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Program Review

Master of Arts in Journalism

College of Arts and Media
November 2015
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College/School Dean’s Recommendation
Deans, please indicate your recommendation and submit the rationale.
Continuation at current level of funding.

(If you recommend a program for resource development identify all areas for specific development)

The Master of Arts in Journalism complements a solid undergraduate program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. As is the case with the undergraduate degree, the graduate degree is deeply rooted in the liberal arts and the curricula supports the university mission to develop in our students higher orders of thinking, effective communication skills, and the ability to identify, investigate, and solve problems. Moreover, graduate students in the MA Journalism degree program are encouraged to contribute to the “store of knowledge through original research projects and through historic examinations of prominent journalism and mass communications professionals.”
As noted in the program review narrative, enrollments have been trending downward locally and nationally over the past 5 years. Faculty are cognizant of the decline and have begun discussions about curriculum reform as one part of a larger strategy to address this issue. While the spring 2015 visit by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) focused on the undergraduate degree, a telling comment in the visitors’ report applies to the undergraduate and graduate programs. They write that “the School is trying to keep up with the fast-changing media world.” Technology is changing fields of study in journalism and mass communications at lightning speed and insuring curricular currency is enormously challenging here and at institutions across the nation.
Reasons for declining numbers of students are complex and will required multilayered solutions. Relevant offerings that keep pace with technology are critical and, as mentioned above, the faculty are working on this. Recognizing and seizing new opportunities that may in part be presented by the new configuration of the College of Arts and Media could lead to stronger numbers. Making sure that our program is thoroughly and accurately promoted is one component that we can address immediately, and institutional movement toward a comprehensive marketing campaign should help in this regard. Moreover, “right sizing” the graduate program to match available resources is essential. The 32 students who were in the program five years ago is not necessarily the right number for 2015, particularly given the multiple budget reductions over the same period of time.
I am confident that the work that has begun on curriculum development, coupled with more targeted recruitment strategies, will result in a robust and appropriately sized program that continues the tradition of excellence in graduate education in journalism and mass communications. The program should continue at the current level of funding.

___Donald Van Horn__________________ ___November 3, 2015_____________

Signature of the Dean Date
Marshall University

Program Review
For purposes of program review, the academic year will begin in summer and end in spring.

Program: Master of Arts in Journalism____________________________
College: Arts and Media_________________________________________
Date of Last Review: Academic Year 2009 – 2010 ____________________


Provide your program’s mission statement. Explain how your mission supports the mission of your college and the mission of Marshall University.

Mission Statement

W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications

(adopted 2001 – 2002)

(amended 2008)

(reviewed 2014)

As a degree-granting academic unit at Marshall University, the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications pursues Marshall’s general statement of purpose. Consequently, the program’s overall mission is to provide an academic experience that seeks to enable graduates to:

  • think logically, critically and creatively, and be able to recognize this ability in others,

  • communicate ideas clearly and effectively, both in speaking and in writing,

  • evaluate the influences that help to shape individuals, institutions, and societies,

  • understand the values, achievements, and aesthetic contributions of past and present cultures, and

  • perceive, investigate and solve problems by enlisting the most appropriate historical, comparative, quantitative and qualitative research methods available.

The W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ programs and curricula are based on the conviction that future journalists and mass communicators are best prepared for life and for their careers when they are broadly educated in the liberal arts. The importance of preparing them for the demands of the workplace is also essential. Knowledge and skills essential to success in journalism and mass communications are also emphasized to prepare students for full participation – including leadership – in their professions. In addition, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ program seeks to promote knowledge and awareness about mass communications among students who do not intend to pursue careers in one of the mass communications fields.

The SOJMC offers instruction for students seeking degrees in advertising, broadcast journalism, online journalism, print journalism, public relations, radio-television production and management and sports journalism. To conform to the university’s mission and the role and realities of the mass media industries in the USA and world, the SOJMC uses teaching, research and service to contribute to Marshall’s mission and, to that end, has adopted specific goals essential to the achievement of the University’s mission.

The SOJMC seeks to:

  • provide journalism and mass communications instruction for students primarily from the state of West Virginia and the areas of Kentucky and Ohio that comprise the Tri-State region;

  • graduate a pool of qualified employees for the advertising, magazine, newspaper, public relations, online journalism, radio and television industries;

  • provide assistance to high school media programs in the West Virginia and in the Tri-State region;

  • provide information to alumni about the school’s activities and assist alumni with career advancement;

  • work with journalism and mass communications professionals on programs of mutual benefit, and

  • make a special effort to provide opportunities for women and racial and ethnic minorities.

