Durant native Joe Foote will become interim dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication effective Aug. 16, replacing its first dean Charles Self. After directing the journalism school at Arizona State University and serving as Southern Illinois University's first dean of its College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Foote returned to his alma mater in Norman hoping to put administration behind him and get back into teaching. Oh well. The author, professor, former journalist recently chatted with the Norman Transcript.

NT: It's been quite the four years since the college began. What, in your opinion, needs to be done for that next step to keep momentum going?

JF: The Gaylord College is receiving a tremendous amount of attention around the country because of this beautiful building (Gaylord Hall), because of the Gaylord endowment, because of the good things that have been done under Charles Self's leadership. I think the two most important things we need to do are to strengthen the undergraduate programs in all the areas and provide more services to students, to give them a greater sense of community and make them a more integral part of everything we do. And also to implement a Ph.D. program, which is already in the works.

NT: You have a broadcast journalism background. When you look at the landscape of broadcast journalism, both on radio and TV, where do you see it right now ? not that it's a broad question.

JF: That is a broad question. One thing is broadcast journalism is higher quality than people give it credit for overall. There is a lot of good journalism being done. Lot of bad journalism too. What really worries me the most is the lack of news gathering capacity in the world, primarily internationally. The television networks have almost unilaterally withdrawn from covering the world, putting only a token number of people in the field. I think this is symptomatic of some problems domestically, too, that there is too little emphasis on news gathering and too much emphasis on news processing.

NT: Isn't that a bit odd when you consider the whole 24-hour news cycle and it seems people are scrambling to put something on the air all the time.

JF: But most of it is re-processed content. They're not going out and gathering new material, finding new stories necessarily. They are repurposing what's already there, or they are putting on opinion programs that talk a lot about the news but don't go out and try to gathering it in a systematic way.

NT: So if you were the CEO of CNN or Fox or whatever, how would you revamp the news gathering process?

JF: Well with CNN, I would have the courage to keep doing what I was doing and having the largest number of correspondents of any American network ... in this country and throughout the world, and not be tempted to go the way of the others. And if I were Fox, I would develop news gathering capability because it's very thin. Fox has few people gathering the news and a lot of people talking about it.

NT: What is your assessment of local broadcast news?

JF: Local news, generally, has overreacted to being live and being up-to-the-minute, and this causes them to focus on trivial matters that within an hour would not be considered newsworthy by anyone. The same complaint with too much crime reporting, too much sensational traffic reporting and not enough substance issues that really matter to the community. But I have to say from my observation of the Oklahoma City market, that is less of a problem here than many other places where I've lived and worked. I've always thought the Oklahoma City market is a news market better than its size.

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