Program redesign: Innovating for a Digital World

March 11, 2019

New students entering the Journalism major at CSUN will experience a vastly different program, following a significant redesign, partly inspired by massive disruption in the news and media professions. 

The new Journalism major emphasizes multimedia digital storytelling, news literacy and engaging diverse communities, overlaying Journalism with formal options in Broadcast and Public Relations.

The CSUN Department of Journalism recently launched the reinvention during its 60thanniversary year. The transition began in Fall 2018, and affects all future first-time freshmen and transfer students. Chief among the changes: formal options in Broadcast (radio/television) and Public Relations, more than two dozen new and revamped courses and significant changes to the requirements outside the major. 

Among the new courses: Multimedia and Multiplatform Storytelling, plus News Literacy, Engaging Diverse Communities and Public Relations Campaigns. Students will experience new higher-unit practicums in news, broadcast and public relations, and have the opportunity to gain all-important Media Leadership skills. 

“The redesign maintains our longstanding focus on strong writing skills and a broad liberal arts education,” said Department Chair Linda Bowen, “while significantly increasing the number of units taken in major courses.”

In response to students’ needs, Journalism’s new program creates formal options in Broadcast and Public Relations, following a similar “framework” structure as the revised major. The redesign also accommodates the Associate Degree for Transfer in Journalism, allowing community college students who have met the requirements to receive priority admission consideration.

The Department’s award-winning Interdisciplinary Minor in Spanish-Language Journalism remains the same high-impact program founded in 2006, while the Journalism minor adjusts to adapts to the changes in the overall major. Minors in Broadcast and Public Relations are in the planning stages.

At least 15 other courses also were updated and modified to reflect changes in the profession. Among them is JOUR 498 Senior Project, now a capstone course in which students complete a multiplatform portfolio project, in their graduating semester. It replaces the former JOUR 498 Senior Tutorial.

“These changes were driven by the urgent need to deliver contemporary and relevant curriculum that will ensure students can graduate on time,” said Bowen, “in tandem with consequential changes in our national accreditation standards.”

The first significant change to the curriculum since 2004, the redesign finally addresses massive technological and other dramatic transformations in news media production, dissemination and consumption, Bowen noted.At the same time, faculty eliminated a stifling collateral field requirement in favor of strongly encouraged interdisciplinary fields or minors.

“Students can create specialties in social justice, ethnic studies or sustainability, for example,” Bowen said.

The new curriculum addresses changes in the Department’s accreditation standards, as well. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications relaxed the Curriculum and Instruction standards. In addition to the 48 units in the major, students now must complete a “minimum of 72 semester credit hours required for a baccalaureate degree outside of journalism and mass communications and meet the liberal arts and sciences-general education requirements of the institution.”

This rule change effectively terminates the sometimes daunting “80-65 Rule,” which required students to complete 80 units out of Journalism with a minimum of 65 units in Liberal Arts, Sciences and the Humanities (LASH). The “80-65 Rule” and the companion 15-unit Collateral Field, increasingly created challenges, especially for students who wanted to take collateral fields outside of LASH and for some transfer students.

For more information about the program and the curriculum redesign, please contact the Journalism Department, at 818-677-3135, by email, or social media.