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FHSU appoints media task force

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

With the Fort Hays State University Leader newspaper's last print edition in the record books, FHSU President Edward H. Hammond has appointed a task force to consider a new direction for campus news media.

Hammond said the Leader closure didn't come as a surprise because Leader representatives had "asked if the university would fund them for the remainder of the semester. I made the decision not to proceed at that point."

He has appointed a task force to develop recommendations "aimed at increasing student engagement, and implementing a multimedia model for dissemination of student-produced news, information analysis, opinion and entertainment."

A first step will be a Docking Insitute survey of students, faculty and staff preferences.

"I truly hope the entire university community will get engaged in the discussion," Hammond said.

FHSU also is planning a symposium in March to bring in representatives in the field. Hammond said Hays Daily News Publisher Patrick Lowry, a Lawrence Journal World representative and others from area newspapers, electronic news and other outlets will be invited.

When asked by an audience member about print journalism alumni responses to the Leader closure, Hammond said he had expected to hear some negative comments, but hadn't heard any.

"As I talk to alums active in the business, it is quite evident to me that the industry has changed a lot," he said.

Paul Faber, College of Arts & Sciences dean, will chair the task force.

Other members are Scott Robson, communications studies chairman; Stephen Schleicher, informatics chairman; Ron Rohlf, informatics instructor; Chapman Rackaway, associate professor of political science; Shana Meyer, assistant vice president of student affairs; Jennifer Robinson, graphics and animation specialist in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, and two students, Gentry Heimerman, Halstead junior, and Matthew Whitmore, St. Francis senior.

When asked why none of the Leader staff were on the task force, Hammond said no one from campus radio, television, newspaper and electronic media were included because it could be "viewed as bias."

He has asked the task force for a recommendation by April 19.