Communication Department Receives Whole New Look

By Threefold: A.J. Miller
Monday, June 4, 2012

Department Combines Majors into One, Creates Five Emphases

In the fall of 2012, the communication department will revamp its structure to reflect new needs in today's media landscape.

Department faculty are hard at work over the summer with the revamp, said communication professor Darren Gould. “It’s going to really help people understand what we do.”

The department will combine all of the current majors into one with five different emphases, said department head Marquita Smith.

Smith said today's organizations want to work through several platforms - social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, TV, radio and especially web. Thus, a student who wants to work in broadcasting will likely find that the job also requires a good understanding of web and social media.

“Everything is interconnected,” said Smith, “and creating a program that's a lot more unified was the desire.”

Four of the new emphases will reflect the old majors in the department. The emphases are Digital Journalism, Radio/TV/Web, Public Relations, Multi-Context and Social Advocacy. The department will continue to offer a drama minor.

The Digital Journalism emphasis will replace the journalism major. The emphasis will continue to focus on writing and editing skills, said Smith, but students will also produce more web content.

One new course, Communication Technologies, will count toward this emphasis. The Radio/TV/Web and Social Advocacy emphases also require it. Communication Technologies introduces students to various types of media. In previous years, students came in with varying familiarity of different platforms. They didn't always learn to use these platforms until later in their college career, said Darren Gould.Construction continues on the communication department's new convergence newsroom. The Learning Resource Center's Room 121 will be replacing the Threefold Advocate office that was once in the Honors Center.

Communication professor Kara Gould said that this course will help prepare students for senior level class Integrated Media. Integrated Media is required in Radio/TV/Web and can fill supporting credits in Digital Journalism.

The Radio/TV/Web emphasis replaces Broadcasting. Darren Gould said that the broadcasting major has been teaching multiple platforms for a while, but that the new name will explain that to graduates' potential employers. “We're changing the way we talk about things.”

One course for the new emphasis, EagleBreak, gives students hands-on experience in creating content for radio, TV and web. It runs for two semesters. The first is a lecture course and the second a practicum.

The Public Relations emphasis replaces the old major of the same name. “That is one industry that is actually growing,” said Smith. “We're excited about building this up as well.”

The Multi-Context emphasis replaces the old communication major. This emphasis allows students to develop written, verbal and mediated communication skills. It prepares students for a variety of jobs.

Finally, the department created a new emphasis called Social Advocacy. Smith said that the emphasis teaches students to advocate for causes using different media.

Two courses for this emphasis are Political Communication and Narrative Performance. Narrative Performance will also form part of the drama minor's curriculum.

“It's an exciting time – it's a transformation,” said Smith.

The department will also be utilizing a new convergence newsroom to replace the old office for the Threefold Advocate. The newsroom will be called The Triangle and is currently under construction in LRC 121.