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Our Curriculum

 

We experienced momentous changes over the last year when we moved into the Belo Center for New Media, our new state-of-the-art building, and launched a new digital-based, state-of-the-art curriculum for undergraduates. So what does this mean for our students?

It means you’ll be learning multimedia skills, producing your own websites and creating your own digital portfolio from the day you enter the school.

It also means you’ll be undertaking a professional internship and finishing your studies with a capstone course in multimedia journalism. You’ll be learning to think like a journalist, learning to report and write like one as well, and you’ll emerge prepared to tell stories in different ways across many news platforms.

We’re eliminating the old walls between print, magazine, photojournalism, multimedia and broadcast, and we’ll be emphasizing good writing and critical thinking from Day One.

The new curriculum also streamlines the number of courses and your path from entry to graduation. This will assist students in effectively completing their degree requirements within a four-year graduation plan.

It requires you to get a professional internship and provides a capstone experience through a multimedia newsroom course that will prepare you for the fast-changing world of professional journalism in the digital age.

And for those of you who decide not to pursue a journalism career, the new curriculum provides the tools and sensibility--- solid independent research, critical thinking and direct, accessible writing---that can help you succeed in a wide variety of fields.

Some fine print: There are five levels of coursework, and not all courses are offered every semester. The listings below are preliminary; please check the 2012-14 course catalog and consult with your undergraduate advisors for up-to-date information and to work on a degree plan to keep you on track for a four-year graduation.

Guiding Principles

These are big and important changes that will affect what you learn and how you learn it. But the primary mission of the School of Journalism remains the same: to educate students to think critically and skeptically; gather a wide range of information accurately, honestly and fairly; hold institutions, individuals and themselves accountable for their promises and their deeds; and produce stories in various media platforms that communicate clearly, concisely and powerfully to the general public. The goal of our new curriculum is to further this mission.

We strive to produce journalists who are grounded in traditional values yet familiar with all of the tools for information-gathering and communication that modern technology provides. We seek to use these new tools not only to teach journalism but also to create and present original stories that better inform and educate our students and the public. And because we are part of a great state university with a public trust, our mission extends beyond training journalists to preparing all students to be discerning, critical and knowledgeable members of our democracy.

Journalists seek to connect things: ideas, information and communities. We want to break down the barriers between disciplines and institutions and create partnerships of learning and knowledge. Our new curriculum reflects the need for help you gather deeper and more specialized knowledge in your chosen field of study, and to engage with the outside world through professional internships and participation in our own news-gathering platforms.

In all of our courses, we seek to emphasize the value and power of good writing, which is crucial to the educational process. Whether for professional or scholarly purposes, the best writing is direct, clear, concise, lively and accessible. Our goal is to teach you to communicate clearly and demystify information without devaluing its richness or complexity.

Pathway of Coursework

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Courses

  • J 301F Fundamental Issues in Journalism
  • J 302F Digital Storytelling Basics
  • COM 316 Photographic Communication
  • J 303F Graphic Design for Online & Print
  • J 310F Reporting: Words
  • J 311F Reporting: Images
  • J 321F Reporting on City & County Government
  • J 330F Television Reporting & Producing
  • J 331F Entrepreneurial Journalism
  • J 332F News Editing for Online & Print
  • J 333F Data-Driven Reporting
  • J 324F Business and Financial Journalism
  • J 335F Magazine Writing & Production
  • J 336F Social Media Journalism
  • J 337F Long-form Feature Writing
  • J 338F Advanced Visual Design
  • J 339F Investigative Reporting
  • J 339T Web Design for Journalism
  • J 340F Covering the Global Economy
  • J 342F Women & the News
  • J 331G Audio Storytelling
  • J 333G Advanced Visual Journalism: Photo
  • J 334G Advanced Visual Journalism: Video
  • J 335G Advanced Television Reporting & Producing
  • J 343G Exploring Digital Media & Society
  • J 349T Globalization & Social Media
  • J 342G Reporting the World
  • J 347F Reporting Latin America
  • J 348F Covering the Latino Communit in the U.S.
  • J 349G Sports Journalism
  • J 359T Actual Innocence Project
  • J 349T Rhetoric of Visual Media
  • J 349T Sports, Media & the Integration of America
  • J 350F Media Law
  • J 351F Journalism, Society & the Citizen Journalist
  • J 353F Historical Perspectives in Journalism
  • J 359T Journalism Portfolio
  • J 360F Internship
  • J 361F Reporting Texas

Course Syllabi are available here.

