Journalism and the liberal arts: inquiring minds
We believe that the best preparation for a career in journalism comes from the breadth of intellectual interest typical of a liberal-arts student, and that critical thinking and problem-solving are invaluable talents for insightful and resourceful journalists. Many, many successful alumni journalists demonstrate that a liberal-arts education serves future journalists well. The journalism program is not a major, but a minor that adds specific skills and knowledge to our students’ backgrounds gained from general education courses and their majors.
Journalism minors should be aware of certain core values and competencies and be able to:
- understand principles and laws involving free speech and freedom of the press, including the responsibility of the press to question policies and monitor uses of authority;
- understand the role of journalism and the media in society as reflector and shaper of public opinion and concern;
- convey information and opinion accurately, fairly and ethically;
- think critically, analytically and independently;
- conduct research and supply evidence adequate to the claims based upon it;
- write correctly and clearly in appropriate journalistic style and format;
- and critically evaluate their work and that of others for accuracy, clarity, fairness, appropriateness and grammatical correctness.
The journalism minor is built around a core of three courses:
- English 241: Beginning Journalism – This course provides an overview of kinds of journalistic writing and concentrates particularly on giving students practice in basic news writing. Students also explore questions of First Amendment rights and ethical and legal obligations of the profession.
- Communication 290S: Media Literacy – This course studies the role and function of print and broadcast journalism in this country, including how journalism, broadly speaking, is institutionalized and how it relates to political, commercial and audience expectations and interpretations.
- An advanced journalism course – Minors choose either English 320: Advanced News Writing or English 321: Advanced Feature Writing. These courses ask students to polish skills in either news and investigative reporting or feature and profile writing.
- Other electives add specific skills such as opinion writing or photography, or they encourage students to apply skills in a work setting in an internship. Thus, the required courses lay out the cultural ground of journalism and build student skills at the beginning and advanced levels.
- Students may elect to hone their skills by writing and editing for The Wittenberg Torch, the weekly student-run newspaper. Those who earn positions as section or general editors may even earn internship credits as they learn and contribute.
Facilities and equipment
Most journalism courses are taught in Hollenbeck Hall, a technologically equipped academic building. All classrooms have wireless Internet access, video projection capabilities, and presentation and editing software. Some courses meet in a computer lab.
The Wittenberg Torch has a dedicated floor of Weaver Observatory for its staff use; it houses meeting and work spaces, as well as computers operating editing and layout software. The photography course makes use of its own darkroom in Koch Hall.
With guidance from Wittenberg’s Career Center, students have secured internships in a variety of outlets, including those in newspaper reporting, magazine and newsletter production, advertising, and radio and television broadcasting.
The Wittenberg Torch: Students have the chance to sharpen their journalistic skills through working on Wittenberg’s weekly newspaper, produced entirely by students. Its purpose is to inform the Wittenberg and Springfield communities about current issues, news events and feature stories, while providing a forum for scholarly debate and a vehicle for social change.
WUSO 89.1 FM: Those students interested in broadcasting may work at Wittenberg’s campus radio station. This student-run station provides experience in all aspects of the radio industry.
Many Wittenberg graduates have gone on to fulfilling careers in journalism, photojournalism, communication and publishing. Employers include:
- The Washington Post
- TV Guide
- Rocky Mountain News
- Chicago Tribune
- Sourcebooks, Inc.
- STACK magazine
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- The Boston Globe
- Forbes magazine
- Springfield News-Sun
Veterans of our journalism courses have also attended the top-rated graduate programs at:
- Columbia University
- University of Missouri
- Northwestern University
- Ohio University
- Denver Publishing Institute
Professors from the art, communication and English departments teach courses for the journalism minor and have a vast amount of experience in journalism, photography, communication, mass media and newspaper, magazine and creative writing. In addition to authoring several books and regularly presenting scholarly papers at academic conferences, our faculty includes an award-winning newspaper columnist, an award-winning environmental reporter, and an expert on mass media and popular culture.