Organization site - Fall 2000
Issue: 2/20/01

By Carroll Ferguson Nardone

As I sat down to write my first message as president of CCJA, I promised myself I would make it a message that doesnít refer to anything about the new millennium, 21st century, new age, etc. I, like many of you Iím sure, am tired to seeing the trite generalizations about the year 2000 and what it means to this or that.

So, now I must apologize because Iím not going to be able to keep my promise. No matter how I try to not dwell on our changing times, I canít help but note what I feel is a defining characteristic of our time. All the media convergence that is changing how our work gets done hasnít overshadowed what we as community college media educators have always held as primary to our missionóteaching our students how to think critically and how to write well. Good writing is at the heart of all that we do and while itís tempting to let the new gadgets in our field overwhelm us, the fact remains that if we teach our students to write well, they will be able to flourish in whichever media field they choose, no matter what new things lie ahead.

For example, itís hard to argue with the fact that the Web is changing journalism. Itís changing how we gather our news, how we package it, and how itís received. We, as educators, canít possibly teach students everything they will need to know about the technology theyíll be using. Budget considerations alone make that impossible. What we can do is teach them how to think and how to write. Then as the technology changes, they can adapt, knowing that their foundation in thinking and writing skills will carry them into the new model of journalism, whatever that ultimately is.

Itís refreshing to know that weíre not alone in our mission. Take a look at any media conference agenda, including the recently concluded AEJMC national convention, and youíll notice that there are many, many sessions devoted to some form of Ďback to basicsí thinking. Thinking on the part of educators and practitioners that recognizes that most of our students today will be holding media jobs tomorrow that have not yet been created. The only way we can do justice to our students is to give them strong foundations on which they can build their futures.

As weíve often heard, thereís no way of predicting the future. What Iím advocating is that we spend our time preparing rather than predicting. We must prepare our students well, but we also need to do some preparation ourselves. We need to take a more active role within our own organization and become more vocal with other media education groups to promote our ultimate mission. We must keep the notion of critical thinking and good writing at the forefront. As the technology continues to evolve, we need to take care of the most important component of the mediaóthe message. Letís make sure our basic notions of critical thinking and good writing continue their "newfound" universal appeal.