Education - Page 2 - Journalism, from page 1

- Page 2
Journalism, from page 1
says Harvey. Harvey says that courses in the program are constantly updated to stay relevant with changing technology.

In the Media Entrepreneurship course, students learn “how to launch a side business or plan a path or earn money after retiring. They learn all about startups and how to be an entrepreneur,” says Harvey. Students must create a business and pitch it to potential investors like the television show “Shark Tank.”

A Large Skill Set

Recognizing the changing needs in the journalism workplace, Harford Community College has made significant modifications to its mass communications program. One of the leaders in this effort was Claudia Brown, associate professor in the visual, performing and applied arts division, who notes that there are two program concentrations – Production/Announcing and Advertising/Sales. As part of the revamped curriculum, the advertising concentration will be renamed Journalism/New Media and Advertising this fall. Brown says that she suggested that required courses have an increased focus on the production of multimedia content after analyzing trends in the field and surveys, and after having extensive conversations with currents students and alumni. Feedback from professionals in the field indicated a need for better writing and social media skills and a more diverse portfolio of work.

“We teach our students many different skills – writing, editing, design, videography, public relations, marketing, photography, social media and on air reporting,” Brown says.

Journalists today must wear different hats – a writer must also be skilled at photography, while an on-air correspondent may also be asked to act as videographer when covering a story. “Some of our students are aware of these trends in the field and some are not, but all are open to learning new skills,” Brown says. Additionally, Brown says, some come into the program convinced that they want to be a writer and discover a passion for photography or web design. Wayne Hepler, professor in the visual, performing and applied arts division at HCC, agrees. “I had a student who said he was only interested in being an on-air talent, but I urged him to also embrace the technical side of the business as well,” says Hepler. “Years ago, students were urged to specialize – focus solely on writing, for example – but now it’s important to be able to write, shoot video, edit and be adept at social media.”

“Research dictates that most people will change jobs multiple times, so it’s best to be prepared for whatever opportunity comes along,” adds Hepler.

Brown developed a new course, Introduction to Social Media. “Students are taught that social media writing is very different than writing an article – every word is so crucial. We also teach them that each social media platform is different and you must create content that is native to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.” Hepler adds, “Writing for a blog or website is very different than writing copy for a billboard or a newspaper.”

Focus on Internships at UMBC

Like any field, mass communications is constantly attempting to keep up with changing technology, which can be a futile exercise. With this in mind, University of Maryland, Baltimore County takes a different approach.

“We believe that flexibility is key to any interdisciplinary major, so we focus on larger debates and theories in mass communications and then bridge those ideas to practical applications,” says Donald Snyder, Ph.D., senior lecturer of media and communication studies at UMBC. Snyder says that students can take classes in journalism, production, public relations, marketing, theatre and more.

“There is an expectation that all Millennials have excellent digital skills, but some students are still hesitant and not savvy with video production, for example,” says Snyder, who adds that there is a lab component in one of the introduction classes that helps provide a general comfort with software such as Premier, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.

One of the key elements of the program at UMBC is the required internship component that allows students to work in high-tech workplaces and learn how to communicate clearly, act professionally and think critically, Snyder says. “We encourage students to network at their internship; you must put yourself out there. No one will do it for you.”

One UMBC student who has shown initiative is Giselle Nakpil, who has had multiple internships. In fact, her first one was when she was still in high school. “It was a summer internship in human resources, which was not my field, but I took the opportunity to excel,” says Nakpil. Once a student at UMBC, she landed an internship at the Integrated Health Center of Maryland. “I took a semester off from school and found the internship on my own. It was a great opportunity; I created a database of all the pharmaceuticals and products in the office, which was used by the entire staff. Dr. Snyder told me about my latest internship at the Institute for Public Accuracy. I was not into politics initially, but I learned so much about politics and the media,” she says.

Nakpil, a mass communications major with is minors in statistics, hopes to graduate this fall and is anxious to enter the workforce. “I am interested in data science – what consumers want and what it tells us about our culture.”

UMBC students have interned at places such as Northrop Grumman, “Baltimore Sun,” WYPR and Discovery Communications – many of these organizations have hired recent graduates following these internships. “The major is 10 years old, and we now have graduates approaching us to hire current students as their interns,” Snyder says. •

Social matters

More than ever before, college students communicate with each other through texting and social media channels; however, posting a photo on Instagram or sharing a funny meme on Facebook with friends is different than promoting a company’s brand or products online.

Harford Community College’s Brown and Hepler both say that they advise their students to take a more professional approach to their personal social media pages. “My students are very online oriented, and they understand the impact of social media but sometimes they need guidance on what’s appropriate and professional,” says Hepler.

Brown, who serves as chief advisor to HCC’s glossy magazine, “Owl Magazine,” and its affiliated social media channels, shows students how social media can affect a business. “We use social media as part of our branding efforts for the magazine and must retain professionalism and credibility with our readers,” she says. •