And to graduate students who:

  • understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;

  • demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;

  • demonstrate an understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications;

  • demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society;

  • understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;

  • demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;

  • think critically, creatively and independently;

  • conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;

  • write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;

  • critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;

  • apply basic numerical and statistical concepts; and

  • apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications’ mission supports the university mission in overarching philosophies and in specific tactics. Its programs and curricula are steeped in the liberal arts tradition of broad education that best prepares students for their careers and for their lives. Journalism and mass communications requirements combine skills classes and courses in ethics, law and history of the field.Decision-making and writing in all majors in the school demand critical thinking and commentary on societal issues, and critical discourse is at the heart of journalism and mass communications.

Students in skills courses frequently work with local businesses to assist them in crafting public messages. Media convergence is driving examination of current applications of new technologies and demanding flexibility as students adapt to rapidly shifting work demands. The school is currently involved in an intense, year-long curriculum review that interlocks with the university mission of helping meet changing needs of the state and region.
As an academic unit that produces products for public consumption, the mission of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications meshes easily with that of the College of Arts and Media. Publishing in any medium requires discovery, application, transmission and advancement of knowledge, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration to be relevant and compelling. Information conveyed through print publications, broadcasts, websites and commercial messages enrich the campus and the community.
The School works closely with Information Technology collaborating on MU Report, Basketball Friday Night and Ya’ Herd. WMUL-FM offers valuable experience to students from any major. This academic year, 45 different majors are represented among its student staff members. Of the 115 volunteers, 61 are journalism and mass communications majors, eight are from other schools in the College of Arts and Media and 46 are from other colleges on campus. WMUL-FM also contributes to the University’s Title IX commitments by its exclusive coverage of women’s athletics and provides the only programming in the community specifically geared toward minority populations. The Parthenon has served as the campus newspaper since 1898.
The School contributes faculty members to First Year Seminar and also works with the Honors Program providing honors courses and offering general studies credit for honors seminars.
It is through the graduate programs in particular that the School of Journalism and Mass Communications meets the university mission strategy to “undertake intensive graduate-level education in their chosen fields upon admission to graduate school, giving them solid foundations for becoming competent professionals.” The graduate program advances students who have completed journalism and mass communications degrees in undergraduate school, helps those without degrees in the field to retool, and introduces higher level scholarly thinking that has been the foundation for students who continue in doctoral programs. More so in the graduate courses than in undergraduate courses students are encouraged to contribute to the store of knowledge through original research projects and through historic examinations of prominent journalism and mass communications professionals.

  1. Adequacy of the Program

  1. Curriculum: Summarize degree requirements and provide commentary on significant features of the curriculum. See Appendix I for a list of required courses, elective courses, and total hours required

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate programs include a 30-hour Master’s of Arts in Journalism (MAJ), a 30-hour MAJ with a health care public relations emphasis, a 30-hour fully online MAJ with a new media emphasis and 15-hour graduate certificates in digital communications, media management or integrated strategic communications.

Journalism and mass communications master’s students choose from professional or thesis tracks to complete the required 30 credit hours. All students complete the 15-hour journalism and mass communications 600-level core and an additional 15 hours selected in consultation with the graduate adviser. Successful completion of a comprehensive assessment is required for graduation.
All journalism and mass communications master’s students complete core courses of:

• JMC 600 —JMC Proseminar

• JMC 601 —Theory of Mass Communications

• JMC 602 —Mass Communications Research and Methodology

• JMC 604 —Ethics and Law

• JMC 612 —History of American Journalism and Mass Communications

(International students may substitute another JMC course for JMC 612 with the approval of the graduate coordinator.)
A statistics course also is required for students who have not completed a statistics course that meets the approval of the graduate coordinator. EDF 517 or an equivalent statistic course, and JMC 601 are prerequisites for JMC 602. Students with no prior experience in the mass communications field are required to complete JMC 501—Multi-media writing. At least one half of all graduate credit must be above the 500 level.

In addition to required core courses, each student plans, in conjunction with the graduate coordinator and a professor in an area of concentration, the remainder of their graduate program. Students may opt to focus on advertising, broadcast journalism, print journalism, public relations, sports or radio/television. It is in the non-core courses that students will find some flexibility in constructing a graduate program to meet individual goals.

