In an effort to keep students in the forefront of the current trend in news media, the Roy H. Park School of Communications is now home to the Park Center for Independent Media. The center aims to provide a forum for ideas about independent media and to expose students to new trends.
Lynch said she initiated the center to prepare students for the ever-changing world of media.
“There hasn’t been a better time to be a journalism student in at the least the last decade,” she said. “Right now things are genuinely up for grabs in ways that are so exciting and offer so many opportunities.”
Cohen said he hopes the center will enable students to make more informed decisions about their careers.
“Our goal is to show that there is this rich, provocative, exciting, extravagant media sector that is providing jobs,” Cohen said. “The independent is coming to the forefront.”
Cohen said the center will offer students paid internships at leading independent media outlets such as Democracy Now!, Talking Points Memo, Guerilla News Network and Free Speech TV. The center hopes to bring guest speakers to campus, host conferences for leaders in independent media and eventually offer classes about independent media.
Freshman Kirsty Ewing said the center is a positive addition to the Park School.
“I already have experience in conventional media and it would be great to see what other options there are,” she said.
Lynch said the center would also host a conference this fall to bring leaders from independent media organizations to campus to meet with students and faculty.
Mead Loop, associate professor of journalism, said independent media organizations offer exciting opportunities but it might also pose challenges to traditional journalism. He said allowing people to publish news without having to go through gatekeepers might sacrifice quality.
“[There are] people without formal training in ethics and law and much less [training] in news writing and the use of technology, [so they] can do a poorer job,” he said. “There might be a rush to judge or a rush to publish.”
Loop said though many people believe newspapers will soon be a thing of the past, he believes they may change but will not vanish.
“Print media remains expensive but news organizations are not going away — their distribution is different,” he said. “You’ve got more readers on the web than you do using print. But the news organizations themselves are not going away.”
Lynch said though independent media is growing, it does not mean the end of traditional media. She said independent media is thriving because of people’s evolving preferences and the emergence of new technologies.
“There’s a relatively wide spread consensus that traditional news organizations have failed in their obligation to meet the informational needs of a democracy,” she said.
Cohen said the independent media is not merely a passing media trend; rather, it is a movement that will likely affect the future of journalism and the media.
“With all the bleakness of journalism, independent media is a ray of hope,” he said.
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