LeveI 1– Foundations (6 credits)

 

Students will start the program with two required courses that introduce you to the critical values and sensibility at the heart of the journalistic method and the digital tools to communicate that method. J 301F Fundamental Issues in Journalism grounds you in the role of news media in a democratic society and focuses on the changing nature of the profession and key controversies journalists have faced and created. J 302F Digital Storytelling Basics presents multiple technologies for digital delivery of text, photos, audio and video news across journalism platforms. You also learn to create your own personal websites, which will become the digital portfolio for all of your work at the school and your calling card when you seek jobs and professional internships. These courses may be completed in the first year.

Also available: COM 316, an introduction to Photographic Communication recommended for anyone seeking to understand the role of photography in the modern world, and required for students who decide to pursue advanced photojournalism coursework; and J 303F Graphic Design for Online and Print, which offers an overview of design principles, visual perception, typography, manipulation of images and photographs, and page design for various media platforms.

pathway of courses

Courses in this level

J 301F Fundamental Issues in Journalism

With democracy and news media facing serious challenges, journalistic ideals are more important than ever. Learn about the centrality of journalism in our political life.

J 302F Digital Storytelling Basics

Today’s multimedia storytelling requires mastering multiple technologies. Learn the basic skills journalists need in the digital age.

J 303F Graphic Design for Online & Print

Unleashing creativity requires knowledge of design fundamentals. Learn the basics of visual design that makes print and online journalism stand out. This class stresses originality and experimentation in ideas, execution and presentation.

Level 2 – Applications (6 credits)

All good journalism begins with reporting---the gathering of a wide range of information in a comprehensive, independent, even-handed, thorough and ethical manner and the critical processing of that information. J 310F Reporting: Words focuses on reporting, writing and editing skills for print, web and broadcast. Its companion course, J 311F Reporting: Images does the same with photography, video and design. They are both required for journalism majors. You must complete Level 1 coursework with a C or higher before taking Level 2 courses, and journalism majors must get a B or better for each Level 2 course. These courses may be completed in the first or second year upon successful completion of Level 1 coursework.

Pathway of Course

Courses in this level

J 310F Reporting: Words

Technology changes but crucial reporting, writing and editing skills remain the same. Learn the basics from faculty with professional journalism experience.

J 311F Reporting: Images

Images have always told stories in powerful ways, and digital tools expand that storytelling. Learn about still photography and video from faculty with professional journalism experience.

J 311G Audio Storytelling

The examination and practice of writing news for podcast. 

Level 3 - Specialized Issues and Skills (9 to 15 credits)

Having acquired basic digital journalism tools, skills and sensibility in Levels 1 and 2, you are now ready to drill down into specialized, content-driven courses that give you the opportunity to do in-depth reporting and go deeper into various subjects and themes, as well as the chance to develop more specialized journalistic skills. The idea is to deepen your skills, knowledge and critical thinking, while at the same time prepare you for a professional world where journalists increasingly need to be specialists in their fields. You must complete Level 2 coursework with a grade of B or better before attempting coursework at Level 3 or above. These courses may be completed in the second, third, or fourth year upon successful completion of Level 2 coursework.

You must take one course from each of three categories:

Category One: Public Affairs Reporting

These are the traditional beat reporting courses in areas such as cops, courts, city hall, schools and state government. We require you to take one of them, so that every student undergoes the experience of learning and covering a beat.

J 320F Covering Law Enforcement and Courts

"Cops and Courts" is the most basic beat in the news business and the place where news people first practice the craft of reporting, research and writing skills while drilling deep into the criminal justice system.

J 321F Reporting on City and County Government

Like all politics, all news coverage is fundamentally local. You'll learn and apply basic beat reporting skills as you navigate city and county governments and report, research and write on issues and people at the local level.

J 322F Navigating State Government

The statehouse is the arena where journalists can observe and report on the political, social and economic forces that compete for power, resources and control. You will receive training and instruction in specialized reporting, research and writing skills applied to state governments, and do fieldwork at the Texas Capitol and state agencies.

