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Multimedia journalism program makes new changes for next year

In the past year, the multimedia journalism major has undergone changes in its program. Professor Catherine McMullen retired last year, leaving an opening in the English department faculty.

Other changes to the multimedia journalism include a change in program director, along with the creation of a program budget.

The program consists of 26 students, including junior Greg Fensom.

“I’d never had a class with Cathy before this year, and I wish I took more; there’s lots of insight and experience in her teaching and it makes me feel more prepared for a career in journalism,” Fensom said.

Don Rice, professor and division chair for the fine arts, took over McMullen’s position of director for the multimedia journalism major.

Rice was one of the original committee members when the program was first proposed six years ago. He served as the first director of the major for two years, and then McMullen became the director until she retired.

“So that’s what created the need for an interim [director] which was last year,” Rice said. “I came into that and now I’ve agreed to do this for one more year, since they did not find anybody to hire.”

The multimedia journalism major is an interdisciplinary major that is a combination of the English, art and communications departments. There are representatives from each department on a steering committee for the major, and the committee selects the director. Art has become a larger presence in the major, because there are now two established full-time positions in areas related to journalism, such as photography and graphic design.

“But now that we have those two [full-time positions] in art, I think you’ll see an even greater confluence of those three departments. And the idea is that we’re really co-leaders, so it’s really all three of the departments’ responsibility to keep this going,” Rice said. “Now that I’m moving out of the fine arts position, because I’ve done a full term there, it seemed to make sense for me to come in as one of the original people on the original committee to make sure the goals stayed intact.”

Rather than searching for a new director for the major, the steering committee is looking for a current faculty member to fill McMullen’s place. According to Amy Watkin, director of the English department, the English and communications departments are working together in the search to get the faculty member position filled.

According to Watkin, the departments are looking for someone with the skills to teach journalism courses such as News Writing and Feature Writing.

“We are in the process of writing that position description,” Watkin said. “We are confident that the position description will generate a strong pool of candidates.”

The multimedia journalism major is starting to grow in popularity, as more and more prospective students express interest in the major.

“I think it may be time to look at some things in terms of requirements,” Rice said. “We really want to look at whether we should offer a minor because … right now there’s no minor.”

There is another change happening to the major. Before, the major did not have its own separate budget. The Concordian and other media activities have always had their own budget, but now the program itself has one that is currently being put into place; having a budget will allow the committee to sponsor and plan events for the majors.

“We’re wanting to sponsor some events, to not only bring in some people that might be good for some students to meet with and then take workshops from and then also to just create more of a sense of community among the majors.” Rice said. “While I’m interim, I hope to kind of work on that kind of thing to get some programming going, and increase the sense of identity among the students.”

With the creation of the budget, Rice and other committee members are currently working with the art department to bring a photojournalist in early next year for a couple of days to host workshops for students.

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