A maybe makeover for Ryerson’s journalism program in 2015

(Matt Oxman/ Ryersonian staff)

(Matt Oxman/ Ryersonian staff)

Ryerson’s bachelor of journalism program may have a new look in 2015.

If the journalism school council approves a proposed new curriculum next week, incoming changes like more multimedia training in first and second year and new courses for fourth-year students will better prepare students for the needs of the changing industry.

According to Gerd Hauck, dean of the faculty of communication and design, a new curriculum is overdue since the current one was implemented in 2007.

“Programs go through an external review every seven to eight years, and in eight years so much happens, not only in journalism but in (other FCAD faculties) like fashion or theatre,” Hauck said. “Things change and if you (don’t adapt), you’d be a dinosaur.”

Hauck said one reason for the curriculum change is that the number of journalism applicants has decreased.

Concordia University’s journalism program saw a 39 per cent drop in applicants since 2010, and Hauck says Ryerson’s numbers aren’t far behind.

He says the new curriculum will help students find a place in the industry.

“The new curriculum is designed in such a way that it is more nimble to adapt to the changing field,” Hauck said. “The discipline is in transition, and people are reluctant to engage until they know where journalism will land.”

Kamal Al-Solaylee, undergraduate program director and journalism professor, said the new curriculum will blur the boundaries between print, online and broadcast — a common direction of the industry.

“There is no such thing as just a print reporter,” Al-Solaylee said. “There is nobody that can say that anymore.”
Al-Solaylee said the proposed curriculum will teach first- and second-year students news judgment, reporting, writing and editing on multiple platforms. They will learn to build these skills, he said, within the final two years of the program.

An advanced version of the existing freelance course would encourage students to self-promote, using Twitter to drive traffic to their blogs. A new course, titled “Journalism Laboratory,” would also allow students to work with the faculty of computer science.

“The goal of this course is to have some collaboration with students in our school and computer science to actually create solutions,” said Al-Solaylee.

“We’re not just waiting for what the industry is doing and responding, we’re telling the industry, ‘Here’s a new way of doing things.’”

Aaron Navarro, a third-year journalism student, said he wishes these courses were available during his time at Ryerson.

“I definitely think in this day and age, especially with jobs being so scarce, that if you can build your brand it’s so much more beneficial to you,” he said. “I think if you learn that in school before you head off into the field, that’s just a bonus.”

The program committee used feedback from both students and faculty to make the proposed curriculum.
The school of journalism’s council will review the proposed curriculum on April 7.

If approved, students who are in second to fourth year of the program will continue using current curriculum.

The class of 2019 will be the first to graduate under the new curriculum.

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