The professional track requires:

• five core courses (15 credit hours);

• fifteen credit hours in a concentration to fulfill professional goals for a total of 30 credit hours;

• any undergraduate courses determined by the graduate coordinator to be necessary, and

• successful completion of the comprehensive examination.
The thesis track is appropriate for students planning to pursue doctoral degrees and for others with a special interest in research. It requires:

• five core courses (15 credit hours),

• nine credit hours in a concentration to fulfill professional goals for a total of 24 credit hours;

• a six-credit hour thesis;

• any background graduate or undergraduate courses determined by the graduate coordinator to be necessary, and

• successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

The health care emphasis differs from the general MAJ in that it requires six additional core hours and electives are directed from a prescribed list, i.e., from a list of “forced electives.” Program requirements are:

• five core courses (15 credit hours),

• JMC 620—Public Relations in Health Care

• JMC 539—Public Relations Campaign Management

• CL 105—Medical Terminology (undergraduate credit does not count toward graduation)

• nine hours elected from

JMC 537—Public Relations Writing

JMC 641—Web/Online Strategies

CMM 574—Health Communication

HCA 600—The Health Care System

HCA 640—The Health Care Professional or HCA 655—Health Care Marketing

JMC 508—Strategic Communications Research

The new media master’s program takes advantage of online versions of several core courses and it added a number of new courses designed specifically to deliver the program content. It requires:

• JMC 604—JMC Law and Ethics

• JMC 605—Master’s Initiative Network

• JMC 606—Depth Reporting

• JMC 640—Design Thinking

• JMC 682—Master’s Initiative (6 hrs.)

Select six hours from:

• JMC 500—Photojournalism

• JMC 562—Web Design for Mass Media

• JMC 612—History of Mass Communication

• JMC 641—Web/Online Strategies for JMC

• JMC 678—Organizational Storytelling

• JMC 643—New Media Cultures

Select six hours, with adviser’s approval, from graduate courses outside Journalism and Mass Communications

Cross-listed courses, the majority of the 500-level courses, are offered generally on an every other semester rotation. The remaining 500-level classes offered within a wider rotation window and offerings frequently are driven by student interest and demand.
Attachment A, the graduate student guidebook, presents a more detailed review of the journalism and mass communications graduate programs.

  1. Faculty: Summarize significant points relating to faculty teaching courses within the major (percentage of faculty holding tenure, extent of use of part-time faculty, level of academic preparation, faculty development efforts, books & journal articles, papers & attendance at state, regional and national professional organization meetings). Include part-time faculty and graduate assistants you employed during the final year of this review. See Appendix II for Faculty Data Sheets. See Appendix II-A for graduate teaching assistants.

Twelve full-time faculty members in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications teach a complement of 80 undergraduate course sections on average each year excluding summer school sessions. About 1130 seats are filled in the 80 sections. The accrediting agency limits enrollment to no more than 20 students in any skills class which caps the number of individuals allowed in selected classes. In the final year of the reporting period, the school had roughly 280 majors, making a student faculty ratio of 1:23, and enrollment in the school comprises 44 percent of the students majoring in the College of Arts and Media.

