Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has been restructured to create a single, digital-first journalism department and to have one department solely focused on entertainment and media studies, a rapidly growing sector of the media industry.
In response to journalism’s rapid changes, the goal is to provide Grady College students a more flexible and comprehensive education in multiple journalistic platforms, as well as to provide a more focused curriculum in narrative storytelling and media studies. The new curriculum positions students for a competitive and changing market.
“This faculty-driven process represents a huge step forward for Grady College,” said Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College. “Now we have a curriculum that reflects the world out there: one in which age-old distinctions between broadcast and print journalism are fading away.”
A variety of journalism programs from around the country were reviewed during the restructuring. Although many have started focusing on digital components, very few have embraced the single journalism curriculum that the Grady College has created.
“Grady’s new journalism curriculum represents the state of the art in multiplatform, digital-first coursework designed to truly integrate all forms of journalism rather than remain in product-dependent silos,” Davis said. “We have done much more than simply rearrange the departments and call it a day. We have instead merged the broadcast, newspaper, magazine and online journalism faculty and asked them to create a curriculum reflective of that merger. This places Grady squarely ahead of the curve, and allows us to continue to adapt to changing dynamics in the news business.”
“We spent a lot of time discussing what skills we wanted Grady students to have,” Janice Hume, head of the journalism department, said of the new structure. “We are adamant that we want our students to be strong writers, strong reporters and strong visual communicators who feel comfortable performing on multiple platforms.”
Most class projects will air on Grady’s evening newscast, Newsource, and its related website www.gradynewsource.uga.edu, which together create an experiential newsroom laboratory.
There is also flexibility for journalism students to take a selection of specialty courses focusing on topics like critical writing, photojournalism and management.
“Our industry is changing so rapidly and our employers want to hire people who are comfortable telling stories in a variety of different ways to a variety of different audiences,” Hume said. “This new curriculum is something we had to do to make sure our students remain competitive and relevant.”
These classes also provide room for future changes.
“This new curriculum allows us to be really nimble because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years,” Hume said. “But we are ready for it based upon the skeleton of the curriculum that can change with the times.”
The curriculum restructure resonates with current Grady College students, as well.
“This change is critical for Grady,” said Kendall Trammell, who is a junior taking classes in both digital broadcast journalism and magazine journalism under the current structure. “As a Grady student, I wanted a mix of both print and broadcast curriculums. Both have strengths that digital journalists need, and that’s what employers are expecting journalism graduates to have.”
Entertainment and media studies
Creating the new generation of storytellers focused on entertainment media, film, television and new media is at the heart of Grady’s new entertainment and media studies department, said Andy Kavoori, department head. “This really captures a student need and a market demand. Entertainment, especially film production, is a vital part of Georgia’s economy and the creation of this major positions us to address that market need.”
“The entertainment media industry is the fastest growing segment of the media industry and it is also the most fragmented,” Kavoori continued. “We have people developing social media games and viral video and short fiction across multiple platforms, but also those who have a desire for long-form narratives. Our students will be trained in not just the tools of storytelling but in the narrative possibilities of entertainment media. Our students will be poised to tell what is the nature and shape of the story as it emerges in the intersection between culture and industry.”
Grady College’s third department, advertising and public relations, remains unchanged.
The new curriculum will begin in fall 2015 in the entertainment and media studies department and in spring 2016 in the journalism department.
About Grady College
Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers several graduate degrees and is home to the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.