The Ideal J-School (by “Dean” Morris)

While many argue that journalism is to be learned through experience and inherited through intuition, much can be gained from a classroom education. Today’s journalists must be well-versed not only in the classic skills of the field, but in the increasingly vital tangentials of technology and data that now play an active role in modern journalism. At the University of Notre Dame, the Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor presents the ideal opportunity for aspiring journalists to learn the essentials while simultaneously purusing additional courses of study in other realms. As many scholars and field experts note, truly great journalists often draw from a wealth of knowledge that spans much further than the specifics of the trade itself. With this holistic attitude in mind, the seven following courses encapsulate the “ideal” JED minor, to be paired with a major in a complementary field:

1. Introduction to Journalism (JED 1000)

This introductory course would be comprised of two major parts. The first half of the course would largely cover the history of journalism through primary sources, as well as secondary texts like Christopher Daly’s Covering America. The second half of the semester would then focus on the basics of journalistic skills, including reporting, interviewing, writing, editing, and research. The dual aspects of this course are necessary to any introduction to the field, for an understanding of journalism’s history is as vital as knowing the “how-to’s.” Assignments would include two papers on the history, applied assignments in each of the skill categories, and a comprehensive final exam featuring both aspects of the course.

 

2. Journalistic Writing (JED 2100)

This course would be an in-depth focus on the various types of journalistic writing with the aim of producing truly excellent writers in general. Students would study and practice the many varieties of writing including “longform,” commentary, reviews, headlines, ledes, features, humor, and interviews. Through the exercise of practicing so many types of journalism, students would gain experience and improve their writing as a whole.

 

3. Journalism in the 21st Century (JED 2200)

Based more in theory, this course would cover the changes that the field is currently experiencing in terms of economics, culture, and technology. Questions like, “What has happened to the newspaper?” “Is cable news still viable?” “How do people get their news?” would be approached through academic readings and personal experience. As “millenials,” this course is vital to any young person who hopes to enter the field of journalism. While the answer is still very much up in the air, the course’s goal would be to put various experts in conversation with each other, as well as engage students in their own thoughts, on the subject of how news will evolve in today’s world.

4. The Media and American Politics (JED 2300)

This course would explore the age-old relationship between the press and politics with a focus on its current state today. Coverage of campaigns, elections, lawmaking, political scandals, and foreign affairs widely varies across medium and source. Students would approach these topics not from the typical ideological or anecdotal stance that most Americans do through casual conversation, but explore the structural reasonings and historic context by way of academic writing like Michael Schudson’s The Sociology of News, etc. Additionally, students would delve into matters of public engagement, education, and civic knowledge based on their consumption of various types of media. Though similar to our “Journalism and American Democracy,” “The Media and American Politics” would focus less on history and theory and place a greater emphasis of the more specific relationship between today’s vast media and current political affairs.

 

5. Comprehensive Journalism (JED 3000)

“Comprehensive Journalism” is a course designed to educate aspiring journalists in necessary though often overlooked skills. It would feature two-week workshops on a variety of different areas including basic coding, social media, multimedia, statistics, and economics. The “mish-mash” nature of the course is not designed to train students to be experts in any of the many categories, but rather provide a solid introduction and basic skill set that can then be developed at a later date when required.

 

6. Philosophy in Journalism (JED 3100)

Many of the greatest moments in journalism’s history have strong themes of justice, truth, and absolutism. This course will explore the various philosophies that drive journalists, including directly opposing views. It will attempt to answer questions like “What is the role of a journalist?” “What is the point of journalism?” “What responsibilities do journalists have to society?” Journalistic ethics and the debate between objectivity and activist journalism will be two major aspects of the course as students wrestle with the meaning of the profession on a philosophical, moral, and ethical level. Over the course of the semesters, students will engage with a variety of thinkers including Tocqueville, Dewey, Lippmann, Kant, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and others.

 

7. Internship (JED 4000)

Application of skills attained and ideas cultivated through the previous six courses is necessary for any program. This internship can be at any type of news organization, as long as students are actively involved in the production of news. A newsroom environment is by far the best way to make the transition from the classroom setting to the real world and involves all aspects of the field in an applied manner.

(8. Learn Everything There Is To Know in One Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcszyb5d7nA )

 

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