New journalism program receives positive feedback

Written By Hayley Keys, Co-News Editor

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In fall 2017, Point Park’s School of Communication announced they were switching out broadcast reporting, environmental journalism, journalism, mass communication and photojournalism majors for a collective bachelor of arts in journalism.

“When I originally changed my major, I never realized it could be a journalism degree,” freshman journalism major Frank Smith said. “Then I saw that it was more broad, so I felt like I could do more with my degree.”

This change to the program combined specific classes with general requirements to create a new major that would allow students to learn multiple skills.

Fall 2019 is the first semester of the new major and the first time students are unable to pick their particular branch of journalism to pursue upon entry to the university. So far, there has been positive feedback from both students and faculty.

Thom Baggerman, associate professor and chair of the School of Communication, said the change came about in an effort to prepare students for the difference in the culture of journalism and media.

“For instance, let’s say you were a traditional journalism major,” Baggerman said. “Well, part of your job is most likely going to be taking pictures because pure photojournalists don’t exist anymore. Our previous major didn’t give [the students] any training but now [a student] will leave our school more prepared for their career.”

Baggerman mentioned that the plan was met with some skepticism but, after giving an explanation, students felt more confident for their first semester.

“There were lots of questions and maybe even a little anxiety from the incoming students about why we did it,” Baggerman said. “But we talked through it and explained that it is really setting them up for the job market and helping to make them multifaceted.”   

Smith said he was nervous when he first saw the announcement on the website, but he felt better after speaking with the school.

“I remember I did it over a phone call,” Smith said. “They told me it was an experimental program that was going to grow. But what made me comfortable was how they talked to me about it. They knew what they were doing.”

Dr. Timothy Hudson, professor of communications at Point Park, was involved with the switch and  created the new program along with other faculty members.

“The Point Park Communication faculty never stops reviewing and improving our courses and curriculum,” Hudson said. “The 2017 journalism revision was one of several steps we’ve taken over the past 10 years to bring our journalism curriculum up to the highest, most current professional and academic standards.”

Even though the fall semester only just started, Baggerman is encouraged by the reception from the students.

“As far as I know, everything is going well,” Baggerman said. “I haven’t heard any bad things, and there has been no course of major changes.”

Smith even mentioned that the new program attracted one of his friends who wasn’t sure what she wanted to pursue as a degree.

“One of my friends was considering just doing journalism as a minor, then she really thought about it, looked at the program and she decided to change,” Smith said.

He said his first week has been busy but good, and he is excited for his future career in journalism.

“It’s a heavy workload, but I expected that,” Smith said. “I feel good so far though, I think my professors are good, and it’s been pretty awesome.”

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