Southern Oregon University is dropping its student newspaper, The Siskiyou, after 90 years because few students are interested in studying journalism any longer. But the move is short-sighted.
The Siskiyou, which dropped its print edition in 2012, is produced by a credited class that attracted only eight students this term.
SOU bears some of the responsibility for that decline. The communications department stopped emphasizing journalism in 2014, instead offering areas of emphasis in communication studies, digital cinema, and social media and public engagement.
We are the first to admit the newspaper industry is not what it once was. Students can hardly be blamed for looking toward more promising career paths. But as newspaper readership has declined, online voices have proliferated, and jobs are there for those with the right skills.
The university's mistake is in supposing that a field of study called "social media and public engagement" need not include journalism. Social media too often consists of engagement without facts.
The ability to gather information, make sense of it and communicate it clearly to readers, watchers and listeners is more important than ever.
Nearly 15,000 people read articles in The Siskiyou online in February. The publication clearly fills a need for information on campus and in the wider community.
If SOU wants communication graduates who know how to communicate, a solid grounding in journalism is not only advisable, it should be required.