Friday, April 11, 2014

Grady College, Conspiracies, and the Tinfoil Hat Crowd

A week from today the faculty of Grady College will meet to decide between essentially two structural changes:
  • Option 1: Merge the Department of Journalism and the Department of Telecommunications into one department.
  • Option 2: Merge the Digital and Broadcast Journalism portion of Tele (five, maybe six faculty) with Journalism to create a news-oriented department, and create a Media Arts (placeholder name) department focused on entertainment and related critical/cultural interests.

Ad/PR, being practically perfect in every way, would remain the same. Any tinkering there will probably come later as we deep dive into curriculum issues.

Seems a straightforward choice, right? Option 1 gives us two honking big departments of equal weight, at least in terms of number of faculty. Option 2 gives us Ad/PR as it is, focused on persuasion, and a news-oriented department focused on non-fiction storytelling, and a media arts department that will do all kinds of interesting things, from documentaries to screenwriting to, oh hell, all kinds of stuff. And it's the department with the most room to grow, with the right leadership, especially if we pursue a media studies major that is non-skill related, as well as media literacy courses.

In full disclosure, I favor Option 2. Because I'm rational.

Now let's talk about the irrational, the tinfoil hat conspiracists out there asking for membership lists of the committee that hammered out these details or the vitae of all the journalism faculty. You know who the hell you are. Please, on Friday, wear the tinfoil hats so everyone else knows. This has been the most transparent process at Grady I've seen in ages, and I've been here 23 years. The TV station? Not a damn thing transparent about that, and yet some who favor Option 1 or see boogie men and a lack of transparency -- ironically they were involved in the TV disaster. Funny, little ironies like that. Or how they complain about the non-transparent makeup of one committee -- with three Tele faculty -- but think the other committee -- with three Tele faculty -- is just fine.

Am I being hard on a few well-meaning faculty who prefer Option 1? A little. There are good, though not persuasive, reasons to favor two big departments. I've discussed them earlier and I see no reason to go over them again.Needless to say, the committee hashing this out -- running focus groups and holding a college-wide discussion -- voted unanimously for the three-department solution.

Lemme say that again. Unanimously.

Friday is going to be great fun. Maybe I'll live tweet it.

Even better, Thursday at 5 p.m., before the full college meeting, we'll meet as a department to hash out any concerns because, ya know, nothing transparent about that.


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