J 323F Education Reporting

Education is at the heart of the American dream of social and economic mobility and a flashpoint in the struggle for political control. You will learn how to cover school districts and higher education and produce stories that humanize the bureaucracy of public education and compellingly depict issues, structures and policies.

J 324F Business and Financial Reporting

You will learn how to conceptualize, source and prepare news reports on global financial markets, commercial transactions and company performance. The course is global; the U.S. is a subset of material covered. This is a hands-on course during which you produce multiple news packages for publication.

J 325F Covering Politics

This course aims to provide the next generation of political reporters with specialized research, reporting and writing skills to cover issues, candidates and campaigns. It also explores the profound impact that the digital revolution and social media are having on election campaign coverage.

J 326F Topics in Texas Sports and Media

Sports is having a huge impact on our culture, economy, schools, health and aspirations. You will learn how to apply the basic skills and sensibility of journalism to the world of sports.

 

 

Category Two: Specialized Journalistic Skills

Here's where you learn to master journalistic tools that are sharper and more sophisticated but not necessarily connected to a specific topic. Categories include: computer-assisted reporting, investigative, advanced photojournalism, oral history as journalism, documentary storytelling (photo and video), long-form narrative, magazine writing and production, opinion writing, book writing, digital entrepreneurship, community journalism and the various specialized broadcast courses. Most of these are "meets with" courses open to both undergraduates and master's students.

J 330F Television Reporting and Producing

Basic television news gathering skills, including shooting and editing videotape, planning and executing visual storytelling, and writing and producing news packages. Students assist in the production of a television news program.

J 330G Creative Non-Fiction for Magazines and Books

Reporting and writing skills needed to produce narrative nonfiction and includes writing book proposals, magazine pitches and sample chapters.

J 331F Entrepreneurial Journalism

Focuses on creation of for-profit and nonprofit journalistic enterprises in the news media ecosystem. The class studies the impact of digital technology on the news industry, with emphasis on changes to business and distribution models, and ways people consume and produce news and information. Students dissect successful and unsuccessful digital initiatives. The class pursues projects and prototypes that include business plans and content planning.

J 332F News Editing for Online and Print

Advanced multimedia editing and production techniques. Emphasis on news judgment, language use, editing of textual elements, and use of digital software for print and Web publication of text, sound and visual imagery.

J 332G Explanatory Journalism: Storytelling in a Digital Age

Examination of the evolution of long-form explanatory storytelling from print and film to new forms of Web-based and interactive storytelling.

J 333F Data-Driven Reporting

Using electronic document retrieval and manipulation, spreadsheet and database management, and Internet skills. Includes collaborative work on major investigative projects.

J 333G Advanced Visual Journalism, Photo

Explores intensive photographic reportage and documentation using the camera as a tool of investigation and interaction. Emphasis on creation of photo stories, photo essays, and feature stories, with editing and page layout.

J 334F Oral History as Journalism

Instruction in the use of oral history to generate journalistic coverage. Modules include concepts and methods of gathering oral history; illustration of the techniques using the Vietnam War as a topic, and generating oral history-based coverage focusing on the Mexican-American experience.

J 334G Advanced Visual Journalism: Video

Explores intensive video reportage and documentation using the camera as a tool of investigation and interaction. Emphasis on creation of video news and feature stories.

J 335F Magazine Writing and Production

Instruction in and supervised practice of magazine writing and production. Lab includes production of a magazine online and in print.

J 335G Advanced Television Reporting Producing

Advanced writing and reporting skills for collaborative production of television news programs on deadline. Students assist in producing a television news program.

J 336F Social Media Journalism

The role of journalism in emerging digital social networks, examining current and traditional theories about social media as a form of journalism. Practice in the use live chatting, tagging, geotagging, wikis, Twitter, Flickr and digital avatars as newsgathering techniques.

J 336G Producing Social Documentaries for TV News

Instruction in the production of social documentaries for television, with emphasis on social issues often ignored by television news. Includes production of a 20-minute, long-form story.

J 337F Long-Form Feature Writing

Advanced instruction in reporting and writing long-form narratives, including lessons in analyzing story-telling tools, strategies and techniques. The course also explores the similarities and differences in narrative strategies and techniques across different media platforms.

J 337G Opinion Writing

This course explores the great American tradition of opinion writing and commentary in traditional print and evolving online formats.

