Journalism concentration keeps up with media trends

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Ghianda Becerril
Contributing Writer

The journalism concentration at the University of Dallas offers a variety of courses that enable students to learn about the future of the news media as the audience continues to shift from print to digital platforms.

The program was first introduced to UD in 1989. Since then many classes have been offered, such as reporting, editing, history of journalism, survey of mass media, magazine writing, social media/digital journalism, and journalism ethics.

“At UD, we like to think that, through our curriculum, students can learn different values and apply them later on,” said Constantin College Dean Charles Eaker. “The journalism program is there to help students take what they have learned and apply it to the way that reporting is done in today’s world.”

Professor Ray Wilkerson, who coordinates the concentration, said that students who don’t intend to become journalists can benefit from the journalism courses at UD.

“The concentration gives students – no matter their primary area of study – insight into the fundamental role that effective journalism plays in all levels of American life,” said Wilkerson.

One of the most recent additions to the program, a social media and journalism course offered by Yahoo! Editor Jason Sickles provides, insights on how journalism is changing.

Sickles came to UD to broaden the program by introducing new trends in media and communications. While only in its second semester, the size of the class grew from six to 15 students between its first and second semester.

“We cover a variety of media topics in the class,” said Sickles. “We learn how to write for web, how to micro-blog [with] Twitter.”

The social media class provides students with a good understanding of how journalism is changing, according to Sickles. It gives students the valuable tools needed for modern journalism.

Social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, have increased the opportunities for reporters and journalists to keep the public informed and have made print media less attractive, according to Sickles.

“Technology is evolving,” said Sickles. “Social media is making journalism better. Nowadays anyone can be a reporter, but journalism is a two-way street. With social media growing, it will be hard for print journalism to compete.”

The social media revolution enables journalists to brand themselves online and develop their unique persona in the web, according to Sickles.

Wilkerson said that the quest for truth is the underlying premise of the concentration.

“That’s what the journalism concentration addresses in its coursework: that the search for truth is an imperative,” said Wilkerson. “Truth is the first among the many elements of journalism that must be preserved and protected on behalf of the citizens.”

It is the combination of the UD core curriculum and the knowledge and techniques that the journalism concentration offers that gives students the opportunity to succeed as media professionals.

“I’ve found that I greatly benefited from the combination of UD’s core, a major in politics and a concentration in journalism,” said Michelle Bauman, a 2011 alumna who works in Washington, D.C., for Catholic News Agency and EWTN news.

“It allowed me to take the ideas I had learned in the classroom and put them into practice on a daily basis,” she added. “It also helped me look ahead to jobs after college.”

For his part, Sickles dispelled the notion that journalism is an industry without a future.

“Journalism is not dying,” said Sickles. “Legacy news organizations may not be doing as well as they once did, but more and more people are learning about the changes that journalism is bringing. They are becoming more involved.”

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