Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A cautionary tale

This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education is just the latest development in a situation I'm familiar with. Be sure and read the comments at the bottom. Here's the Collegian's take on it. And this is some background.

When Ron Johnson was dismissed as adviser last year, I was aghast. (Not a word I get to use very often, but it applies.) He taught me a lot of what I know about editing and page design and I respect and admire him. Daily grammar quizzes and weekly AP Style quizzes have a lot to do with me being qualifed for the editorial job I have now. He was an important part of the journalism program, and he's still a professor, but he's not advising the student media and that's a loss, I feel. Last year, 'visiting advisers' did his job; the adviser position is still open as far as I know.

Student reporters and editors learn their jobs by doing them, but they usually only do their jobs a semester at a time. Then it's a new group of students in charge. But the faculty adviser is there to take the heat semester after semester. Sometimes he or she gets burned. The Student Press Law Center documents lots of these cases every year. If you ever read a college newspaper, just understand that these newspapers' faculty advisers often have a thankless job as they try to prepare the next generation of journalists.

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