students get a specific set of courses to take to meet the requirement. Here's another opportunity to encourage more students to take your classes as well as to remind your administrators that they can't cancel under-enrolled courses because they're needed for the certificate. What's also neat about a certificate is that you can create them in a variety of fields. For example, even if you don't offer a photojournalism class in your curriculum, you could offer a photojournalism certificate by requiring the student to take some basic photography courses as well as some basic journalism courses. You might even be able to create an online publications certificate or other certificate involving the World Wide Web as a way to not only attract more students to your program, but to keep your program on the cutting edge of technology. Be creative and use the certificates as ways to attract students from throughout your campus. Whatever you do, make sure that you publicize it so students can take advantage of your certificates.
CREATE NEW COURSES AND GET ONLINE You should seriously consider creating and adding broadcast news writing, public relations, photojournalism, feature writing and article writing courses to your curriculum if they don't already exist.
The time has come for you to launch a distance education or an Internet course. Yes, it's going to take some time and some effort, but it will be worth it in the long run as our students are seeking more creative ways to earn their degree than going to campus Monday through Friday or even Monday through Thursday. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times indicated that students would rather take a course for six hours on eight Saturdays than a course for one hour M-W-F for 16 weeks. You should explore ways to accommodate them. Create 6-week, 8-week or 9-week courses. Get on the Internet. Switch to a Monday-Wednesday, TuesdayThursday schedule. Do what you can to give our students the flexibility they crave. The more courses you create and the more flexibility you add to your schedule, the more students you will attract and the more your program will grow. BUILDING YOUR NUMBERS The survival of your program will likely be pinned upon the number of students you attract. Weekly Student Contact Hours are also of great interest to most administrators. Administrators are often concerned when they see a full-time faculty member who teaches a handful of students while there are demands for classes in other disciplines. The basic unit of measuring the "productivity" of a faculty member is WSCH. For example, a teacher has a couple of mass media classes, a beginning reporting class and two newspaper production classes as a full-time load. The load in WSCH might look like this: Class Mass Media Mass Media Newswriting Newspaper Production
3 3 3 6
25 30 20 10
75 90 60 60 ======= 285
Compare this to the history teacher with five 3-unit classes each with an enrollment of 40. The WSCH produced is 600. 15
Five history classes = 15 units X 40 students = 600 WSCH Even the most sympathetic administrator is hard-pressed to support a program with such low productivity. Your defense to this reality is in part lowering the expectations of the administration for your program's enrollment and in part building more positive numbers where you can. Which also leads us back to the argument for adding more courses and being more flexible in your scheduling of these courses.
KEEPING THEM ONCE YOU'VE GOT THEM Now that you've worked so hard to attract students to your program, you need to keep them. You need to watch out for students who are unhappy, disenfranchised or bored. This advice is mostly for your newsroom staff because this is the group that not only generally provides you with your biggest headaches, but also generally provides you with your biggest rewards. One of your most important jobs as an adviser is to be a communicator. Once you discover that some of your staff members are feeling left out, you need to bring them back into the fold. Talking with them is a great first step. Getting your student editor to talk with them is even better. Mostly, though, keeping the lines of communication open between yourself and your staff members is vital. This way you can prevent tiny misunderstandings from becoming huge, nasty problems. Here are some tips on how to keep your staff members in your program: * The adviser or the editor should send each staff member a postcard during each semester's break. Keep it informal, short and sweet. Just let them know you're checking in to say hello, are looking forward to the new semester and can't wait to see them. * The first meeting of the production class needs to be upbeat, motivational, filled with information about what you did over the break and even some jokes. (This is also a good way to start the first day of any class.) Doughnuts, candy or other appropriate food would also be good. Keep the meeting short, tell everyone how great it is to see them, have your student editors do the same and get them eating and talking to each other. You can meet the next day to get down to business; the first day, you need to bond.
