Loss for words: is GCC’s journalism program on the chopping block?

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GLENDALE, Ariz. – The GCC administration is looking to discontinue its associate in science (AAS) for journalism. Why, and what will this mean for journalism students?

While the administration has not yet made a definite decision, the journalism AAS is in the crosshairs.

“We always have to look at program viability across all our programs,” said Scott Schulz, Vice President, Academic Affairs at GCC. “Is journalism being considered? Yes. We have to look at numbers of students within the program, labor market demand, and things like that. So, is it definitive? No, but are we leaning in that direction? Yes.”

When reviewing programs to put on moratorium, administration looks at factors such as enrollment, the number of students who have declared a major in the program, workforce demand, transferability to like programs at universities, cost of classes, and more.

GCC is looking to keep the journalism classes with the highest enrollment, and that have direct transferability to universities. These would include classes like JRN 201 News Writing and MCO 120 Media and Society.

“I think it is premature to end the program,” said Jenna Duncan, journalism program director at GCC. “Especially considering the many changes to curriculum and the course checklist that have been made recently, in order to help students with easier transfer to in-state universities.”

How will cutting the journalism program affect current as well as future journalism students?

“We have a commitment to the students that if we did cut the program, there is a teach-out date. If students have already started the program, we would help them finish it. As for new students coming in, we would direct them to a Maricopa college that had the program,” said Schulz.

“We would also have our FOI advisors working with Ms. Duncan in contacting all of the students, and developing a plan to make sure they are taken care of. We just wouldn’t have new people joining the journalism program,” said Dr. Susan Campbell, Dean of Instruction, Career & Technical Education at GCC.

There is an issue with re-directing students to another campus, however. GCC is one of the two remaining community colleges in Maricopa offering the journalism AAS. The other is Mesa Community College.

“In the last five or six years, several of the programs have ended.  Years ago, the journalism faculty member from Scottsdale retired.  At the same time, the woman leading the program at Paradise Valley also retired. Those schools didn’t see a reason to continue those programs, and put them on moratorium. Mesa and Glendale have been the hold-outs. We’re the community colleges that feed into ASU,” said Duncan.

Students are not pleased with the possible decision to cut journalism either.

“I was really disappointed to hear the news that the program may shut down. It has been an important part of the GCC community since the beginning. I would not be where I am today without Ms. Duncan and the program. Without it, I would not have felt as prepared and confident as I did when I transferred to NAU last fall,” said Michael Manny, former social media editor for The Voice.

“It is upsetting to see the news that the school may be cutting the program,” said Zachari Moore, a journalism student at GCC. “The courses GCC has offered have been extremely beneficial to my progress. It saddens me to think future students may not be able to have this experience.”

Though the decision has not yet been made, it does not look optimistic for journalism at GCC. While its voice may not be dead, it might be dying.