Found dead: print journalism at UNA

For the majority of high school, I planned to go to Jacksonville State University to major in journalism. When I was a sophomore in college, I attended a community college and even then, JSU was my plan.

That same year I toured UNA and instantly fell in love with Florence and the UNA community. I thought UNA would be a good place for me to study print journalism, become involved with student media and meet professors and students who wanted to succeed in everything they did.

Unfortunately, that is not the life I have been living since moving here. Until this semester, I was blind to how I was spending my money at this university and specifically in the department of Communications.

After attending the Southeastern Journalism Conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee last month, I thought the education I was getting was fine, for the most part, then I realized UNA does not have many options and resources for communications majors and minors.

All of the professors I have in the department are wonderful, however; very few, if any, of them teach the functions of print journalism. They teach the fundamentals of journalism and the ethics, but I did not know how to format pages for a newspaper until taking the job as Life Editor for The Flor-Ala last year.

We are taught the questions to ask pertaining to who, what, when, where, why and how, but we are not taught how to formulate questions based on that format. We are not taught how to properly set up an interview with sources. We are not encouraged to write for beats outside our comfort zone.

Most of the speakers I have listened to within my classes are speaking on topics like broadcast, radio, public relations, advertising or marketing. Most communications majors are required to have an internship, but I only found my internship through networking. I could not find one through anyone in the department.

In Advanced Reporting, it is required to send articles to The Flor-Ala, but most communications majors do not take this class until their senior year. Why is it not required to do this earlier? It would be easier to become comfortable with editing and deadlines, as well as writing for an actual newspaper. It is also not encouraged to work for The Flor-Ala, or even local publications, until a student’s senior year.

Communications majors need to be able to have resources to begin finding and working for publications and companies related to their field to prepare themselves for post graduation. Portfolio Preparation is another class offered in the department, but the class is one day a week for seniors about to graduate. There are a lot of lessons needed to be learned before senior year, like how to create a website and the best times to apply for jobs and where to find them.

If I had not had prior knowledge and experience in the journalism field, I would feel more unprepared for life after graduation than I already feel. A lot of the tools and knowledge used in the workforce is a lot different than the material I learn in class. Most of the knowledge we are learning in the classroom is outdated and needs to be updated.

I love UNA and I would not be able to picture myself anywhere else, but if they care about communications based majors, it is time to reevaluate the structure and materials in the classroom. I want nothing more than to succeed after graduation, and I hope my professors and administration feel the same. This is why it is time to make these changes.