Given the speculation surrounding the future of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, journalism students say they are both wary and excited about the proposition of a new interdisciplinary academic program.
Katie Langhart, a 21-year-old senior news editorial major, said she thinks the change has the potential to be a positive one.
“Hopefully, if they do it right, it seems like it should be a really good transition to make for the journalism school,” Langhart said. “A lot of the classes I’ve taken personally, the reporting classes, they try their best to incorporate technology and like that kind of stuff that the ATLAS deals with, but I think they could do a much better job.”
ATLAS is the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society on campus. According to their website they are, “[an] entrepreneurial catalyst and incubator for innovative interdisciplinary research, creative, educational and outreach programs that are enabled by information and communication technology.”
ATLAS currently offers a technology, media and society Ph.D.; a technology, arts and media minor and certificate program; a collaborative arts, media and performance program; and K-12 outreach programs. A possible merge with the journalism school could increase the number of programs that ATLAS offers.
The SJMC announced Wednesday plans to move the journalism school into the 21st century by reworking the structure of the school and putting together an exploratory committee to consider implementing a new interdisciplinary academic program of information and communication technology.
Dean Hurtt, a 27-year-old senior news editorial major, said he has concerns about the recent announcement.
“I think our degree is going to become worthless because once the new degree comes out then we’re going to be, like, outdated immediately,” Hurtt said.
Hurtt said the change makes sense, but the timing of it is unfortunate for him.
“I mean, journalism is kind of a dying form. But it just sucks that I’m in that outdated form I guess. If I could I’d like to start working on that new degree right now, but I don’t think that’s going to be a choice,” Hurtt said.
In April, the College of Information Task Force, co-chaired by Paul Voakes, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and John K. Bennett, Archuleta Professor and Director of the ATLAS Institute, put out a report recommending a new college, potentially named the College of Information.
Jason Bartz, a 23-year-old CU and CU Independent alumnus and currently a multimedia producer at the Scripps Howard News Service, said that while the change is both a blessing and a curse, it’s a change that needed to happen.
“I heard something about ATLAS possibly rolling out stuff into the journalism school, and they were doing an amazing job, sort of viewing media and communication from any angle,” Bartz said. “So that could be a gigantic advantage, sort of taking some of the lessons from the ATLAS Institute and rolling them into the journalism school.”
Justin Aguilar is a 20-year-old senior who was admitted to the journalism school in his sophomore year. As an advertising major and a member of the Technology, Arts and Media program, he said he’s supportive of change if the proposed merger happens, especially if it’s most beneficial for advertising majors.
“From my perspective, I’m an ad student, in the world of ad if you don’t have digital in your portfolio, you’re not going to get hired, period,” Aguilar said. “It’s so cheap and really effective that, it’s not that print and TV are dead per se, but our best advantage is to have a good knowledge of social media.”
Despite all the rumors flying around about the merging of the journalism school with ATLAS, some students said they were surprised about the school’s announcement.
“I did hear about the school of journalism possibly being combined with ATLAS or computer sciences in one of my classes last year, so when I got the e-mail I was kind of shocked but I did know in advance,” said Ferrin Westmoreland, a 21-year-old senior broadcast news major.
Westmoreland said she supported combining the journalism school with some computer science classes, saying the skills they could cultivate are important for the changing world of journalism.
Pre-journalism majors, who are not yet enrolled in the SJMC, have also been questioning how potential changes to the school might affect the remainder of their collegiate years.
Shelby Klein, a 19-year-old studio art major who recently transferred to CU, said he had been considering adding pre-journalism as a second major, but that he might not given the possibility of changes.
“I am a little shaken, because that was one of my considerations,” Klein said. “I don’t know how it will affect my future if I still consider picking that up as a second major. Depending on how it goes, if it hurts the school and becomes a weaker program, then I might consider dropping it as a second major.”
SJMC Assistant Dean Stephen Jones said at this point, the advising staff have no solid answers as to how potential changes may affect pre-journalism majors.
“I am waiting to hear back from the provost,” Jones said. “What’s going to happen is once they get back to me with information, then we will craft an email that will be sent from the provost’s office to all of the pre-journalism students.”
Jones also said that until the exploratory committee and the chancellor have finalized their decisions, he is unsure as to what will happen with the application process for pre-journalism majors that are looking to be admitted in the spring of 2010.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the SJMC’s future, Jones said he has not seen a substantial increase in the number of pre-journalism students making appointments to meet with their advisors.
“Yeah, there has been a little bit of increased traffic but nothing much at this point,” Jones said. “Traffic flow will depend on what the provost decides and what information he has for pre-j students. It’s way too early to see any of that.”
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Sheila V Kumar at Sheila.email@example.com.