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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Commentary – Accessing our Community

As a response to recent concerns regarding UMB’s role in the community, on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 the Office of the Chancellor, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of Service Learning & Community Outreach presented “Beyond our Backyard: A Community Orientation at UMB – What Difference Do You Make?”

After each group of panelists from three kinds of outreach programs, Youth Development, Environmental Concerns, and Hunger and Homelessness, the floor was opened for questions mediated by Joyce Morgan – director of Student Life and co-chair of the Campus Community Team.

The first question came from our president of the student government, Joseph Panciotti. He seemed quite upset about the lack of student representation at the event from “the commercial media.” I can’t figure out if this type of lingo is a requirement to become a quasi-politician or something they teach to politicians in training.

After this comment he continued by delivering a diatribe about the absence of community outreach topics from the media. In fact, it seemed as if he was alluding that The Mass Media had no interest in writing about the positive things that UMB does. Wait, is this a question and answer session or a bitch and moan session? As this “question” was not directed at any panelist member our leader Chancellor Gora stepped up to bat. It might have been more appropriate to hold up a piñata representing The Mass Media. She commented how there was no way to control what was written in the media and that you could “Ask any journalist or reporter and they will agree that bad news sells better than good news.”

The irony in all of this is that there were in fact four members of The Mass Media present during this event. First, writer Jessica Burke was present and wrote an article on the event. Also, Managing Editor Jason Campos and photographer Will Gray were present to take a few pictures. And finally, I was present out of general interest.

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to Panciotti and Gora’s rants. It seems as if these two suffer from a mild case of “self absorption.” Never mind the entire arts section, there are many articles frequently written in the news section that are about the progress and development that our educators and researchers have made. It doesn’t seem appropriate to these writers to taint the vision of The Mass Media to members of our collective community.

J. Stone Laraway brought up two interesting questions. First, he inquired about the teachings of academic integrity, in particular plagiarism, within the Youth Development group. Student John Huth pointed out that a general lack of knowledge for making citations amongst his students had required him to spend a significant amount of time teaching the subject matter.

Second he inquired about a source of feedback from the community about these partnerships. Joan Arches expressed her desire to have a physical space where people can go to learn about the activities and progress that UMass is making within the communities.

This brief discussion prompted me to trek through the most frequently traveled source of information – the internet. First I sought out The Food Project, a community partnership with the Environmental Studies program. Although their website was easy to find, there was no mention about a partnership with UMB. Searching through UMB’s website also provided no information about any partnership with the Food Project.

Next I sought information of the community involvement with the Nursing program. The only clear description came from an archived article from the University Reporter, written by Professor Linda Dumas herself. I searched the Pine Street Inn’s website briefly and was unable to find a clear mention of an association with UMB. In fairness, the Nursing program has many connections within the community and at other websites this may be mentioned. However, clear and easy-to-find explanations of our established partnerships within the community on UMB’s and their respective department web pages could facilitate the transfer of knowledge.