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Technology Triggers new Opportunities in Journalism

Newspapers are closing. Television newsrooms are cutting back and radio news efforts struggle. Online news seeks an identity. Readers, viewers and listeners question what they read, watch and hear. Advertisers don’t know where to invest. Students wonder if it makes sense to major in journalism.

The sky is falling and journalism is in the way. Or is it?

NO!

It’s true that technology is dictating new skill sets and information delivery methods. But it’s also triggering a landslide of new types of jobs for journalists and other professional communicators.  Some experts believe that we’re in the middle of a communication renaissance, and that there’s never been a more exciting time for young journalists.

It’s also important to note that journalism is a cornerstone of the first amendment and a free society. We have to stay committed to journalism because it can’t be replaced.

Keeping it healthy requires regular checkups and prescriptions for technological change. CSU’s Department of Journalism and Technical Communication began those checkups in earnest in 1996.  The first prescription was a computer-mediated visual communication course. Four years later, the department partnered with CSU’s Information Science and Technology Center (ISTeC), and that partnership continues today, focusing both on research and teaching.

In the late 1990s, the Department began developing a doctoral program in public communication and technology. University leaders provided critical support.   The program kicked off in 2008.  With a focus on research into communication technology, this program keeps faculty and students on the cutting edge of trends in media, information development, and delivery.

The Department also developed an undergraduate technology-based communication concentration in 2001. Along the way, faculty members designed new courses and integrated new ideas into existing courses. But there’s never been a hint of doubt that journalistic responsibility and critical thinking skills, combined with excellent writing and editing talents, form the foundation for student success in any communication arena.

A new curriculum set to kick off in the fall builds on that foundation, adding new requirements for students to understand how the latest hardware and software fit into the mix.  This curriculum recognizes that the number and types of jobs in media are expanding dramatically, and that those jobs require an understanding of how technology can enable the communication process.

Graduates provide critical professional perspective, and we’re taking advantage of their expertise. Close to 100 professionals visit campus in an average year, helping faculty members and students to identify the many new career tracks in media.

The Department’s facilities include five state-of-the-art computer labs, edit suites, a full complement of software programs and a television studio. The University also shares resources with the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation. The RMSMC, a critical partner in our success, puts students in charge of creating and reporting material for Colorado’s only daily student newspaper, a daily television newscast, a full-time FM radio station, and a quarterly magazine. With more than 300 students on the job, the RMSMC provides one of the best media-oriented educational environments in the nation.  About three-fourths of all students who work at the RMSMC are paid for their efforts.

During the past 20 years, student reporters, producers, disc jockeys, program hosts, and editors have earned more than 500 regional and national awards for their work. When they graduate, they get great jobs.

Apart from traditional, mainstream journalism and media, the Department offers communication expertise in science, environment, health, technical and agricultural specialties.  These specialized fields also rely on journalistic techniques including gathering, organizing and presenting information accurately and effectively.  The various areas offer a tremendous variety of job opportunities through publications and multimedia venues.  These jobs frequently provide starting pay rates at the high end of the scale for entry-level work.

Is the sky falling on journalism? No, it’s not.  But the venues for practicing journalism are changing, expanding and often becoming more specialized.  It’s an exciting and challenging time, to be sure.  Professional communicators have to keep up, evolving with each new change in technology, information delivery, and audience preferences.