To evolve with the ever-changing world of digital communication, Northeastern State University has updated its Mass Communication department to meet current industry standards.
The department has been renamed Media Studies, and curriculum has been adjusted to include aspects of multimedia communication in every course, said NSU Professor of Media Studies Dana Eversole. Feedback from former students was sought to provide insight on what students need to prepare themselves for the workforce.
“Social media and industry standards prompted the idea,” she said. “We have a lot of students who are at [Tulsa TV news station] Channel 2 as online editors, desk editors, camera people, and video editors, and TV has gone to a multimedia journalist approach where you shoot the footage, you write the [copy], you edit the footage and you get it on the air. So we needed to encompass that. We needed to move with the industry.”
NSU Media Studies is a College of Liberal Arts program that offers courses focusing on writing for the media, newspaper production, digital photography, video production, media literacy, advertising, public relations and other media studies disciplines.
Social media has changed everything, and the NSU journalism school needed to adapt to those changes, said Media Studies instructor Cassie Freise.
“Somebody came up with the idea that we needed to teach a class solely on social media, but then we realized that we implement social media into each course we teach. We decided we needed to do some name changes and update to current standards,” she said. “I think that before, with our Mass Communication requirements, it was very much divided. We had training for print journalism. We had training for broadcast journalists. We had training for photographers. We revamped our entire program across the board, and now we’re training multimedia journalists instead of students specializing in one area.”
The NSU student newspaper is available in both the print and digital formats, and Coweta Senior Staff Writer Blake Harris said the Media Studies courses are preparing him to gather and report news immediately and accurately. The need for immediacy prompted by societal use of hand-held devices like smartphones or tablets has changed how people get their news, he said.
“I can take a picture of something that happened on campus today and have it on Twitter or Facebook in a matter of 30 seconds,” said Harris. “We want to get it out as fast as possible, but also with that, you have to be careful to get the facts straight. That’s one of the biggest changes - the immediacy [and emphasized need for accuracy] - and one of the things they talk about in classes.”
Pineville, Mo., junior Audra Hurley is planning to go into public relations when she graduates. She entered the Media Studies program to get training in every form of digital media communication.
“[Media Studies] covers all the bases. Everything’s moving so quickly because of the Internet,” she said. “You have to know the gist of how to tell a story correctly, and not burn bridges or say anything that’s going to get you into trouble. You have to get these articles out now. So you have to have a good understanding of what you’re legally able to do without getting your company or yourself in trouble.”
Students are learning to write shorter stories because industry standards no longer call for lengthy novel-like articles, said Eversole.
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