Noted professor sees changing future for community journalism

By Maura Wery

A Manhattan man whose career in journalism education and literature gained him national recognition told an audience of community journalists here Wednesday that modern technology is affecting both society and small-town journalism.

“The period we live in might be as important as the Industrial Revolution,” said David Dary, former dean of the Gaylord School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma. A Manhattan High School graduate voted onto that institution’s Wall of Fame a few years ago, Dary is a former reporter for CBS radio, professor for several years at the University of Kansas and the author of numerous books. He also served as director of the Gaylord School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma.

“The internet today is like when radio happened in the 1940s,” Dary told his audience at the annual Huck Boyd Lecture on Community Journalism. The event is staged by the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism at K-State to honor the memory of Boyd, for many years a Kansas newspaper editor.

“Dramatic change occurs when the old ways encounter new technology and change and its impact on newspapers has been significant,” Dary said.

He warned listeners against the concept of “literacy ignorance” among young people and stressed factual, engaging and logical writing.

“The writer must rouse the emotions of things that, were at first, not of interest to the reader,” Dary said. He also urged young people to think critically and to question everything. Even “question what you hear in lectures like these.”

Dary said that with the development of text messaging and social media the constant two-way conversation is destroying face-to-face conversation, in turn causing a more crass and classless society. But despite technology’s flaws, Dary also spoke of the ways it has helped journalists and news media sources and how it is shaping the new forms of journalism. He admitted that the future of print media is somewhat dim, but said if the print entities become electronic, he is not worried about their future.

“I cannot imagine a world without printed newspapers,” Dary said. He acknowledged they could vanish at some point in the future, but added “the community papers will still remain the core of community journalism,” as will community reporters creating the “bread and butter” of their content.

Dary’s experience with both history and journalism has led him to write more than 20 books and 200 articles about the subjects. A portion of them, along with his research were to be on display at Hale Library after the lecture.

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