Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 1, 2013

Save IU School of Journalism

By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor

Kokomo — As the doors swing to a close, the pens held at the hands of journalists aren’t writing, the recorders aren’t rolling and the cameras aren’t capturing. The envelope of Indiana University School of Journalism’s future is unfolding, but the details are sealed tightly by Lauren Robel, Indiana University Provost, who recommended the school merge with Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) last week — expelling the journalistic institution from its Ernie Pyle Hall home and potentially downgrading the nationally-ranked school to a program within the bigger-is-better school of thought.

Robel silenced the voices of objectivity, by refusing the presence of journalists inside the publicly-funded school’s Feb. 21 meeting. The afternoon meeting was held within the historic walls of Ernie Pyle Hall, which houses Indiana University’s newspaper and the students, who are getting a firsthand experience into why their moments inside Ernie Pyle Hall are momentously important, even if Robel thinks those moments should be concluded.

Robel, instead of allowing reporters to do their jobs, chose to send out a letter and posted it to Indiana University School of Journalism’s website, outlining her abrupt and overnight decision to recommend the merger with IU School of Journalism — which she incorrectly stated was the smallest school on IU’s campus.

Without a reporter to ask for the answers and demand accountable dialogue, the reader was simply left with more questions as Robel defended her decision to rid Ernie Pyle Hall of its young minds with four paragraphs about Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies; Robel talks about the school in length ranging from the political leaders involved and the programs available.

Robel never answers the real why. Never answers what will happen to Ernie Pyle Hall. Never answers when the potential change could happen.

And never answers how devaluing a nationally-recognized school into a program within the COAS could recruit and produce journalists able to craft compelling content that inspires and informs.  

These are the basic questions of journalism that students and alumni, such as myself, learned in the rooms of Ernie Pyle Hall. We went into the school with the putty of learning and we came out with a final product that was crafted by the curriculum, guided by the worldly experience of our professors and fed by the home we had inside Ernie Pyle Hall. It was within the building, which was named after a man whose journalistic career was so inspiring it built the walls of a haven that would build the careers of minds made to find the answers to the hows, whys, whats and whens of the world.

Stepping back IU School of Journalism to a program, despite consistent enrollment numbers, is a step back in society. Just as journalists demand the answers, we also must demand the tools to continue crafting the education of journalists in a progressive world. Journalism isn’t dying, it’s being diluted with biased reporting, unchecked facts and blogs boasting only of opinions.

To counter the changing scheme of journalism with consolidation, as Robel recommends, is weakening the power of accountability and strengthening the potential for power to be used unjustly. Robel’s refusal to allow reporters to report, and inviting herself to take control of the dialogue in the form of a letter is written proof we need IU School of Journalism. We need the answers and, more than anything, we need the educational institution that is IU School of Journalism to teach our future generations how to ask the questions.

— Lindsay Eckert

[friday] editor/ Alumna who wants answers

For more information about the merger and how you can submit a letter to the Board of Trustees, visit journalism.indiana.edu.