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Media experts discuss industry trends

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The Fort Hays State University media symposium Tuesday night offered a look at the media from those who have made it a career.

FHSU President Edward H. Hammond appointed a task force in February to make recommendations on the dissemination of news and information after the Student Government Association cut funding for the student newspaper, the University Leader, for the current school year.

SGA restored the Leader's funding for the 2013-14 school year, and the student newspaper tentatively plans to resume printing in the fall.

The symposium was moderated by Kent Steward, FHSU director of University Relations. Panelists were Scott Reinardy, associate professor and chairman of the News and Information Track in the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas; Ralph Gage, director of special projects for the Lawrence Journal-World; Patrick Lowry, editor and publisher of The Hays Daily News and past president of the Kansas Press Association; Laura York Guy, media instructor and media adviser at Garden City Community College, member of the National Scholastic Press Association board of directors and first vice president of Kansas Collegiate Media; and Gary Shorman, president and CEO of Eagle Communications.

Prepared topics covered the future of newspapers, the need for multimedia, the relationship between FHSU media and community media and the University's target audience.

Much of people's information comes from newspapers, Guy said.

"I don't see newspapers going away," she said.

While some newspapers might have faltered in some areas, "journalism is strong in this state," Lowry said.

Members of the baby boomer generation favor print products but can become comfortable with a multimedia product, Gage said.

He advised providing "information to people on the device they are most comfortable with when they want it."

Chapman Rackaway, a task force member and FHSU political science professor, asked the panel to identify what the Leader's content should be.

The method for delivering the information might change, but "it's the content that I'd really like us to get a focus on," he said.

"I don't think you can ever forfeit your basic journalistic tenets -- accuracy, reporting facts, talking with people and telling good stories," Reinardy said.

"Basic tenets make you a reliable news source. It comes down to producing good, reliable, fact-based, accurate content. I don't think that changes regardless of platform."

Reinardy said training remains essential, and the market remains strong for students exiting the KU program with such training, noting the school has a placement rate exceeding 80 percent.

"This was a great think piece I think, but now we want to get those specific hits," Rackaway said. "The task force has a lot to mull over."

Members of the task force are Rackaway; Paul Faber, College of Arts and Sciences dean; Scott Robson, Department of Communication Studies chairman; Stephen Schleicher, Department of Informatics chairman; Ron Rohlf, informatics instructor; Shana Meyer, assistant vice president of student affairs; Jennifer Robinson, graphics and animation specialist in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technology; and students Gentry Heimerman and Matthew Whitmore.

Recommendations are due to the administration April 19.

A town hall-style meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Black and Gold room of the Memorial Union to further discuss the future of FHSU media studies.