Jun 12, 2021  
2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog 
2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Journalism and Mass Communication

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The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication was established in 1974 through grants from the Frank E. Gannett Foundation and other sources, the proceeds of which continue to support the program.


Chair: Professor David Mindich
Associate Professors: Jon Hyde, Traci Griffith,Kimberly Sultze
Assistant Professor: Jerald Swope

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Saint Michael’s College prepares students to be media professionals and communication consumers in an increasingly technological age. Dramatic developments in communication systems—from the Internet and the World Wide Web to digital video and interactive multimedia—are changing the way we think about fundamental concepts like community, interpersonal relationships, and democracy. At Saint Michael’s, students integrate theoretical knowledge in mass communication and the liberal arts with practical abilities to gather, evaluate and communicate information using state-of-the-art technologies. Since a journalist is, perhaps, the ultimate generalist, this melding of the arts, the sciences and hands-on communication skills is critical to our students as they learn to become effective communicators in an Information Age.

Traditionally, journalism was a degree for students interested in careers as television and newspaper reporters. That’s still true; our graduates find jobs in newsrooms all over New England. But the profession is changing rapidly and, here at Saint Michael’s, we’re changing with it. The journalism  and mass communication curriculum underwent a major revision in 1996 to reflect the revolutionary changes in the media marketplace; our curriculum provides students with the technology and learning opportunities they will need to become professional communicators in the twenty-first century.

As a journalism and mass communication student, you will learn to write quickly, accurately, and under deadline pressure. You will learn to conduct research using traditional and electronic sources. You will acquire a deep understanding of the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with being a mass communicator—whether in the newsroom or the marketplace. And you will develop a mastery of current technologies, including multimedia, desktop publishing, the Internet and the World Wide Web, digital photography, video and digitized audio. In short, you will leave Saint Michael’s prepared to work in any professional environment in which people use technology to exchange information—and that includes business, education, and social services, as well as television, newspapers, magazines and public relations.

All students at the College are required to earn a 2.0 GPA overall and in their major. Journalism and Mass Communication is a challenging major and we strongly urge students who drop below either of these numbers to select a different major.

The journalism and mass communication curriculum at Saint Michael’s is designed to ensure that students acquire a specific set of essential skills and understandings. They include:

  1. A firm grounding in the liberal arts. A professional communicator must be a generalist’s generalist, a Renaissance person in an age of specialization. Courses in philosophy, theology, English, humanities and the sciences are necessary preparation for a career dedicated to the communication of information and ideas.
  2. Substantive specialized knowledge in one or two fields, preferably a traditional or interdisciplinary academic field in the arts and sciences. Each of our students must complete a traditional minor or self-designed concentration of at least 18 credits.
  3. Verbal and computer literacy. Each of our students takes four semesters of writing, as well as a series of courses designed to instill the creative problem solving and intellectual flexibility they will need in a rapidly changing technological environment.
  4. Fundamental skills essential to their chosen field. Our curriculum retains a focus on basic journalistic skills, including newswriting, editing, and information gathering.
  5. A grounding in the ethical responsibilities of a professional communicator. Students preparing for a career in mass communication must understand the roles, freedoms and responsibilities of the media in contemporary society. Our curriculum incorporates theoretical and philosophical concepts related to the media’s role in society, with a strong emphasis on ethical considerations and issues.
  6. Connectedness. The course sequence is designed to allow students to draw connections between and among the various technologies and to develop understandings of the ways in which the delivery system impacts the message. This approach encourages students to think critically about which delivery system is appropriate to the message, to the context in which it is being communicated, and to the audience to which it is being delivered—in short, students will become familiar with the different ways of knowing and understanding mediated information.
  7. International understanding. Marshall McLuhan long ago characterized the mediated world as a global village, and there is no question that he was correct. Saint Michael’s requires all of its undergraduates to acquire experience in a foreign language. In addition, the department strongly suggests that all of our majors and minors study abroad at some point during their college careers.

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