Speakers say journalism, mass media in transition

Two former Amarillo College students – both members of the AC Mass Comm Wall of Fame – spoke at AC this semester. Ben Sargent, a political cartoonist from Austin, spoke for the finale of the 2014 Creative Mind Lecture Series. Jason Boyett, a writer for Amarillo Magazine among other jobs, was a guest speaker the same day.

|Jason Boyett speaks to students on the Washington Street Campus.|
Vanessa Garcia | The Ranger
|Jason Boyett speaks to students on the Washington Street Campus.|

One spoke about editorial cartoons. The other spoke about magazines. Both speakers acknowledged changes in journalism in today’s virtual world.

“We’re in a really weird age right now where the way people consume news has changed,” Boyett said in the News Reporting and Writing II class Feb. 13. “The way reporters convey news is changing.”

At the Downtown Campus, Sargent, a 1982 Pulitzer Prize Winner, spoke about traditional journalism transitioning into digital journalism. He said readers are consuming the news differently.

“Nothing endures but change,” Sargent said. “The digital era has to establish itself.”

Boyett said online publications are asking print journalists to write more vibrant and descriptive stories and that magazine journalists have to write the way they usually do, but shorter.

Sargent said the consumer views on cartoons have changed because of the news being available online. He said cartoonists have to find their way in today’s digital media.

“(Journalism is) moving from traditional to the digital era,” said Judy Carter, Honors Program coordinator. “It’s interesting to see how that transitions.”

Boyett is a marketing and advertising professional and a professional copy writer. He has authored 12 books, is a graphic designer and has been featured as a religion expert on the History Channel and other networks. He was the AC Current editor and a news editor for The Ranger in 1995.

He also ghost-writes for celebrities and blogs by updating their Facebook status, tweeting, blogging and starting trends.

“I’m a very powerful mommy blogger,” he said. “That’s an interesting aspect of writing today.”

Vanessa Garcia | The Ranger |Ben Sargent speaks for the 2014 Creative Mind Lecture Series.|
Vanessa Garcia | The Ranger
|Ben Sargent speaks for the 2014 Creative Mind Lecture Series.|

Sargent, editor of The Ranger in the 1960s, has not completely adjusted to digital media and said he is the “last of the old ones” in going digital. He said he grew up in a “newspaper family.”

The other two speakers for the Creative Lecture Series were Dr. David Rausch Jr. and Dr. Bradford Mudge. All three spoke about political cartoons, then and now.

Sargent said a cartoon’s purpose is to establish to readers why it is important to care about current events. His Pulitzer was based on work he did during the Reagan administration.

“There is always something to be cartooned about,” Sargent said.

Sargent said editorial cartoonists and editorial page writers are the only types of journalist who are expected to have an opinion and that everyone else is supposed to be unbiased.

“If you were truly politically agnostic, your credibility will suffer,” Sargent said. “This (editorial cartooning) is really coming from a point of view that’s thought out.”

His Ranger cartoon about AC parking now hangs in the newsroom in Parcells Hall. He said it is nice to see that nothing has changed. “Some issues like that just never go away,” Sargent said.

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