The winter 2015 edition of MTSU Magazine profiles, arguably, MTSU’s most recognizable college — the College of Mass Communication — at a time when its multifaceted and innovative media offerings are coming of age.
Mass Comm comprises a Department of Recording Industry that’s one of the best in the country, a Department of Electronic Media Communication whose students and state-of-the-art facilities have attracted national recognition, and a tradition-rich School of Journalism that houses the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies.
For Mass Comm to fulfill its potential, though, new dean Ken Paulson, who was hired in 2013, and who was on the team of young editors that launched USA Today in the 1980s, knew the College also needed retooling.
“All traditional media have been buffeted by digital technology, and that in turn has led to cutbacks and job losses,” Paulson says in the article. “But there will always be news. There will always be music. And film. And commercial art. And communication. Our challenge is to prepare our students for the new era of opportunities.”
Preparing students to succeed despite those realities isn’t just about having tech-savvy faculty and cutting-edge tools, Paulson says. It’s about reinforcing traditional communication skills (research, writing, ethics and critical thinking) while breaking down traditional academic barriers, thinking beyond traditional media platforms, and finding nontraditional ways to communicate.
“It’s not enough for us to just teach journalism, media, and production skills,” Paulson says. “We need to anticipate the future and help reinvent these industries.”
The article details efforts underway to make the college as contemporary, innovative and prominent as possible. That includes a strategic shift that will meld the college’s two aforementioned journalism programs — the School of Journalism’s traditional program, for print, and the Department of Electronic Media Communication’s multimedia program for practically everything else — into a single, vibrant, multiplatform program poised for roll out in the fall of 2015.
From a curriculum perspective, it’s a savvy shift in approach by the college that better reflects the media industry students will enter after graduation.
Dwight Brooks, director of the School of Journalism, says in the article that there will always be a need for trained journalists in a democracy.
“But we’ve got to prepare our students for the careers that are out there,” he says. “And they all involve being able to shoot video and write for the Internet, in addition to the traditional skills of reporting and writing. That’s the tricky thing: balancing.”
In addition, Paulson plans to expand the role of the Mass Comm’s nationally recognized Center for Innovation in Media as “a laboratory for change, anticipating where the media are going and how we can ensure that our students get there ahead of it.”
Other articles in the new edition of the magazine include:
- a photo essay of MTSU’s new, $147 million Science Building, which opened for instruction late last year;
- the story of how biology professor Dr. Ryan Otter found truth in the ashes of Tennessee’s worst environmental disaster;
- a profile of MTSU professor and folklorist Patricia Gaitely, who studies the widely misunderstood Appalachian tradition of snake handling in churches;
- a look at two Honors student-athletes who excel on the field and in the classroom; and
- an alphabetical list of 26 ways MTSU proves it is committed to student success.
Readers may also download MTSU Magazine free for their iPads and Android devices. The MTSU Mag app, available in the iTunes store and now at Google Play, includes special multimedia content built into every issue that’s not available in the print editions.
Printed copies of MTSU Magazine are distributed twice annually to more than 105,000 alumni readers. The publication also is distributed to interested community members, including state lawmakers and members of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
MTSU Magazine also is available online at www.mtsumagazine.com.
— Drew Ruble (firstname.lastname@example.org)