JMC, student media to see structural changes

Heather Inglis

A series of proposed changes to be made in KSU’s student media office, including the merging of two faculty boards and the creation of a Student Media Director position, was announced this week on the Journalism and Mass Communication webpage.

“I hope it will be a stronger student media operation,” said Thor Wasbotten, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Wasbotten said the two current faculty boards, one called the Student Media Policy Committee and one called the JMC Media Board, would be merged into one board under one of the current proposals. The Student Media Director will be responsible for managing student media operations, including the business office, advising, and helping plan and make a vision for student media. The director will not be a JMC faculty member but will have background in media and journalism.

With the creation of this position, the position of Student Media Manager will no longer exist. Current media manager Lori Cantor said some adjustments would definitely have to be made.

“There will be a new leader in place, and that person is going to have to learn a lot about student media,” Cantor said. “We have many different student media outlets, so that will be a huge learning curve for that person. And the students will have to adjust to reporting to somebody new.”

Wasbotten said he hopes the creation of this position will help branch the gap between classes and student media. However, he said that editorial independence is the No. 1 goal and it will not be affected with these changes.

Changes in media as a whole led to these changes, not just Kent State, Wasbotten said. With newspapers on the decline, students and advertisers are looking elsewhere to put content, including the Internet.

With that happening, Wasbotten and JMC Media Board member Tim Roberts said that has changed funding for student media. Student media was traditionally funded by advertisements but has recently has been depending on student tuition allocations, Wasbotten said.

Roberts, however, said this is because of overall media changes.

“This has been a national trend in terms of traditional media losing revenue as more and more people, both the students and the advertisers, turn to different platforms for different information,” Roberts said. “I’d say we’re probably one of the few who has such a strong traditional media presence. It’s not a reflection on The Stater; it’s a reflection on newspapers.”

A Student Media Task Force will be deciding how things in the newsroom will change for this summer and next fall in terms of publication, Wasbotten said. An official approval for the changes by the president’s cabinet, legal department and Board of Trustees should be determined in May.

Wasbotten said he encourages students to attend the open meeting Thursday, March 20 at 3:30 p.m. in Franklin Hall Room 110 to have their questions answered. He added that more meetings would be planned for after spring break.

Contact Heather Inglis at [email protected].