Cross-listed graduate/undergraduate courses account for approximately 20 of the 80 sections offered each year, and graduate only courses generate an additional ten sections a year. Graduate enrollment fills on an average an additional 106 seats per year.
Among the twelve faculty members nine are tenured (75 percent), one is tenure-track (8.3 percent) and one is term (8.3 percent). A full-time, tenure track position (8.3 percent) is currently filled with a one-year, full-time temporary faculty member and the school is awaiting permission to conduct a search to fill the position permanently.
A master’s degree in field is a minimum requirement for all faculty. Three faculty members have earned Ph.Ds. (25 percent), one has an Ed.D (8.3 percent) and three are A.B.D (25 percent), two in Ph.D. programs and one in the Ed.D. program. All faculty members practiced in the profession prior to teaching and most continue to consult and stay active in the field. Four faculty members (33 percent) are beyond the age of 60, setting the stage for a significant turnover and replacement with non-tenured, assistant professors and reconfiguring the composition of the faculty.
Four journalism and mass communications faculty have graduate faculty status and six have associate graduate faculty status.
The assigned teaching load in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications is four three-hour courses per semester. Two faculty members are assigned six-hours of media advising of WMUL and of The Parthenon as part of their four/four loads. The director is granted a 75 percent reassignment. The Woodson Professorship carries with it a six-hour reassignment for grant management and coordination of a Summer Journalism Workshop. A term faculty member is the university coordinator of First Year Seminar and receives a 75 percent course reassignment to manage that program. Faculty members are assigned academic advising for the majors, plus they work with student professional organizations including the American Advertising Federation, the National Broadcasting Society, the Public Relations Student Society of America, and the Society of Professional Journalists.
A few adjunct faculty are in recurring positions that the school relies upon regularly. Two highly qualified adjuncts teach online courses on a regular basis and one videographer augments the regular broadcast and video faculty. Most others adjuncts are hired on an as needed basis to replace faculty on sabbaticals or who are teaching in First Year Seminar or Honors. Adjuncts also are used to extend the course offerings during a semester beyond that which the full-time faculty can cover. The school receives funding to hire adjuncts when faculty teach in First Year Seminar and in Honors courses in order to foster participation in those programs.
Most adjuncts are hired from a pool of area practitioners with an interest in teaching. Adjuncts rarely if ever teach in the graduate program, and graduate assistants never teach graduate courses. Only infrequently, when exceptional graduate students present themselves, does the school rely on graduate teaching assistants. In the year preceding this review the school employed as it is done every semester adjuncts Ruth Sullivan, a public school teacher, and William Bissett, President of Kentucky Coal Association to teach online courses in Fundamentals of Journalistic Writing and Editing and Fundamentals of Public Relations respectively. Ronda Moncada, a graduate of the program and a public school teacher taught Information Gathering and Research at the Teays Valley Regional Center, and Chris Atkins, an experienced videographer taught Introduction to Video Production. Ashleigh Graham-Smith, director of client services at Bulldog Creative taught Fundamentals of Strategic Communications, and William Rosenberger, a veteran news reporter and currently WPR Public Relations Consulting and city councilman taught Magazine Article Writing. The school was extremely fortunate to have Hanna Francis, a five-year veteran of the broadcast industry, teaching Television News Broadcasting that allowed the broadcast news professor to take a sabbatical.
In the last four years the School of Journalism and Mass Communications has relied on an uncharacteristically high number of adjunct faculty spurred by sabbatical leaves and vacancies covered by temporary and/or part-time replacements. Adjuncts also offer courses at the Teays Valley Regional Center and at the Mid Ohio Valley Center. Despite the need for additional adjuncts to cover sabbatical leaves and FYS and Honors courses, the majority of journalism and mass communications courses continue to be taught by full-time faculty. The lowest percentage of sections taught by full-time faculty was 79 percent in the spring of 2012 and the highest was 93 percent in the fall of 2013. On an average full-time faculty teach 86 percent of the sections offered.
Faculty data sheets reflect a productive faculty who have increased their scholarly and creative activity in the past six years. The School of Journalism and Mass Communications can demonstrate quantifiably increased scholarship and creative productivity. Fourteen individuals (including faculty members who have come and gone during the review period) have generated 242 scholarly and professional articles, scholarly and professional presentations, grants, conference proceedings, encyclopedia entries, book reviews and creative works. The total number of discrete projects rose from 153 reported in the 2008 to 242 in 2014, a 58 percent increase. Grants rose from 20 in the previous report to 29 in the current report (+45 percent), refereed journal articles moved from four to 20 (+400 percent), refereed conference paper presentations went from 18 to 58 (+222 percent), invited professional conference presentations grew from 17 to 26 (+53 percent), and non-refereed publications rose from 32 to 48 (+50 percent).
Within available funding the school strives to send each faculty member to at least one academic conference for scholarly presentation and/or development each year. Since 2010 eight faculty members have attended approximately 30 national conferences and four regional conferences (an average of 1.4 trips per year per participating faculty member).
Marshall University’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is active in encouraging effective teaching. Each fall the academic year is launched with a conference (Inquiring Pedagogies) organized by the CTL that features a keynote breakfast speaker who addresses his or her approach to teaching followed by a day of workshops. Not only do Journalism and Mass Communications faculty attend on a regular basis, but five of them have conducted workshops for the program. Most of the faculty also have attended one or more Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) workshops. Adjuncts are encouraged to participate in the center’s forums for adjunct faculty training.

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