Journalism classes still have value

As co-editor of the Dodger (the newspaper at Dodge City High School), a person interested in staying informed about current events, and someone who feels passionate about journalism, I am appalled by the Kansas Department of Education's (KSDE) decision to cut off journalism and yearbook courses from future funding. Their reasons for doing so are even more ridiculous.

The idea and function of journalism is to inform the public about issues of prominence to the readers; it's in our paper's editorial policy, and in the editorial policy of hundreds of other student- and business-run publications throughout the nation, and, undoubtedly, the world. If we allow KSDE (which already has done a hatchet-job on education) to eliminate the ability for students to explore, learn about and gain experience in the journalism field, we are doing ourselves a grave disservice.

Additionally, without the necessary tools (read: "funding") and knowledge necessary to produce stories, publications and the like, to inform others about news, events and issues of public interest, students will no longer have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of writing, designing, reporting or editing for a publication.

But, a passion to write, design, report or edit for a publication can be much more than just a passion.

According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, "news analysts, reporters and correspondents held about 69,300 jobs in 2008. About 53 percent worked for newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers." That equates to approximately 35,000 careers that may not exist in the next few years if students do not have access to the education they need to excel in this field.

So, the KSDE still says that journalism doesn't "lead directly to occupations?"

To those that say journalism and the print media are dying, I say "hogwash." If anything, the increasingly rapid change to online publication and other forms of media is good for the industry. This change makes publications easily accessible, interactive and exciting venues. In fact, the Dodger itself is available online (www.dchsdodger.com). The production process has given all on staff valuable experience in web production, tighter deadlines and different means of presentation.

I have gotten more out of my journalism courses than other classes in high school. Under the excellent instruction of Cindy Moore, publications teacher at Dodge City High School and adviser for the newspaper and yearbook, I have gained invaluable experience in writing, editing, and producing quality publications read by thousands.

Think about what would happen if this newspaper you are currently reading stopped being delivered, or if the morning and evening news programs you watch were no longer broadcast. How would you find out what was going on around you? How would you get your news? Simply put, "you wouldn't." Not if KSDE goes ahead with their plans to choke off the opportunity for high school students to gain experience and knowledge in a field that we all use and appreciate, but that we many times take for granted. Journalism is in and of itself a public service, and it is unconscionable that we would let it die.

LUKE A. BUNKER,

Dodge City

Plant would take too much water

I am a farmer born and raised in western Kansas. I live five miles north of the Sunflower plant. In 1945, my dad bought this farm. At that time the water level was four foot from the top of the ground. Today it is 80 feet to the water.

Sunflower personnel say that the water is not dropping. Since 1945, Kansas has been in debate with Colorado over water issues. In the 1990s we received a partial settlement from Colorado. Now we are going to give Colorado about 80 percent back via electricity. Western Kansas needs to preserve for future generations. Farmers use water for irrigation about 110 to 130 days a year. Sunflower uses water 365 days a year. This will double with the new addition. Let Sunflower build this plant at Hays or Colorado. They receive more precipitation than we do. Our commissioners are in favor of this plant. State legislators and U.S. senators also are in favor. All of their concern is money, not western Kansas residents. We cannot eat or drink money.

A.S. KNOLL,

Garden City