Mass Communication, more than a name


Written By Beth Turnbull, Co-Opinions Editor

When I was graduating high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. More urgently, what I wanted to do when I got to college. I knew everything I didn’t want to do, but couldn’t figure out what my ever-important major would be.

Point Park’s mass communication major really appealed to me because of the diversity of the program. The chance to learn about various fields in the communications industry would be the perfect way for me to figure out what I truly wanted to focus on in my future.

I declared my major and was able to learn about print journalism, public relations, broadcasting, advertising–a little sampler of all the School of Communication had to offer. I wanted to try it all, and this major allowed me to do that.

The end of my sophomore year, I chose to concentrate in public relations because that was what I had enjoyed the most from my education so far. Majoring in mass communication allowed me to find my passion in a low-stress and encouraging environment. Having experience with journalism and broadcasting and all the other classes offered in this major has made me a much more well-rounded public relations professional.

Now the School of Communication has proposed a new curriculum, pending approval from the Faculty Assembly that would combine the following majors: broadcast reporting, environmental journalism, photojournalism, journalism and mass communication into one Frankenstein journalism major.

When I first heard this I was extremely upset. Although I am a senior and this change will not affect me, I am sad that indecisive incoming students will no longer have the chance to choose a mass communication major. Undecided communication hopefuls will have to choose journalism in order to try their hand at all the fields represented in the industry.

This new journalism major will cover a lot of territory, but I worry that the name will be enough to deter potential students. I did not want to major in journalism when I was applying for colleges, I wanted something more general. If I were forced to choose between journalism and a host of other specific majors, I would have looked at another school.

This may seem like an argument of mere semantics, and I will grant you that semantics are playing a big role here, but for me, there is more to it. I’m sure that students will still be able to pick concentrations in broadcasting or photojournalism, etc., but the major on their degree may not be the best reflection of that.

I am interested to hear more from the University on why they have chosen to make these changes. I am hopeful that my doubts will be proven wrong, but I am also wary of what this will mean for those of us who will hold a mass communication degree upon graduation.

Choosing this major was the best decision 17 year old me could have made, and I hope that incoming students will have the opportunity to make that decision, too.