Farewell Professor Baird!

Humberto Mendez
December 12, 2008
Filed under Uncategorized

This is not only the last issue from this semester of the Santa Monica College Corsair, but also the last issue that Professor Barbara Baird will have the pleasure of over seeing. After 20 year s of teaching at SMC, Prof. Baird is retiring.

“I’m looking forward t o unscheduled days. More leisure time to read and relax, maybe eventually take some classes on history or literature,” said Baird, or Miss B, as she’s affectionately called by her students in Journalism 16 and 17, the newspaper writing/ editing classes she has taught for the past 16 years. “Maybe even scientific classes, take advantage of the resources SMC has, attended lectures, to keep on learning.”

In class, Miss B is always pushing her students to excel, bring their own ideas for stories, expand the diversity of the students and instill a desire to always improve the paper.

“No one is completely objective,” Miss B said about the current state of news media, “but there is still an standard of accuracy and fairness. [A standard] to get both sides of the story and many sources to stop the bias.”

Miss B started her involvement with SMC as a guest lecturer talking about her experiences as a reporter in the field. Miss B was assigned to cover the Westside section of the L.A. Times, which included Santa Monica.

“[It] was a great wonderful way to have a work life, to meet new people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Miss B said. “It gives you the freedom to ask a lot of questions.”

During her time working for the Times, some of the topics Miss B wrote about included housing trends in Santa Monica, Malibu beaches and the controversy of what is public versus private. “Lots of powerful people and celebrities,” said Miss B, “and al so more socially relevant issues, such as the homeless.”

After 21 years of working for the Times, and many stints as a guest lecturer, Miss B decided to teach at SMC “I always liked sharing my experiences with the students and the whole [school] environment.” She started teaching Journalism 1, later becoming the advisor to the Corsair, bringing her experience and approach to reporting the news. In 1998, Miss B became the Department Chair of Communications.

Miss B leaves the Corsair at a time when print journalism is incorporating more multimedia aspects into its reporting. Reporters a r e expected to take a more active role by taking their own pictures and video as the internet is becoming the preferred way for the public to get its news, not only local and national, but from around the world.

“It’s such a stressful time in news media today because of the internet technology and the threat it poses to paper news. The web poses challenges to the way people want to get their news.” Miss B said. “[These are] bittersweet times; there are lots of opportunities, but lots of people are being let go from their jobs as well.”

But readers of the print Corsair don’t have to fear about its extinction just yet. “The Corsair will remain in print. This is a way for the campus and community to share information, as well as a way to generate advertising revenue, as online advertising has not found a way to make as much money.” Money and profit is also a major reason why many newspaper s are disappearing from their print incarnations and becoming online only publications.

There will be changes now that Miss B is leaving, but they will hopefully be for the best. There is currently a lack of communication between the print and online classes since the online Corsair meets at the Bundy Campus. Professor Saul Rubin, who is taking over as the Corsair advisor as well as the online Corsair advisor position, said that “next semester both classes will take place at the main campus, hopefully closing the cur rent communication gap between the two publications.”

Prof. Frank Dawson is now the Department Chair of Communications and Prof. Saul Rubin is taking over duties as the Corsair advisor. “With his experience as a columnist and as a news reporter, Prof Rubin was a good choice,” said Miss B.

Dawson, Miss B’s successor who also attended the same university as she, said that “she has provided solid leadership for the entire time.” Aside from sharing the same alma mater, Dawson also said that “[Miss B and I] share similar opinions about the importance of media and the need for media literacy… I’m really going to miss her. We have a very strong personal friendship and it’s been very rewarding for me. She has worked so hard and she really deserves to go into retirement, even though I didn’t think she would ever retire.”

“I’m so proud of what we have achieved with all the students’ efforts. It’s been great. I’d like to encourage the Corsair to keep working on accurately reporting the stories that are important to our students, faculty and staff,” Miss B said. “Some Tuesday nights I may come over to the Corsair. I know I’ll miss it, it’s been kind of my life there.”

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