Journalism department expands alongside VMA downsize

by Kaitlyn Bryson / Beacon Correspondent • September 21, 2017

Emerson journalism department enrollment increased by 6 percent since last year.

Of 687 applicants accepted into the journalism department, 128 enrolled in the college, said Director of Admissions Michael Lynch. This is the highest number of students to be enrolled in the program in the past three years, Lynch said.

Journalism department chair Janet Kolodzy said sheattributes this increase in enrollment and overall interest in the profession to a variety of reasons, one of the most prominent being that the journalism program has been rated the number one program in the country, according to USA Today.

“We have that number one ranking because of our [alumni] and the work that they do, because of our faculty, because of their consistent belief that we need to be innovative and forward-thinking and trying new things and new approaches in journalism,” Kolodzy said. 

Another factor in the surge of interest intheprogram, and the profession in general, can be credited to the country’s current political climate, Kolodzy said. 

“Journalism has moved from being taken for granted … we have kind of gotten complacent about journalism. I think for a lot of people that attitude of complacency changed with the man in the White House,” she said. 

The Journalism Department worked all summer to improve how it teaches the profession in order to remain true to the prestigious USA Todayranking, Assistant Dean of the School of Communication Paul Niwa said. These updates include advanced developments to the CreativityKit with free downloadable software such as InDesign and Photoshop, developmental training of professors, and a radical structure change to the curriculum, Niwa said. 

According to Niwa, the department trained the faculty on new approaches to teaching journalism as it applies to the world today over the summer. The changes to the curriculum include a focus on multimedia platforms to provide students with skills in all facets of the profession to prepare them for the field.

“We are reinvigorating the learning of journalism at Emerson and we are very excited about that,” Kolodzy said. 

Junior journalism major Paul Ross said he applauds the changes made in the department over the past year, crediting these developments in the program to the school’s ranking.

“Emerson knows we need to be geared towards careers,” he said, explaining how the program helps students become reporters in the 21st century. Ross is currently enrolled in the Washington D.C. center program.

While the journalism department increased in size and resources, the visual and media arts department decreased in numbers, by approximately 2 percent  over the last year. The decrease in accepted students was an intentional and necessary decision to stabilize the number of students in the 2021 class, Lynch said.

Niwa said that the downsizing of the VMA department does not hurt the program, but provides the growing journalism department more room.

“[VMA] has continued to grow and grow and they became the largest [department] by far in piece of enrollment and that creates a lot of pressure on the department itself and faculty. Journalism, based on all of these different efforts, has allowed the VMA class to shrink a little bit,” Niwa said. “That is welcomed by VMA. It is welcomed by the college.”