Alamo Colleges leadership pledges support to continue student media

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The chancellor wants to explore creating a comprehensive media program across the district.

By Sergio Medina

smedina104@student.alamo.edu

An Oct. 7 statement by Dr. Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges, pledged to maintain student media after the student publication, The Ranger, broke the news Oct. 5 of its ending operations in December.

The statement, published on the district’s social media accounts, reads:

On Oct. 7, 2021, The Alamo Colleges published a statement on continuing student media after The Ranger’s end of operations in December. Press to enlarge. Courtesy

“While The Ranger is in transition at San Antonio College, the leadership of the Alamo Colleges District is reimagining a student journalism experience powered by the strengths of each of our five colleges, supported by faculty, staff and professionals in the industry, and open to students at any of the Alamo Colleges.”

In an interview Oct. 7, Flores said communications has evolved rapidly over the course of the past two decades, presenting a turning point that gives the district an opportunity to consult with students, faculty and professionals on what a journalism program and student media may look like past December.

The district plans to create an Alamo Colleges student media lab, said Kristi Wyatt, vice chancellor of communications and engagement, in an Oct. 7 interview.

“It is a call to action to our local media,” she said.

“This is an open call to all media professionals throughout San Antonio who have an interest in bringing their knowledge to the table and working with our students in providing access to students for experiential learning opportunities or even just their expertise on new and emerging trends.”

Wyatt said it’s only in concept, with no specific procedures or location yet assigned for these discussions.

“I know Dr. Flores is eager to get started,” she added.

Though no plans are yet established to open the forum to the public, Wyatt said she expects students and any interested party to be able to participate.

Flores said he has begun reaching out to communications professionals, expecting the discussions to happen in November and January.

Flores also said he plans to contact faculty from the five colleges to engage.

He said he envisions a co-creation among stakeholders to visualize a new journalism and communications academic experience that would honor the legacy of The Ranger.

Flores said discussions with field professionals and faculty on rising trends in journalism and communications will help advise his administration on how to properly fund and promote the program to students.

“I think it would be a good opportunity, if we could provide a robust student journalism and communications experience for students at all five of the colleges.”

The ideal scenario would be to reorganize student media that encompasses print, radio, TV and digital media, Flores said.

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He said efforts to hire faculty to run a journalism program and student media would go beyond this college.

“I’m in conversations with Dr. (Robert) Vela, and I think it’d be also important, not only for those faculty positions at SAC, but also to talk with faculty and administration from all five of the colleges.”

Flores recognized the “outstanding” work The Ranger has accomplished over its 95-year history by producing professional journalists as well as keeping the district informed.

“The award-winning publication has provided hands-on and practical skills, as a part of the San Antonio College journalism program, that has laid the foundation of the careers to some of the most valued journalists across the nation,” the statement read.

The statement comes two days after Vela emailed a letter to employees and students stating the college has no intention of discontinuing student journalism.

Vela was again unavailable for comment.

Flores said he is unaware of any plans to rebrand The Ranger.

This college dropped its Ranger mascot in summer 2020 following complaints from students and faculty about the Texas Ranger’s troubled past involving racism and discrimination toward people of color in the 20th century.  

The college changed the mascot to armadillos in May after surveying three rounds of voting from the public, employees and student body, respectively.

Flores said, “I couldn’t say that there is a plan to rebrand. I think it is, ‘How can we ensure that we provide students with a first-rate experience that honors the legacy of The Ranger but also ensures students from all five colleges have an opportunity to experience journalism and communications?’

“And also, that we’re able to enlist professionals within the field, who perhaps are alumni of The Ranger and San Antonio College but also from the other colleges, and perhaps professionals who graduated from other programs but want to give back to students in the field right now.”

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