Reimagining Our Programs as J-Schools Reimagine Theirs

Many scholastic journalism advisers are looking to rethink their program structures and some will even be working to re-write/write curriculum this year for their programs. Maurreen Skowran created an interesting post in March on entitled “Reimagining J-School Programs in Midst of Changing News Industry.” It’s an article all journalism advisers should look at as we rethink how our scholastic programs should be setup and what we should be teaching.

In the article, she creates a ficticious college program in civic media. She outlines courses that would be offered and covers everything from digital technology and business to service media and multimedia. If anything, it’s a good place to start a discussion of how to expand the traditional programs which populate most schools today and focus solely on writing, print design and photography. While this is an imaginary college program in Skowran’s piece, it should start the discussion with us about how we restructure our journalism programs or even what we teach in an intro journalism class and how we teach it.

For example, at the very least, traditional print programs need to be expanding to work with multimedia. Students need to be trained in basic videography and audio gathering as well as editing video and creating slideshows. That is an easy entry point to move online and multimedia projects help add a missing piece to print stories, complimenting the stories and helping bring them to life. This move doesn’t even have to be an expensive one as basic video [MovieMaker (PC) & iMovie (Mac)] and audio editing software [Garageband (Mac) Audacity (cross-platform open-source)]  comes with computers or is available as a free download. Most students have digital cameras and a few have digital video recorders. In addition, the Web is full of video tutorials on how to put things together so we as advisers should not feel as though our lack of knowledge in an area is a problem. The answers and tutorials are out there somewhere – and many are very good.

Multimedia isn’t the only component we need to add to our programs. What else do we need to be teaching in high school classrooms in 2009 and how would you re-imagine a scholastic journlaism program in these changing times?

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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