Home CommentaryEditorial Why Concordia’s journalism program needs updating—again

Why Concordia’s journalism program needs updating—again

by The Concordian September 26, 2017
Why Concordia’s journalism program needs updating—again

Change can definitely be a good thing. While it’s great to stick to a certain niche, it’s really important to evolve your ideas and abilities so that you can keep up with this fast-paced world.

Take Concordia’s journalism program, for example. It’s no secret that journalism has shifted from a traditional print platform to a digital one. Now, reporters are expected to know not only how to write, but also how to take photos, edit sound clips and record video. It’s a great shift, since it encompasses where our society is going in terms of technological advances. But we at The Concordian feel that, although the journalism program has changed for the better since its upgrade in 2016, there is still room for improvement.

It’s understandable that change had to come to a program like journalism—a field that’s always transforming and adapting. To be honest, though, the changes seem better in theory than in practice.

For example, under the old program, students had the option of choosing between a major in textual or audiovisual (AV) journalism. Regardless of which path students chose, though, all were required to spend a semester learning the basics of radio journalism, and another semester focusing on an introduction to video. Later on in their degree, students were offered a semester-long course on photojournalism.

Under the new program, however, students are expected to learn the basics of radio, video and photojournalism in just 15 weeks. That’s about four or five weeks per subject—simply not enough time to familiarize yourself with the basics let alone prepare you for more advanced radio and video courses.

While we at The Concordian agree with the department’s attempt to better prepare students for a work environment that requires journalists to be jacks-of-all-trades, the changes seem to go too far in the other direction. In trying to teach students so much material in so little time, many j-schoolers risk finishing courses with less knowledge than they would have under the old curriculum.

But the changes aren’t all negative. It’s extremely important to highlight the program’s necessary shift from traditional to digital media and its implications on young journalists. Writing, of course, is always going to be a critical tool for journalists. But video, radio and photography have also become necessary skills for a career in this field.

While the new program does offer in-depth audiovisual courses at the 300 and 400-level, we hope the department acknowledges that the overly condensed format of the program’s first year hinders rather than helps prepare students for the rest of their degree.

Another change that has been made to the program is that the course “Radio Newsroom” is no longer required for second-year AV students. Especially given the limited time spent acquiring radio skills in year one, we at The Concordian believe the department should create more of an opportunity for students to develop their broadcasting skills in a hands-on environment.

Ultimately, we believe the changes made to the journalism program show potential, even though they remain far from ideal. The fact that the department was willing to adapt to a shifting work environment gives us confidence that we haven’t seen the end of the department’s attempts to make adjustments for the sake of its students’ education.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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