The English program is not going anywhere, but Seton Hill is graduating its last “New Media Journalism” major this year. Likewise, students who graduate under the current catalog won’t get diplomas that say “Literature” or “Creative Writing.”
This was a step that the English faculty took on our own initiative, in the context of a nationwide drop in Humanities majors, which had made it too expensive (in terms of faculty time) to justify staffing so many under-enrolled upper-level classes.
We combined three related programs into a single “English: Literature, Journalism and Creative Writing” major, with three distinct tracks.
It was hard to say good-bye to the 300-level “Media and Culture” and “Media Aesthetics” and the 400-level “New Media Projects,” but they were often under-enrolled and sometimes I had to agree to take on another class for no extra pay in order to keep these boutique courses running. Each was only offered every other year, so I often ended up covering these gratis as independent studies so that students could graduate on time.
But with changes to the freshman comp program, which now includes a multimodal project, all students at Seton Hill are getting a taste of the multimedia, project-oriented workflow. So there’s less need for a dedicated upper-level course. These days, I can much more easily include multimodal components in any course I teach, and students are generally very eager to give each other solid peer feedback.
We’ve created a few more core courses, including a career workshop course that all majors take (previously only the journalism majors took such a course), made internships part of every track (again previously only the journalism students were required to take internships) and we re-imagined our “Intro to Literary Study” course as a friendly welcome for first-semester students (rather than a course to take in the spring after surviving a semester of freshman comp).
Instead of teaching a 200-level “News Writing” course every other year, I am now teaching a 100-level “News, Arts and Sports Writing” course every fall. (Students can re-take that class on a more advanced “editor” track, where they get credit for reviewing student submissions so students can revise them before submitting them to me; that has proved very popular all around, and we’ve had a few students re-take that course more than once.)
Change is inevitable, and it’s often good. These days, all journalism is new media journalism, so the program title “New Media Journalism” was no longer relevant.
I started thinking about all the above after I came across this Poynter article on starting a journalism career in a pandemic.
Your goal should be to find a newsroom job as opposed to the newsroom job, recognizing that the position you get now might very well be a placeholder for the next thing. You’ll gain experience (and, hopefully, a paycheck) and you’ll position yourself for the future. More broadly, careers are long and tend to build in a way in which you least expect them to. Embrace the mystery even as you continue to aim for your long-term goals. —Poynter