* Every member of the staff should have a mailbox in the newsroom that they must check at least daily. Make sure you put those mailboxes or mail slots in the back of the room so that staffers are forced to come inside the newsroom to check their boxes. Have the most talkative, charismatic or engaging editor you have sit near the mailboxes so that he or she can be sure to chat with everyone as they walk by. * No staff member should go out alone on his or her first story. Whatever it takes, even if your staff consists of three people, you need to make sure that the new reporter goes out with a more experienced reporter. Not only will this make the new one feel more comfortable, it will force the two of them to bond. * Remember to say thank you. Make sure your editors thank students for turning in stories early and on time. Make sure that they write positive, upbeat comments on the assignment sheets. Nothing turns off a scared or a borderline contributor faster than an assignment sheet filled with negative comments. We're not saying that you should lie or not discuss the reporter's shortcomings with him or her; what we're saying is that instead of ripping someone apart for writing a bad lead, you should remind them how the lead is written and explain to them why their story was changed so that they can learn. This is about learning; not ripping into someone for being an inexperienced, student reporter. * Do what you can to help break up cliques, but remember that they're a natural part of life, so don't get too stressed out by them. Instead, make sure that everyone on your staff feels like a member of a team and feels supported by everyone else on the team. So while your editors might have their cliques, make sure that they also invite new staff members to join them for lunch, coffee or food runs. They don't need to love each other; they just need to support each other. * When your staff members are sick, call them. When bad things happen to them, get everyone to sign a card or send them flowers or balloons. The bottom line is our students are at an age and at a time in their lives where they naturally feel a bit disenfranchised or unsure of themselves. They may be having problems at home, they may hate their current jobs, they may be confused about their career options, they may be crazy in love and they may act incredibly immature. Whatever their particular issue, the 17
one thing you can give them is a safe haven. If you make your newsroom their home away from home, they'll be yours forever.
PROGRAM REVIEW Sooner or later, our colleges require us to survey our programs and determine where we've been, where we are and where we're going. This is a great opportunity for you to promote your program and the work you've done while looking to the future and telling your administrators that you could do so much more if only you had more release time, more computers, more faculty, etc. It's kind of a combination program-evaluation and wish-list. Ultimately, it forces you to thoroughly evaluate your program's strengths and its weaknesses while making recommendations on how to improve. What's also nice about it is that administrators and off-campus professionals and educators are often asked to comment on your review. Think of this as yet another opportunity to get on-campus and off-campus sources invested in your program. Fortunately for you, we've got a comprehensive JACC college survey that can be used as supplemental information for your review. The information provided in the survey can also help you make a case for more release time, more computers, etc. Check it out on our website. We also have a section devoted to program review.
WORKING WITH PROFESSIONALS For your program to not only survive, but thrive, you've got to make the connection between your students and your local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, Internet professionals, public relations specialists, photojournalists, etc. We've talked a lot about working with your high schools and recruiting, but it's also important for you to work with your local professionals. If you're lucky, you'll have a lot of your former students who are now professionals to lean on. But even if you do or don't, the key is to create relationships with the managing editors at your local dailies and weeklies that serve your community.
A great way to do this is to offer an internship program. All colleges offer credit for these, so get involved. At El Camino, we give our students a list of potential internship sites, but also let them find jobs on their own. It's relatively easy to get internships because most businesses are more than happy to get free help (yes, they generally work for free since they earn college credit). To ensure that our students learn something, our program requires that at least three measurable objectives be met over the semester (i.e., write one news article for the newspaper, write one feature story, write one press release, etc.). In addition, the instructor is required to meet with the employer at the employer's office. Talk about a great opportunity to make yet another professional contact. Finally, our students have been offered jobs from these internships. Our editor in chief is interning at the Daily Breeze as a copy editor. She's done such a fantastic job that she's been offered a fulltime job (she doesn't even have an A.A. degree). Fortunately for us, she turned it down, but we've got dozens of students working at newspapers, public relations organizations, TV stations and magazines who got their fulltime jobs from their internships. It's always great to be able to point to your professional successes. Everyone gains from an internship, so work on making it happen at your college.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER NEWSPAPER POLICY
Each newspaper should have a policy manual. The policy manual is the cornerstone of the campus publication(s). JACC has produced a sample policy which is available on our website at www.jacconline.org. Put a policy manual in place as the first order of business and then use it as a living document which can easily be changed to meet your needs. You may wish to three-hole punch the pages of the manual and put it into a binder so it can be easily updated by inserting new pages into the binder. The manual also shows your administrators that you're serious about your program, your newspaper and your job. 19
