Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Communications Department Updates Program Curriculum To Compete With Changing Media Trends

Officials in the Tennessee State University Department of Communications have retooled the curriculum for its mass communications emphasis to include greater depth in convergence and media versatility.

The curriculum revisions include more courses and the introduction of two tracks—News and Production—that are to replace the current curriculum track offerings in Print Journalism and Radio/Television Broadcast. Also, the department is creating a convergence network and Web site to support its student media outlets.

Department head Terry Likes said reasons for changing the curriculum included the presence of changing trends in media, as well as a desire to better serve students by helping them become more marketable and better prepared to enter the media workforce.

“Changes in the media have produced convergence. One reporter now covers a story for print, online, radio and television. The proposed changes will better serve students wishing to work in journalism, production or related media fields. The revised curriculum emphasizes content and communication skills for our students, not merely technical proficiency,” Likes said.

Likes explained that one of the major problems with the current curriculum was that students weren’t getting hands-on experience until their junior year of the suggested four-year plan. The revised curriculum addresses that by requiring three courses—“Intro to Mass Communications,” “Technologies & Techniques of Media” and “Fundamentals of Media Writing”—be taken during the freshman year, according to the proposed four-year plan.

Additionally, Likes said the new curriculum changes would better nurture the University’s student media outlets—The Meter (campus newspaper), WTST (campus radio station) and Tiger News (campus television station). In courses, students will be required to write stories or produce audio, photo and video broadcasts for credit.

The content produced for the media outlets are to be featured on a student-created convergence Web site. Likes said he and other faculty met with student media leaders this semester for the creation of a Tiger News Network—taking a cue from the commercial practices of Tampa’s The News Center and the converged media operations of WTHR-TV NBC and the Indianapolis Star.

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