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NerdScholar Favorites: Journalism and New Media Programs

May 13, 2014
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Despite a continued loss of readership for newspapers, and a steady decline in the number of reporters, the field of digital journalism–as opposed to traditional journalism–continues to see significant growth, reports International Business Times. More people now turn to new media, or on-demand digital content, and this trend is only rising. In response, many universities have begun adding new media training to their journalism and communications programs. Typically, new media journalism programs teach students how to incorporate video and interactive maps or graphics to their stories. Students also learn basic web development skills, such as HTML and CSS, and how to engage with readers through social media.

NerdScholar has compiled a list of our favorite cutting-edge journalism programs, which have adapted to the field’s changing demands. The programs on our list not only teach students how to be excellent storytellers, but also train students to use multimedia tools to provide a variety of content for many platforms.


Indiana University South Bend Standout Program on the Rise

IU South Bend’s integrated new media program has grown from one student in 2008, to 181 students this spring. The program combines art, design and communications skills with computer technologies to prepare students for journalism in the digital world. “Journalists of today are no longer learning to write just for print,” says Alec Hosterman, chair of communication studies. “Since consumers get their news from Twitter feeds or Facebook updates, journalists must know how to write for web, print and social media. Today, it’s all about convergent media.” Students can choose to supplement their degree in integrated new media studies with a focus on design, music or video and motion media, or a concentration on graphic design or informatics. The program also offers two minor tracks in integrated new media studies and graphic design.


Colorado Mountain College Unique Real-World Experience

The Isaacson School for New Media at Colorado Mountain College offers degrees in digital journalism, digital marketing and design and digital media production. “Our programs focus on content creation in the photography, graphic design, video and digital journalism genre and our digital marketing pathway teaches content distribution,” says Robert Martin, director of the Isaacson School for New Media. “Students learn cutting-edge production techniques using the best equipment in our top-of-the-line production facilities.” In addition to the school’s strong academic programs, its location in Aspen, Colorado offers students the opportunity to connect with—and learn from—leading entrepreneurs. “The Isaacson School’s partnerships with the Aspen Institute and leading new media corporations lead toward authentic internships and real-world production opportunities,” Martin says. “The hallmark of an Isaacson School education is real-world experience in the form of collaborative projects with an array of extraordinary community partners.”


University of North Texas Cutting-Edge Curriculum

The Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas is currently revamping their course content, with plans to hire a professor with experience in 21st century journalism. “Journalism as we know it is changing,” says Samra Bufkins, who teaches public relations at Mayborn. One class she teaches, “Strategic Social Media Communication,” focuses on social media practices within the news and public relations realm, and is the first of its kind at the university. Not only does the course help students master social media skills, it also prepares them for the job market, too. Bufkins requires that each student have a LinkedIn profile and connect with 50-100 people by the end of the term, and those connections could prove useful, since the university’s surrounding metro area, north of Dallas in Denton, Texas, is the fifth largest media market in the country. Bufkins says that many journalism students land internships or jobs at the area’s corporate communications companies and nonprofit organizations.


University of GeorgiaHighly Interdisciplinary

Offered through the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the New Media Institute (NMI) is dedicated to exploring the critical, commercial and creative dimensions of innovative digital media technology. “Currently, the NMI focuses on personal media: mobile, social and gaming,” says Megan Ward, program manager. “Coming from any major, NMI students receive a new media certificate attesting that they are ‘technowledgable’—they know how to apply new media in their chosen field.” Each year, about 350 students work toward completing the 17-course hours required for the new media certificate. Ward said the program has become more competitive among all majors as the value of new media skills has grown. The program pairs students with professional mentors and internships. “Each semester culminates in a SLAM event during which dozens of companies head to the NMI for a day full of networking, interviewing and student presentations,” Ward says, adding that students “are sought after by employers.”


Note: Superlatives, noted in green, are inclusive of the group of schools listed in this article only. 

Image of journalists courtesy of Shutterstock.