Organization site - Misc News
By Arlene Scadron
Last month (Aug. 2) at the AEJMC annual convention in Miami, I assumed the presidency of CCJA. The transfer of power from Carroll Ferguson Nardone, who has served so well in the position for the past two years, had none of the pageantry, glamour or pronouncements of significance inherent in more notable presidential transitions. We (the small group of CCJA loyalists who attended the business meeting where all of this transpired) bestowed a lovely plaque on Carroll and offered a much-deserved thank you for her hard work, intelligence, sense of humor and commitment to keeping CCJA alive.
After a few moments of reflection, wondering how I ended up as president "all of a sudden." l recalled Jolene Combs' innocent-sounding e-mail of at least four years ago when she asked to put my name on the ballot. I said "okay," thinking I should "do my duty" as I had seen others do, including Jolene, who has assumed major CMA responsibilities, Gary Morgan, who managed AEJMC/CCJA programming for many years, and my old friend, Gerri Fiedler, who served CCJA as president when I was in the early years of advising at Pima College. Gerri, who taught journalism and advised The Voice for at least 15 years at Glendale Community College in the Phoenix area, encouraged me to join CMA, CCJA, JACC and AEJMC, and took me to my first JACC winter adviser's conference at Morro Bay, Calif All of this introduced me to networks of committed advisers, teachers and researchers applying their experience and knowledge in academic journalism. These organizations provided and continue to offer stimulating conventions, publication and online information, as well as personal friendships, contacts and support that I still value sixteen years after I began working at Pima Community College.
Yet it is obvious that CCJA is the weakest of these organizations measured by active, paid members. Carroll's effort and that of other CCJA officers before her, raises the major thread that runs through most of our business meetings, namely, how do we grow this organization? How do we turn more of the (179 people) who say they are members of CCJA into partial, semi or full activists? What should this organization be doing to serve its existing and potential members more effectively so they want to be part of it? Why do so few community college advisers and journalism faculty see CCJA as a meaningful organization?
For many of you, one of the answers probably is that your statewide organizations provide all of the support you need, and your relatively close proximity allows for periodic face-to-face contact with each other at much less expense than attendance at an AEJMC annual convention. Certainly, the organizations in large states that serve academic journalists at several levels, for example in California, Texas and Florida, illustrate this. In addition, AEJMC, at whose annual conventions CCJA holds one of its business meetings, focuses almost exclusively on four-year colleges and universities as well as graduate institutions. It is the primary organization through its publications and meetings for faculty who must publish scholarly research as well as teach. Tension between community college faculty and AEJMC is nothing new, although over the past five years, CCJA seems to more accepted by AEJMC, especially with the success of its GIFT (Great Ideas for Teachers) program at the annual convention. CCJA works well with interest groups like SPIG (Small Programs Interest Group) and the Newspaper and Scholastic Journalism divisions. And I've noticed an increase on AEJMC convention programs of more practical, hands-on teaching sessions of use to faculty at all levels, primarily due to the programming ideas of CCJA and SPIG. CMA, along with its Associated Collegiate Press component for students, is focused strictly on advisers at all academic levels, from community colleges through four-year programs. For advisers, this is the most valuable national organization. CCJA also holds one of its business meetings in conjunction with the fall CMA convention.
T raise the question of how to improve CCJA's value to its current membership and potential for recruiting others in the hopes that some of you who read this will rcply with suggestions, comments or criticism. CCJA officers have discussed dissemination of a survey to ask these questions systematically. We may decide to do this at our next business meeting (date TBA) during the CMA Convention in Orlando, Oct. 31 -Nov. 3.
In the meantime, your thoughts are most appreciated. Please contact me at [email protected].