Fresno State students – count your lucky stars. Two of the best at what they do are joining the university’s faculty this semester.
I’m talking about Jim Boren and Donald Munro.
I got an email from a colleague in the Department of Media, Communications & Journalism announcing the hiring of the two veteran journalists.
Jim will be teaching MCJ 102W – reporting. Donald will be teaching MCJ 104 – editing of publications. Jim and Donald are joining the best MCJ department in America. Not the biggest, true – but No. 1 in my book.
Spring semester 2018 begins on Tuesday.
Jim Boren needs no introduction. He is on the verge of retiring as The Fresno Bee’s executive editor. I’ve described him in the past as The Valley’s preeminent print journalist. I am right. He’s got more than 50 years of ink-stained excellence under his belt.
I remember sitting with Jim and Jerry Tarkanian at the old Silver Dollar Hofbrau in the spring of 1995. It was strictly a business meeting. Tark was in town because he was about to be hired as the Fresno State men’s basketball coach. I was The Bee’s beat writer for the team. Jim was there to do an A-1 feature on Tark and what the future might hold.
Tark held court, as you might expect. Jim asked a question here and there. He wrote a bit in his notepad. I watched and wondered: How is Boren going to compress the force that is Tark into a readable story?
Jim’s A-1 piece was one for the ages.
(A quick aside: For reasons that are as mysterious as human nature, most of Jim’s newsroom colleagues called him “Boren” outside of his presence. “What’s Boren working on?” “Did you check it out with Boren?” “I’ll bet Boren has the phone number.” It wasn’t disrespect. Just the opposite. There was something about Jim that made him a “last name” kind of guy.)
Donald Munro doesn’t need much of a windup, either. He’s now retired from The Bee. While at the paper, he knew more about the arts and humanities than anyone else in the Valley. He put most of what he knew in the paper.
Donald Munro enriched our social order.
Now, someone might suggest that I’m jumping the gun by writing about these two hires based on an in-house email. Well, I walked to City Hall on Thursday afternoon. Folks at City Hall, waiting for the City Council to come out of closed session, were already talking about the new gigs for Jim and Donald.
There are no secrets in this digitized-networked world. News spreads at the speed of light. No one has total control of content and distribution.
This new and perplexing world for journalism is another good reason for Fresno State to hire Jim Boren and Donald Munro. Their analytical skills should come in handy.
The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper/news platform, is at a crossroads. Its future is uncertain. Powerful forces are battering the paper.
There’s nothing unusual or wrong with that. The “creative destruction” that fuels modern life applies to everything and everyone, including award-winning college newspapers.
I won’t burden you with all the issues at play. Money, of course, is on the list. So, too, are governance and accountability and transparency and mission.
The MCJ Department has created an in-house task force to study everything. I’m sure that students, faculty and staff throughout the university will add their two cents to the project. Fresno State is a Valley treasure; for that reason, I’m guessing the general public also will get a chance to weigh in. After all, The Collegian is a prime example of how the First Amendment operates on a campus that ultimately belongs to The People.
The task force has a tough job. Jim Boren and Donald Munro spent their professional careers tackling tough jobs.
To use a metaphor that Tark would appreciate, I hope they’re in the task force’s starting lineup.