J200 – Journalism

The semester at Indiana University Kokomo is coming to an end. The campus is buzzing with students winding up assignments, taking final tests, and looking forward to at least a few days of rest before summer sessions begin.

For me, it was the end of attending a class in journalism taught by Dr. Erin Doss. Yes, I lived 20 years plus at the Kokomo Tribune including four as its publisher/CEO. I did some writing but mostly was concerned with management of a business and getting a newspaper on the door step of each subscriber every day at the same time. Formal journalism was not in my background. I wanted to learn particularly about the change in journalism over the past 3 decades. I did.

I loved the class. Just being around students and a professor who were enthusiastic about writing and journalism was refreshing. I found the cardinal principles of journalism had not changed one single bit. Reporters still are to gather news and information, then present it to their readers in as objective, complete, and unbiased ways as humanly possible. Hard news and opinion are to be separated. Features are to entertain and educate. Readers are informed about matters and issues that affect their lives. None of that has changed.

What has changed are the vehicles to get information from the heads and hands of a reporter to the eyes and minds of the reader. In my final days at the Kokomo Tribune, it was from reporter to computer keyboard to photo paper to full page paste ups to camera to full page negatives to press plates to, finally, a high speed offset press…… then on to delivery trucks for carrying to over 200 mostly teenage newspaper carriers and to subscribers’ door steps. That was the system.

Huge change has taken place. Now news starts with the reporter with final page design and layout (pagination) being done right in the newsroom. The image goes directly to machines that produce the press plates; then on to the press. The teenage carrier system has all but disappeared. Press runs are typically at night and delivery is by adult carriers in cars. But there is more: electronic media.

Even in the classroom, students were accessing news only minutes old via cell phones and computers. Social media and electronic delivery of news are the ways of today. Newsprint and ink have had to take a back seat and will likely remain that way.

I must tell you, though, that for this old dog the sounds of a press, the smells of paper and ink, and the joy of holding a newspaper in hand will never fade. Newspapers were the historical record and conscience of a community. I am not sure how this will ever be replaced.

Thank you, Dr. Erin Doss for an enjoyable, enlightening semester for this dinosaur.

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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