Journalism and TCF faculty propose department merge


The Journalism and Telecomunications & Film are considering the proposal to merge the two departments to help students better prepare for the real world that is converging with media and reporting. CW | Savannah Kelly

Kyarra Harris

Wilson Lowrey, department chair of journalism, said this idea has been talked about for some time, and though not yet official, both departments are brainstorming 
and planning.

“This starts with the students,” Lowrey said. “A lot of times they want to do both journalism and TCF.”

Currently, students in either journalism or TCF have a difficult time taking classes in the other major. However, with changes in the way many people get their news, like social media and television, it’s become imperative for upcoming reporters to know many different skills.

“We’ve had students whose focus may be in radio or broadcast, but they’ve wanted to do the writing and reporting as well,” Lowrey said. “But of course they’re always better off if they have all of that, so what we’re working toward is to help students stop having to make those choices.”

A committee was created of faculty members in both departments, led by Andy Billings and Matthew Bunker, to work on the curriculum and other details they will propose. Dianne Bragg, assistant professor in journalism and also a committee member, said a number of schools across the country have already made merges.

“All of us on the committee have taken trips to other schools who have either done something like this or similar to it so that we can see what works for them, what doesn’t work, and what they would do differently,” Bragg said. “Under Dean Nelson’s leadership, we’ve been given resources to do that, and we are moving in a very deliberate manner and trying to be as careful as we can and eliminate any 
unnecessary mistakes.”

William Evans, interim chair for TCF, said they are hoping for the plans to be approved and take effect next fall. However, these changes will not necessarily take place for those currently majoring in either journalism or TCF.

“Students will stick with the catalog in which they are admitted,” Evans said. “For those who are interested to opt-in to a new program, we want to accommodate that, but no one is forced to change 
their curriculum.”

Lowrey said no changes will be made until the curriculum is approved. If it is, students may only see administrative changes in the fall of 2016.

“The plan is for fall 2017, to be more fundamental change and merging, but even then, most of the core classes will probably remain the same,” Lowrey said.

Mark Nelson, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, said there will be a search for a new department head if the merge is approved.

Lowrey said there will be a new class next semester that will take sports journalism students and sports TCF students and allow them to collaborate with writing and filming while also learning together.

“The class will sort of help us get our feet wet,” Lowrey said. “It’s an opportunity for one of our faculty members and one of theirs, and it will teach us a little bit about teaching.”

Kristen Warner, assistant professor in TCF, said though this is still the beginning phase of the merge, she could remember back to her undergrad years and how her professors told her something very similar.

“I was a print journalism major,” she said, “One of the things that was always talked about was convergence and how we needed to be able to shoot, produce and edit as well as write. So I agree that this will be beneficial to students, particularly those who are interested in going off to be reporters in the future.”