"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Salute to The Vista

I want to take a point of personal privilege and salute UCO’s 106-year-old student newspaper, The Vista. The first week of July concluded 40 years in the same location, room 107 of the communications building. Generations of young journalists, many of them now working throughout the state, trained in that room, under a multitude of advisers and conditions.
The paper has moved across the building into a merged newsroom with the broadcast facilities. It will continue to maintain its editorial independence, but we’re trying to change with the times, and a shared web page will be getting more emphasis.
This is a natural follow-up of the merger of the journalism and communications departments exactly four years ago. We knew we had to try to keep abreast of changing technologies and “convergence” in the media industry. Then, as now, we can’t know exactly where we’re going, but that we’ve got to try to better prepare our students for the crazy media world they’re going to seek jobs in. As the students wrote last week, it’s a “crazy roller coaster ride.”
I’ll stop short of calling it a converged newsroom. The broadcast students don’t want to be print journalists any more than the print students want to go into broadcast, but it’s our job to help prepare them for the increasing lap over of technology. As a matter of fact, our Vista students emphasize the word “shared” newsroom, not converged.
As you know, in this last summer of me being chair of the department after 19 years, I’ve served as interim Vista adviser. That meant I’ve been back in the newspaper business, which seems an appropriate conclusion to being chair. Most of all, I am incredibly impressed with the dedication, talent, determination, independence and humor of our small staff. They’ve even taught me some of the new technology. I can “paste up” with the best of them, but InDesign is something else.
And I can say the same for the broadcast students working with Dr. Keith Swezey this summer. Small staff, tight deadlines, and complete professionalism and dedication to excellence. Both groups have deadlines on the same day this summer, Tuesday, and it gets electric and exciting in the newsroom, as all newsrooms should be.
Teddy Burch, a UCO and Vista alum, takes over this issue as the new adviser, after a committee of five faculty and staff sifted through 17 applications and conducted six interviews. You’ll find that he has a dedication to improving The Vista and serving our students and UCO.
If you missed them, I recommend you look at two articles from the July 1 issue on our web page, http://www.thevistaonline.com/, “Vista moves newsroom after historic 40 years,” and “A conversation with Dennie Hall.” Dennie was the adviser during the tumultuous 70s, and helped establish the strong tradition we have of student press freedom and excellence.
I’m proud to report that today’s students are firmly committed to that tradition. The highest praise I can give them is: “If I still owned a newspaper, I wish I could hire you all.”
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