The journalism program and Laramie County Community College began in fall 1969, with 12 courses listed in the first catalog. The college director of public information taught introduction to mass media and the reporting courses and advised the student newspaper, while local media professionals taught courses in photography, advertising and broadcasting.
By the fall of 1976, a new director of public information/journalism instructor/publications adviser with strong news/editorial credentials, Rosalind Routt, now Schliske, was hired, and the student publication was revitalized under a new name, Wingspan, and under a newsmagazine format. Journalism students worked in practicum experiences in the local news media; they participated in campus activities by holding media workshops, such as with a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer; organizing political candidates’ debates on campus; hosting an annual dance to raise money to attend journalism conferences; and they participated in community and campus cultural events by folding old-fashioned press hats for children and making presentations to junior and senior high school classes.
The regular publication of the newsmagazine, the increase in enrollment, and the sheer number of activities coming from the journalism department contributed a year and a half later to the administration’s hiring of another instructor, who had extensive background in public relations, advertising and photography.
In the 1982 fall semester, the college president asked Schliske to assume full-time public information duties; thus the second instructor became the journalism program’s first full-time instructor. That arrangement remained until the fall semester 1984 when the second instructor resigned. Schliske was allowed to return to the full-time instructor’s position.
At that same time, the recently hired publications editor, Jim Weis, began to teach the photography class. In subsequent years, the number of photography sections has grown, with many students signing up for advanced work whether in darkroom techniques or photocomposition. For many years, a student photography contest was held every semester, with the winning photos published in the local newspaper. Weis retired in May 2004.
Another major turning point in the program occurred during the spring 1988 semester when the first desktop publishing class was offered using computers in the Business Division. The response was so great that an advanced DTP class was added. Increasingly, the department is looked upon from the community as being on the technological edge, and a multimedia degree option is now offered. The name of the program was changed from journalism to Mass Media/Multimedia to reflect the broader scope of the curriculum.
Coming full circle in fall 2009, J.L. O’Brien, who had been editor in 1999, returned to LCCC as instructor of multimedia and adviser to Wingspan Online.