J 338F Advanced Visual Design

Advanced exploration of principles and processes of visual design, including design principles, visual perception, typography, image making, uses of color, printing techniques, and publication design.

J 339F Investigative Reporting

Accountability journalism is the most important role of a free press in a democratic society, and investigative reporting is most aggressive and critical form of accountability journalism. This course focuses on determining what an investigative story is, finding those stories and developing strategies and tactics in pursuing them.

J 339T Web Design for Journalism

The Web is the most important publishing platform for multimedia content (i.e., text, hypertext, photos, audio and video) with interactive capabilities. An in-depth understanding of this platform and its applicability to various types of content and audiences is essential to any information workers (journalists included).

 
 

 

Category Three: Understanding and Reporting Social Issues

These are theme-oriented courses in a broad range of areas such as education, health, environment, sports, business, women and ethnic minorities, technology, business, politics, poverty, urban development, religion and international affairs. They provide you with historical context, depth and critical thinking as well as opportunities to do reporting and/or research. Some will be more scholarly, others more practical, depending upon the subject matter and the expertise of the teacher. 

J 340F Covering the Global Economy

Covering the Global Economy – Examines the enduring financial, economic and business issues journalists confront in covering the global economy.

J 340G Reporting Asia: A Foreign Correspondent's Framework

Dynamic ways of looking at, thinking about, and reporting the world. Establishing a framework for analyzing how the news media cover key events, issues and processes that shape our lives in a global society.

J 340J Documentary Tradition in Latin America

Contemporary social, professional and intellectual concerns with the practice of journalism. Study of still photographic and video documentary work by Latin Americans about Latin America. Production of photographic essays on Latin American culture.

J 341F Understanding African-Americans and the Media

Examination of documentaries and films, readings and discussions, writing and research assignments, and group projects to increase understanding of the historical context of African-Americans in American society. Focuses on evaluating media representation and coverage of African-Americans.

J 341G Reporting China: A Foreign Correspondent's Workshop

Contemporary social, professional and intellectual concerns with the practice of journalism. Taught in China as part of the university's Study Abroad program. Class meets approximately late May to late June. Offered in odd-numbered years.

J 341J Media and Minorities

Issues concerning minority or non-dominant groups within the United States. Survey of minority communication problems: alienation, fragmentation, media and Internet access; criticism and feedback for minority groups based on racial/ethnic background, age, sex, disability, social or economic class, and sexual orientation.

J 342F Women and the News

Exploration of women's relationships to news both historically and currently and examination of women's role in producing news and the construction of women within news texts.

J 342G Reporting the World, a Critical Examination of the U.S. News Media

Provides a dynamic way of looking at, thinking about, and reporting the world, both abroad and at home. Establishes a framework for analyzing how the news media cover key events, issues and processes that shape our lives in a global society.

J 343F Journalism and Religion

Critical examination of how religion traditionally has been covered in the United States and guidelines for developing individual thinking and reporting on religious issues.

J 343G Exploring Digital Media and Society

This course examines the connection between digital media and society at large with an emphasis on the Internet and mobile technologies. Combining both theoretical and skills components, the class will explore the implications of the use of technology and digital media in influencing our community, social relationships and the profession of journalism.

J 344F Reporting on Gender and Sexuality

Instruction on how to cover controversial issues around gender and sexuality, includes a review of the sociology of gender and sexuality, with a focus on political, economic and cultural implications.

J 344G Urban Journalism

Studies basic city functions and how to detect urban dysfunctions before crises become news. Coverage areas include infrastructure decay, traffic congestion, poverty and homelessness, digital divides, school dropouts, conflict and crime, riots and protests, obesity and disease, recreation, and pollution.

J 345F Social Issues Reporting

Coverage of social issues such as immigration, health care and child welfare. Examination of stereotypes, how they affect reporting and how they change as student reporters encounter new subjects.

J 345G Human Rights Journalism

An exploration of the role of journalists in exposing human rights abuses. Modules include case studies from El Salvador, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan, Israel and Russia, as well as the legal and moral obligations of journalists as witnesses to atrocities and genocide. Examination of the Bush administration's Global War on Terror and the legacy confronting the Obama presidency.