Your newspaper staff needs a handbook. Things like how to answer the phones, how to make long-distance calls, how to find sources, how to ask questions, how to write news stories, how to write sports stories should all be covered simply and clearly. Yes, they should know how to write stories, but do they? It never hurts to go over the basics. You should also explain what is expected of them (i.e., professionalism, no use of vulgar language, no hanging of obscene material in the newsroom, etc.) and include a copy of your college's student code of conduct. It's nice to be able to point these things out to them if and when they get unruly. Ultimately, though, discussing your expectations of them and having these expectations in writing should stop problems before they start. Let your current editor in chief and/or editorial board put the handbook together for next semester's staff. Have it duplicated by your campus reproduction center each semester and updated as needed. CENSORSHIP: DON'T DO IT
Dr. Wayne Overbeck, CSU Fullerton journalism professor and attorney specialist in media law, says the adviser who intervenes in the content of the student newspaper is violating the students' First Amendment rights. One former JACC adviser once told a group of colleagues that she controlled the responsibilities involved in producing a newspaper. She said that the students were incapable of handling these responsibilities, so she just did it for them. While this is an extreme example, it's fair to remind you that our job is to advise; that's it. Our students can take our advice or leave it, but it's never our job to write stories for them, to edit stories for them or to do any of the other production work involved in putting out the publications. Taking control of the student press is not only illegal for us to do, but it also irreparably damages the relationship between the adviser and the students. It also puts the college in legal jeopardy if the student should file a lawsuit. Simply put, don't do it. Most JACC advisers keep their jobs and enjoy a wonderful teaching career without censoring their students. The philosophy of "Train them, then trust 20
them" has worked for most of us. We would encourage you to continue this tradition and let your students do what you have so expertly taught them to do. One last thought on this topic; you may also need to educate your campus colleagues as to your role. Oftentimes, administrators as well as your professors are clueless as to what you do. They often think that you're responsible for the content of the newspaper. Let them know what you do so that they have a better understanding of your program. BUILDING STAFF MORALE
Student newspaper staffers are on an emotional roller coaster. With deadlines, comes anxiety, and with anxiety, comes personnel problems. One of the major chores of the adviser and the staff's editor in chief is to keep all members of the staff working at peak efficiency while having some fun. Working together for long hours under pressure can lead to problems. Uppermost in the mind of the adviser must be the task of providing a positive learning environment for students. One day it may mean picking them up with kind words and the next it may be pointing out the style and spelling errors in the newspaper. Students may complain that they're working too hard and that you need to cut them some slack. Yes, they're working long hours. However, this is an elective. They have CHOSEN to be in this class, this is THEIR decision and they've said that it's THEIR passion. You need to remind them that if they really want to make it in this career, they've got to be able to produce at this level. You should also remind them that they're not being asked to do anything that thousands of students before them have done or that you have done. Keep them focused on their goal -- a career in some aspect of the profession. If things get too tense in your newsroom, remember that there are things you can do to help improve staff morale. The following are but a few suggestions: * Thank them. Daily. If they stay late, thank them. If they come early, thank them. If they do ANYTHING out of the ordinary, thank them. This is the easiest and probably the most over-looked way to boost anyone's morale.
* Challenge another college's newspaper staff to a volleyball or a softball game. * Each semester, have an awards luncheon at a local restaurant and present awards for the best feature, sports story, etc. The awards can be done inexpensively or, if you can, get the college to spring for plaques and do it up big. However you do it, the point is to recognize their work and to give them a special day. Ending on such a high note really boosts morale for the future. * Take them to conferences. Attend the annual Southern and Northern California JACC conferences as well as the Fresno conference. In addition, there are annual CNPA, ACP, SPJ and other conferences that you should encourage your students to attend. A variety of professional organizations, including the Freedom Forum, Press Photographer's Association and local Press Association put on a variety of events. Many of these are listed on the JACC website, so check them out, talk them up and make your students attend. It's vital that they meet other college and professional journalists so that they don't feel isolated. They need to feel as if they're part of a larger whole. Get them out there so they can see that there is a future waiting for them. ADMINISTRATORS AND YOU
Always try to maintain a good relationship with your college's administrators. It is vital to your program that you can talk to your dean and your other administrators and that your relationship is warm. Through funding and curriculum load decisions, these men and women can make or break your experience on your campus. The best way to do this is to be professional and friendly at all times. If you can volunteer to help your dean by sitting on a committee that no one else will sit on, then you might want to do it. We don't want you to fear anyone, because you shouldn't. We just want you to maintain lines of communication between yourself and your immediate supervisor and do what you can to make the administrator feel vested in your program. We regularly invite our administrators to our annual journalism convocation and new staff receptions so that they can see what we've accomplished. We also make sure that our dean visits our newsroom lab so that he can see for himself that when we ask for equipment or a new 22
