Census aims to quantify campus media

January 2019

The California Press Foundation, in partnership with CSU Northridge’s Journalism Department, is laying the groundwork for an innovative workforce preparedness plan aimed at sustaining the state’s journalism and its news and information industries.

Called the Journalism Education Census, the project will leverage data gathered from high school, community college and university students and their teachers/advisers in both public and private institutions to create what is envisioned as the first-ever open-source statewide database of journalism programs and publications.

The project is seen as a vehicle for training and hiring the next generation workforce for the California news industry. Armed with new on-the-ground data, editors and publishers can play a major role in helping to influence the curriculum in the state’s journalism schools at all levels.

“This is significant,” said Linda Bowen, one of the project’s leaders, “considering the size of California and the sheer number of high schools, community colleges and universities, both public and private.”

When completed, the database will list the names of the schools, publications (or other forms of news media, such as TV, radio, digital) and advisers, as well as their contact information, such as available email addresses and all other forms of communications, including social media, and any relevant notes.

Project leaders expect that once the database is up and running, it can serve as an interactive horizontal interface between the profession – supplying resources for industry internships and scholarships – and journalism education, by providing the latest studies, findings and cutting-edge techniques.

In addition to the colleges and universities, state data routinely collected on California’s public schools indicate formal journalism courses exist under an English/Language Arts designation at nearly 1,000 schools, said Bowen, chair of the CSU Northridge Journalism Department.

Programs also likely exist at some of the 1,252 California public schools with Arts, Media and Entertainment courses. There is no known open-source database of information on private high schools.

Among colleges and universities, the data include more than 200 contacts across the public systems including California Community Colleges, the University of California, the CSU, and dozens among private university journalism and media programs.

The census project was conceived by California Press Foundation board members Marty Weybret, former Lodi News-Sentinel publisher; and Steve O’Donoghue, longtime scholastic journalism teacher/advocate, and a vital resource for reaching and connecting educators directly with news organizations. The goal is to provide a wide array of support and guidance from the California Press Foundation, project funder, and California News Publishers Association, O’Donoghue said.

“When contact information is gathered in one place and we have a sense of the challenges facing California journalism education, we will be able to target our service to journalism programs in the state,” Weybret said.

As part of the project, researchers will survey teachers/advisers and students on a variety of key topics, ranging from funding security and First Amendment challenges to career concerns and the outlook for adapting to the digital age. The first survey, a pilot scheduled for early this year, will be directed by Darleen Principe, CSUN graduate student in Mass Communication, who has been the project’s lead researcher.

“As Cal Press and CNPA endeavor to promote California journalism education, we’re operating in the dark,” Weybret said. “This data-gathering project will provide us and journalism educators at all levels with up-to-date contact information and a way to reach out and collaborate with our partners in journalism education.”

California educators have expressed support for the project by contributing data collected by their associations, such as both Southern and California scholastic journalism affiliates of the national Journalism Education Association, as well higher education-based organizations.

“We are hoping a side effect of this effort will be to build membership in all the organizations at all three levels: secondary, community college and four-year schools,” O’Donoghue said.