J 346F Reporting on the Environment

Instruction in and supervised fieldwork in environmental coverage. Topics include interviewing, understanding elements and structures of good environment writing, understanding the concepts of scientific certainty and uncertainty, and communicating complex science to lay audiences. Issues to be covered include climate change, energy, air and water quality, and sustainability.

J 346G Domestic Issues and Global Perspective

Comparative reporting and how to cover social issues from global and intercultural perspectives. Proper positioning of the U.S. globally in terms of recession, food, health care, education, energy consumption and climate change.

J 347F Reporting Latin America

Skills in foreign reporting and a better understanding of international news production processes, with special emphasis on Latin America.

J 347G Cultural Survey of Photography

Development of photojournalism and commercial, documentary, amateur, and art photography: historical processes, the evolution of stylistic trends, and the careers of major photographers.

J 348F Covering the Latino Community in the United States

Challenging current thinking and developing sophisticated, nuanced views of today's Latino community. Topics include a history of ethnic groups in the U.S. and their politics, education, organizations, immigration, culture, power and media. Students will apply what they learn to other underrepresented people in the U.S.

J 348G The Business of Sports Media

This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of how the business of sports media operates both as a business generating revenue and content and as a provider and disseminator of information and commentary. The course will be primarily lecture and discussion of key topics and issues involved with the business of sports media with various guest speakers from sports\media entities that have an impact in this area.

J 349F Reporting Public Health and Science

Specialty reporting to help news consumers understand complex health and medicine issues. Considers the lack of critical perspective, balanced reporting, and grasp of fundamental issues that afflict much health reporting. Focuses on the latest reporting techniques and narrative skills to illuminate an intellectually demanding field that also includes public health policy.

Pathway of Courses

Level 4 – Professional Principles (3 to 9 credits)

After drilling down deeply into various topics and skills in Level 3, Level 4 brings you back up to the surface and helps you climb the peaks to survey the profound role of journalism in society. There are four offerings, one of which (Media Law) is required. These courses may be completed in the second, third, or fourth year upon successful completion of Level 2 coursework.

J 350F Media Law

Lessons in legal rights and restrictions for online and print journalism, including Constitutional guarantees, libel, invasion of privacy, and contempt of court.

J 351F Journalism, Society and the Citizen Journalist

Contemporary social, professional and cultural concerns about journalism's role in society and the evolution of the citizen journalist.

J 352F Ethics in Journalism

In-depth examination of the ethical choices individual journalists face and the ethical implications of how news media operate in a larger social and political framework.

J 353F Historical Perspectives in Journalism

Evolution of journalism and mass media, including social, economic, and political factors that have contributed to changes in news gathering and distribution.

 

Pathway of Courses

Level 5 – Professional Practices (6 credits)

This final stage offers you the opportunity to produce high-impact journalism across multiple platforms. All students are required to take the capstone course in our new multimedia newsroom that will complete your digital portfolio and help prepare you for the challenges and opportunities of the professional world. You are also required either to undertake a professional internship or participate in Reporting Texas, the school's multimedia news website. These courses may be completed in the second, third, or fourth year upon successful completion of prerequisite coursework.

J360F Internship

Professional internships are a crucial experience for anyone seeking to enter and understand the fast-changing world of modern journalism. Internship to be arranged by student and approved by instructor. Offered on the pass/fail basis only. May be taken only once. Students must first complete both Level 2 courses with a B or higher.

J 160F Practicum

A second optional internship for those who have completed J 360F.

J 361F Reporting Texas

Can substitute for Internship. Students work as online reporters, photographers and editors for the School of Journalism's "Reporting Texas" news website, which presents news content across media platforms. You must complete six hours from Level 3 with a B or higher to qualify for this course.

J 362F Journalism Portfolio

A synthesis experience offering students the opportunity to polish their skills and showcasing reporting and production abilities across multiple journalistic platforms. As part of the course requirements, you will submit a professional, online portfolio. You must complete six hours from Level 3 with a B or higher to qualify for this course.

J 379 Journalism Independent Study

Restricted to journalism majors. Designed to give students the opportunity to pursue special studies for which separate courses have not been organized. The equivalent of nine laboratory hours a week. May be repeated for credit. Restricted to journalism majors. You must have completed the two courses at Level 2 with a B or higher to qualify.

 

Pathway of Courses