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Journalism in the Digital Age: Grad Schools Adapting to New Media

Journalism isn’t what it used to be. Within the last decade or so, the internet has created a hailstorm among printed publications, forcing news aggregates to rethink their methods of delivering current and breaking stories. Grad schools know this is happening, and rather than telling students they have to figure things out on their own, professors are now coming up with ways to change their curricula to reflect the changing atmosphere.

So what does that mean for you? If you’re going to grad school for a master’s degree in communications and thinking about pursuing a career in journalism, you will likely take courses that have to do with new forms of media. These classes could include anything from blog writing and tweeting 101 to videography and web design.

Here are some schools that have recently revamped their journalism curricula to reflect industry changes:

Multimedia Journalism, Boston University

Just a few years ago, the College of Communication at Boston University only had three departments: broadcast, photo and news writing. With the growing demand for journalism majors to have experience with the internet, the school has created an entirely new area of study: the web. When photojournalism students were asked to cover the Boston Marathon this past spring, they were required to tweet their images moments after taking them – something that was almost unheard of just a few years ago.

Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado at Boulder

Grad students getting their master’s in communications at the University of Colorado at Boulder are now required to concentrate in fields other than journalism, including international affairs, public relations and politics. This gives students the opportunity to dabble in other areas that may interest them and potentially lead to more job prospects.

Recently, web journalist Robert Hernandez spoke to students about the importance of social media in today’s news market. Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media are a necessity for burgeoning journalists, according to Hernandez, and a vital tool for telling stories. This fast-paced community caters to communications students who are motivated and ready to take on the world.

“The thing that college has to offer, whether it’s undergrad or grad, is a place to think and explore,” Hernandez said during his lecture. “You can lean back, cross your arms and wait for it to come to you or you can lean forward and engage, and in leaning forward and engaging, you can learn a whole hell of a lot.”

Digital Journalism: Stanford University

The internet provides visual forms of information. These infographics are quickly becoming a popular way for news aggregates to simplify complex statistics for their mainstream audience, and Stanford University’s digital journalism graduate program teaches students how to be news writers and graphic designers at the same time. If you decide to take courses here, your final project will consist of building a Flash website, providing a news website with internet marketing techniques and creating a data-driven story, complete with visualization tools.

Visual Communication and Multimedia, Carnegie Mellon University

U.S. News and World Report ranked Carnegie Mellon’s visual communication and multimedia program the best grad program of its kind in the country. Similar to the Stanford program, this graduate area of study focuses on the growing demand for graphic designers to merge with data-heavy information and create visual interpretations. The internet is the perfect platform for these new forms of communication.