Reinventing CSU journalism

Aug 252010
Authors: Madeline Novey

Rather than follow one concentration path within CSU’s Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, future students will get to take classes based on their career path of choice.

The idea is to have students graduate as multiplatform journalists able to communicate in more than one way –– through stories, photos, video, design and the web.

“We’re steadily adapting to changes and needs in the industry,” said department chair Greg Luft.

Wanting to produce more professionally competitive graduates, department faculty entered a curriculum redesign contest. They were granted $12,500 by the university and have since created a program that they think will work.

In the past, students enrolled in one of the department’s five concentrations –– news-editorial, computer-mediated communication, public relations, specialized and technical communication and television news and video communication.

By next fall, those “silos” will be gone, said Jamie Switzer, an associate journalism professor who helped create the new department track.

In addition to four prerequisites –– Media and Society, Newswriting, Computer-Mediated Communication and Online Writing –– students will take communications law and media ethics. After that, they can choose classes from across the department –– in editorial writing, production, website design and more –– to fulfill their degree requirements.

“Students are kind of creating their own degree,” Switzer said.

As a part of the curriculum redesign, students in computer-mediated communication this semester pay a fee to get their own flip-style camera, emphasizing the importance of learning to shoot and edit video.

Luft said keeping the Journalism Department up to speed with industry changes has been an ongoing process.

Journalism professor Pete Seel was around in 1996 when the department started to integrate photography and web-centric classes. Seel is also adviser to the Information Science and Technology Center, which helps CSU programs stay technologically relevant.

Seel knows ecoming a multiplatform journalist isn’t easy.

“It’s intimidating to say you have to have this big bucket of skills,” he said.
The key to success, he said, is demystifying a journalist’s tools.

Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at

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