It’s a tad of an irony that the same week I began constructing a new World Headquarters for Out There Publishing Company and Hardscrabble Times the University of Colorado announced possible plans to close its School of Journalism, apparently due to irrelevance.
The only question I have is does this announcement mean my Bachelor of Science degree from there is even more useless, or does it mean it’s more valuable since they won’t be issuing that many more? I also took economics from the legendary Prof. Reuben Zubrow at CU and seem to remember something about supply and demand.
I took my first J-School class in 1978, and was accepted into the school in 1979. This was during the post-Watergate journalism boom, and the CU school was among the best in the country with profs like Sam Archibald, the Grandfather of the Freedom of Information Act and author of the Colorado Sunshine Law, and Mal Deans, the standout copy editor and reporter who later became ombudsman for the Rocky Mountain News. All three of them, including the Rocky, are now gone. Zubrow, too.
I think I learned a a good deal in Journalism School at CU. For one thing it was an actual trade and not many other lines of study at CU trained people to actually do something useful. Instructors like Lee Wilkins, now a journalism prof at University of Missouri, drilled us on writing good leads, AP Style and inverted pyramid. Our profs took us to city council or county commission meetings to teach us how to sort out the crap from the news. Eventually we would “cover” these meetings and write stories about them on deadline.
I was lucky to have newspaper jobs all through college and this experience plus the education I think helped me start ahead of most when I graduated. This led to opportunities with newspapers and magazines, and in marketing, the Web, technical editing, books, etc.
Lately I’ve been working on a new office. The house has grown a bit smaller in the past six years and space is at a premium. So I’ve moved my workspace inside a closet. I’ve built a desktop of redwood, and tacked my framed CU journalism degree among the shelves above.
Despite the downturn in the industry, there’s still opportunity out there. Meanwhile, I can shut the doors on the entire thing if I want.