paint job, we're not being unreasonable. We smile and say hello whenever we see any of our administrators on campus. We write them notes about our successes, and always thank them and remind them that we couldn't have done it without their support. We do whatever we can to make them feel that our success is there success, because, ultimately, it is. The entire campus wins when it has a successful and a strong journalism program. You need to make sure that your administrators recognize that fact. Now, if you have a difficult or a strained relationship with your administrator and you've tried everything to change this, then you should go about your business and hope that he or she goes about his or hers. Always deal with administrators on the highest ground possible. Try to be positive and helpful (it is not necessary or advisable to be a friend). Stick to the basics of good, ethical journalism. Remind administrators that journalism students are learning and will make mistakes just as the football team's quarterback will throw interceptions and the chemistry students will screw up a laboratory experiment. Encourage administrators to deal directly with the students. Never, ever speak on behalf of the newspaper or its staff. This breaks down the fundamental underpinnings of the student press. Say instead, "I will convey your concerns to the editors." Don't get between your students and your administrators. Your students have rights under the Constitution regarding the operation of the newspaper; you do not. Faculty run the risk of being fired for insubordination by refusing to carry out orders of administrators. If an administrator tells you to remove a story from the paper, say, "I will pass along your request to the editors." If the administrator insists, say, "The directive given is in violation of the students' First Amendment rights; there is probably a wiser course of action. Perhaps the consequences of this story are not as great as you think." Long before a crisis arises, you should also train your students about their rights and about dealing with administrators. Let them know about the Student Press Law Center (see listing later or visit their website at www.splc.org) and let them know what you will do if ordered by administrators to do something that violates their rights. 23
The consequences of a First Amendment violation are almost always greater than the problems with printing the story in question. Explain to the administrator that the students could sue over such as order and that plenty of lawyers would love to take on these cases pro bono. YOU HAVE RIGHTS, TOO
You are a highly qualified professional. You have rights owed to you as a result of the collective bargaining agreement between your district and the faculty. Read the contract carefully and understand your rights and responsibilities. Since unions tend to be there to support the greatest good for the greatest number, the unique problems of one faculty member who advises a campus publication are likely to receive support only when you can show the relationship of your situation to other faculty. An example of this would be: At one college, the adviser was told to hold car washes and cookie sales to produce a campus magazine. Journalism is part of a curriculum at your college, just like other disciplines. Has the chemistry teacher been told to hold a bake sale to pay for test tubes? You should not have to beg for money to keep the publications going. Those publications are a vital part of the curriculum. Without the newspaper and/or magazine, you cannot meet the course objectives.
JACC EVENTS There are three annual JACC events. During the fall semester, the Northern and Southern California colleges hold regional conferences for students and faculty. These include mail-in and on-the-spot competitions, seminars and workshops, as well as business meetings. The spring semester brings the annual conference on the CSU Fresno campus. This is similar to the regional events except it involves more colleges. In February, the faculty gathers for its Mid-Winter Conference in Morro Bay. Academic issues and concerns are addressed in this highly positive and supportive activity. It is vital to attend these events. Not only will your students get much out of these conferences, but you will also learn more about yourself and your students by attending. Remember, too, that our job is a unique and often a 24
lonely one. We generally run one-instructor departments and our jobs require that we put in long hours and work with students under stressful, difficult situations. Just as it's vital for your students to get out and mingle with others from other colleges, it's imperative that you do the same. Connecting with other JACC faculty will help you realize that you're not alone and that others do understand what you're going through.
GO TO LUNCH While Rich Cameron was at West Valley College, he started the concept of gathering for lunch with faculty from neighboring colleges. He's brought the idea to Cerritos and those of us working in southern Los Angeles and northern Orange counties try to meet for lunch at least once every few months. These are strictly informal gatherings, but the opportunity to break bread with a colleague is invaluable. Again, we're so isolated on our campuses that it's important to share ideas, concerns, frustrations, successes. You can start your own lunch bunch by calling up the faculty at your neighboring colleges and getting together.
GROUPS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT Please see our website at www.jacconline.org for web addresses for the following. JACC -- Journalism Association of Community Colleges. An organization based in California with some member colleges in Arizona. This is the largest of its type. JACC provides three student conferences each year and one faculty-only conference. It supports the ideals of professionalism in teaching journalism and backs up teachers by lending its political clout and resources to saving teachers and programs in trouble. CCJA -- Community College Journalism Association. A national equivalent of JACC. Stages a national conference in conjunction with AEJMC and provides support services for faculty. The organization produces a quarterly professional publication, the Community College Journalist. California has been a dominant influence on this organization with many Californians holding office in the national group.
