New minor combines journalism with new media

Senior Lauren Murray uses new media Instagram to share a television appearance by the director of the Rosie Parks Restoration Project with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s online audience during her summer internship.
September 17, 2013

Major changes in traditional newspapers and news media have sparked a new minor at McDaniel – one that puts a digitally savvy spin on the best of journalism.

“The world needs college graduates who can ask good questions, craft stories, and chase down leads,” says Kate Dobson, associate professor of English who oversees the Journalism and New Media minor with assistant professor of English Paul Muhlhauser. “Those skills cannot be allowed to go out of style.”

The new minor combines the journalist’s skills with digital know-how to produce stories for a variety of platforms and types of media, Dobson says.

“We believe businesses will be interested in graduates who have these skills, and we know that liberal-arts graduates make good citizen-journalists,” she says, deferring to Muhlhauser for a closer look at the new media studies involved in the minor.

“The new journalists will need to know how to use new media to gather information and to package that information in a way that engages their audiences,” says Muhlhauser, who teaches “New Media Writing” and “Multimedia Authoring” among other new media courses.

“They need to speak geek,” says Dobson, who sees the new minor as journalism infused with new media.

In coursework, students learn about the digital tools available for them to package and present their stories. They learn how to mix imagery, words, fonts, sounds, music and more. Students work with social media platforms using infographics, podcasts, blogs and vlogs to build a web presence. Filtering or sorting information is important too, Dobson says, otherwise they are “drinking from a fire hose.” 

Students may someday use these skills and tools on the job to present stories and messages representing a non-profit, corporation or news outlet. Others may be what Dobson calls citizen-journalists – bloggers, tweeters, Facebook posters or all of the above, with their own story or news to share.

Senior Lauren Murray put the minor to the test over the summer during her internship with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. An English major and editor of the McDaniel student newspaper, Murray is passionate about using new media in tandem with solid journalism skills to really communicate with people and not just tell them.

“That’s what new media is about – communicating,” she says, crediting her courses in the minor with introducing her to new tools and techniques and showing her how to optimize their use. “Everything I’ve learned helped me keep up with my boss who was really awesome at using social media to market the museum. She’s the reason the museum has more than 10,000 likes on Facebook.”