Point Park Globe

Professor addresses recent concerns with new major

Dr. Tim Hudson assures students that decision was not rushed process

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Professor addresses recent concerns with new major

Written By Tim Hudson

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The Globe received an email from Journalism Faculty Chair Tim Hudson in response to our coverage of the School of Communication’s restructured journalism program, effective Fall 2019. The email contained a list of question and answers, which have been condensed into a guest column format.

My colleagues have asked me to answer a few questions regarding the recently approved Journalism Major changes. I am happy to do so.

1. Will students still be able to select a concentration of advanced courses in a particular type of journalism?

Yes. None of the specialized courses are going away. Students may focus their major electives in a particular area or mix them up a bit. Because these advanced courses in photojournalism, broadcast journalism, data journalism, etc., will be on a single degree program guide, students will find the advising and registration process simpler, and won’t have to worry about special approvals. Of course, as always journalism faculty will be here to discuss individual goals prior to each semester registration.

2. Has there been enough student input?

Students are represented in both the University Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Assembly. But Communication student input has been more significant than USG representation. The process began in 2009, and for two years the Dean of the School met every month with the student managers of all student media plus officers of all media-related student organizations. SoC curricular content changes during that initial period were more significant than the current restructuring. Since then, the profession-guided momentum has continued.

All six full-time Journalism professors at Point Park have been working closely with students. In capstone discussions, student media meetings, advising sessions, and informal confabs, we talk with students about the profession and our curriculum often. We also glean useful information from Student Success Surveys and student course evaluations.

3. Has there been professional and alumni input?

Each of the six PPU journalism professors has significant professional experience, credentials, professional networks, and alumni networks. We never stop consulting with this broad national and international array of successful reporters, anchors, news directors, producers, writers, thought leaders, educators, publishers, columnists, university administrators, benefactors, and media executives. We also count nationally and internationally respected experts among our own faculty.

It is important to us that a Point Parkeducation serves students well beyond their entry-level jobs, providing a foundation for life-long learning, creativity, and contribution to the media professions at the management and executive levels.

4. Was this journalism curriculum proposal rushed?

Eight years of wide open discussion have led to step by step curricular consolidation at Point Park. But decades of progress on two broad issues are represented in these changes.

The first pivotal question was whether to approach (and label) baccalaureate media curricula by delivery platform or by profession. By the end of the 1980s leading U.S. media schools had chosen to focus on the professions. The second discussion – regarding how to respond to corporate and technological convergence — took place in the 1990s and was settled at the international level by 2000. Leading universities and media organizations agreed that the future of the media professions was clearly “multiplatform.”

So, here is a sampling of degree labels that, for the most part, we do NOT see among four-year colleges: newspaper journalism, magazine advertising, broadcast public relations, cable TV production, social media journalism, mobile/portable journalism, and so on.

Instead, elite media schools have focused on the professions, with degree majors typically labeled: journalism, advertising, public relations, media production, etc. And it’s long been settled that professionals working in these fields will see their work delivered via a broad and expanding series of platforms.

Here at Point Park we began the revisions in 2009. Before long we had deleted a number of duplicative majors, and converted a “print” Journalism degree plan to the current “multi-platform” Journalism major. For several years we have been fine-tuning integration of the Broadcast Reporting and Journalism curricula. After all, if our Journalism curriculum is truly and legitimately “multiplatform,” we don’t need a similar separate major with a delivery-based label.

By 2017, the Journalism faculty decided to complete the consolidation, focusing on the profession of journalism, and assuring a rigorous, multiplatform approach. The proposal was carefully and transparently discussed, modified, and vetted. In recent weeks the curriculum sailed through the Curriculum Committee and Faculty Assembly approval processes. There are several official University documents available, detailing the 2009 -2018 curricular evolution.

I’m glad to see student journalists expressing interest and exploring these details. Please stop in to see me or one of the other Journalism professors to continue the discussion.

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