A E J M C -- The Association of Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication. A national organization of two- and four-year faculty which hosts national meetings annually. ACP -- Associated Collegiate Press. This is primarily a ratings organization. The so-called All-America newspapers received the top rating from this national group. CNPA -- California Newspaper Publishers Association. This is the primary organization of most newspapers in California and includes college and university membership. CNPA presents its community college "Teacher of the Year" award. It also judges the general excellence of community college newspapers as part of its annual awards program. SPJ -- Society of Professional Journalists. A national organization of, as it says, professional journalists with university chapters. Your local SPJ may be pretty active and offer a variety of meetings and workshops. Usually local chapters will have guest speakers on topics of interest to journalists at reduced rates or free to students. CMA -- College Media Advisers. This non-profit membership organization serves advisers and puts out a very useful publication, the College Media Review. SPLC -- Student Press Law Center. This non-profit group provides legal help, information and advice to students as well as faculty members. If you've got a First Amendment or other press law question, call them first. C F A C -- California First Amendment Coalition. This independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization's mission is to defend the people's right to know. The group often holds workshops that may be of interest to you or your students.
College Media Advisers Code of Ethical Behavior The adviser is a journalist, educator and manager who is, above all, a role model. Because of this, the adviser must be beyond reproach with regard to personal and professional ethical behavior; should encourage the student media, adhere to and publicize an organizational code of ethics; 26
and ensure that neither the medium, its staff nor the adviser enter into situations which would jeopardize the public's trust in and reliance on the medium as a fair and balanced source of news and analysis. THE ADVISER'S PROFESSIONAL CODE
Freedom of expression and debate by means of a free and vigorous student media are essential to the effectiveness of an educational community in a democratic society. This implies the obligation to provide a forum for the expression of all opinions. Student media must be free from all forms of external interference designed to regulate its content, including confiscation of its products or broadcasts; suspension of publication or transmission; academic, personal or budgetary sanctions; arbitrary removal of staff members or faculty; or threats to the existence of student publications or broadcast outlets. In public institutions, the law is quite clear on guaranteeing broad freedom of expression to the students. In private institutions, media advisers should aid in developing governing documents and working with administrative guidelines which foster a free and open atmosphere for students involved in campus media work, if such freedoms do not exist. Students should be made mindful of their obligation to avoid real and apparent conflicts of interest. They must be held to clear local policies in that regard. Advisers, in addition to adhering to their own code of ethics, should encourage the media they advise have established and published codes that apply to the student staffs and conform to nationally established and accepted journalistic norms regarding professional behavior, conflict of interest, acceptance of gifts and services, honesty and integrity. Advisers, in these roles as professionals, must ensure that they have or gain the skills and education requisite to teach all aspects of the media they advise THE ADVISER'S PERSONAL CODE
The ultimate goal of the student media adviser is to mold, preserve and protect an ethical and educational environment in which excellent com27
munication skills and sound journalistic practice will be learned and practiced by students. There should never be an instance where an adviser maximizes quality by minimizing learning. Student media should always consist of student work. Faculty, staff and other non-students who assume advisory roles with student media must remain aware of their obligation to defend and teach without censoring, editing, directing, or producing. It should not be the media adviser's role to modify student writing or broadcasts, for it robs student journalists of educational opportunity and could severely damage their rights to free expression. Advisers to student media must demonstrate a firm dedication to accuracy, fairness, facts and honesty in all content of the medium. Since there is no clear line between student media content and student media operations, ethical prohibitions against interference in content also apply to interference in student media operations in areas such as story assignment, decisions on inclusion or exclusion of content, staff selection, source selection, news and advertising acceptability standards and most budgetary decisions. Using arbitrary policies, production guidelines or financial constraints to limit student decision making is no more ethical than rewriting or changing editorial content or influencing the physical appearance of media. Advisers should be keenly aware of the potential for conflict of interest between their teaching/advising duties and their roles as university staff members and private citizens. It is vital that they avoid not only actual, but apparent conflicts of interest. The promotional/publicity interests of the university and the news goals of the student media are often incompatible. Advisers should also be aware of becoming the publicity focus of organizations to which they belong or for activities in which they are participating. Advisers cannot expect student staff to respect their own ethical guidelines if advisers believe themselves exempt from strict ethical behavior. The requirements for ethical behavior extend to all operations of the student media.
Perceptions of favoritism in the purchasing of services and equipment or granting of contracts can be just as damaging to credibility as perceived favoritism in news judgment. This is particularly true when offers of unrelated equipment or services are made in return for giving business to vendors. A clear policy which applies to all members of the student media operation should be communicated to all potential vendors. THE ADVISER'S OBLIGATIONS
Membership in College Media Advisers, Inc. signifies acceptance of the Code and a willingness to abide by its tenets. The organization will support those members who adhere to this Code and thereby become victims of pressure or negative action from university administrations. This may involve formal censure of the offending institution of higher education. REVISED NOVEMBER 1992 College Media Advisers
This is a document prepared by Lori Medigovich to help community college news publication advisers plan for and solve problems associated wi...