«Concordia University Faculty of Arts & Science Department of Journalism Diploma in Visual Journalism Program Proposal February 27, 2014 Table of ...»
3.1 Socio-economic or cultural relevance The development of a graduate Diploma in Visual Journalism can be seen as a response to the increasing demands of media convergence. Historically, once newspapers had the technical capability to produce photographs in their pages, they realized these images often increased their circulation. In modern newsrooms, however, the role of the photographer became distinct from that of the reporter, even in television newsrooms across the country. However, as technology improved, the demands on the reporter and photographer increased. Reporters are now required to shoot their own photographs or video, and photographers, both still and video, must provide greater text as well as visual elements.
With the explosion of online news media sites, newspapers and broadcast operations have expanded their need for photo/video journalism for online editions, complementing news text with slide and sound shows or mini-documentaries. Today’s newspapers include still slide shows or video packages to supplement their important online stories. The Globe and Mail, for example, ran the on-line series “Talking to the Taliban” that provided the reader with the reporter’s videotaped interviews of Taliban fighters. In today’s news media environment, the journalist no longer produces a story for a single media platform, and media convergence with its emphasis on the visual story-telling elements is simply a matter of course.
Diploma in Visual Journalism, February 27, 2014 10 15 The Department of Journalism has always been committed to the task of preparing students to be versatile and conversant with various media platforms and story presentation forms. Thus, the proposed program is consistent with that history and fills a void in university-level journalism education in Canada.
The Department recently surveyed current and past undergraduates and diploma students about their interest in the program (see Appendix IV). These results, along with repeated queries every year since the proposal first went forward, indicate a strong interest in a visual journalism graduate diploma program. Two other indicators also suggest high student interest. The current Graduate Diploma in Journalism, which has attracted between 80 and 100 applications each year, remains popular, indicating consistent interest in the department’s graduate-level journalism program. The second indicator is the popularity of our current undergraduate and Graduate Diploma courses that emphasize visual journalism. These courses are always fully subscribed, with waiting lists that include a number of international and other non-program students. The department caps these courses at 20 because of a limited available number of digital cameras. (The increase in our stock of cameras is part of our pending teaching equipment request.)
Projected Student enrollment:
3.2 Systemic relevance The proposed program will be the first of its kind at the university level in Canada. There are no comparable courses or programs at Concordia University. The Studio Arts program in the Faculty of Fine Arts offers a BFA Major in Photography and an undergraduate Minor in Photography, as well as an MA in Fine Arts with a concentration in Photography. These programs are devoted to photography
Concordia is one of a dozen university-level journalism programs in Canada but will be the first to offer a degree in Visual Journalism. Langara College in British Columbia, for example, offers a continuing education program but does not offer a degree. In Ontario, Conestoga College has a sports photography and videography diploma but not within the context of a journalism program. The sole post-secondary program available in Canada is offered at the community-college level at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario. At the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, students may specialize in photojournalism within their graduate diploma program. In the United States, there are four-year undergraduate and two-year MA programs in Visual Journalism available – e.g., University of Missouri, University of Montana, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Ohio University.
3.3 Institutional relevance 3.3.1 Status of the discipline at Concordia The Department of Journalism’s current mission statement defines journalism as a public service and describes its undergraduate and graduate diploma curricula as “designed to help students become the intelligent and versatile journalists upon whom society depends for the exercise of its democratic functions.” The evolution of journalism across many media platforms – print, radio, television, and online – has prompted the department to adapt its curriculum to remain current and relevant as an applied program. The undergraduate program began in 1975 as a minor in print journalism with students working on typewriters and has since become a stand-alone department with a major and two specialization programs at the undergraduate level, a graduate Diploma in Journalism, and a researchoriented MA in Journalism Studies, introduced in September 2009 (see Appendix III). Our applied programs have been revised every few years to keep pace with both technological and narrative changes in journalism practice. Most recently, a completely revised undergraduate curriculum began in the fall of 2011, giving these students exposure to all platforms of journalistic story-telling: print, radio, television and multi-platform journalism.
The strength of the Department of Journalism over the past thirty years has been its professional formation at the undergraduate and graduate Diploma levels, teaching industry-standard production skills within a theoretical, historical and ethical framework. The department currently offers: a oneDiploma in Visual Journalism, February 27, 2014 12 17 year graduate diploma (26 students admitted this year) and an undergraduate program (69 students admitted this year) with three options: a 72-credit specialization; a 60-credit Journalism specialization;
and a 45-credit major (with text and audio-visual options). Our graduates are working in every medium across Canada and throughout the world.
In the revised undergraduate curriculum, visual journalism has gained greater prominence, but it remains under-represented in journalism schools across Canada. As for Photojournalism, it began as a slot course and has become a permanent elective in our existing graduate Diploma program, and is a required, second-year course in our undergraduate programs. Currently, the department offers three required undergraduate photojournalism courses (JOUR366) and one photojournalism elective for the current diploma program (JOUR566). Because these courses are always fully subscribed, they generate waiting lists comprised of program and non-program students every year. This further indicates students’ interest in visual journalism and their recognition of its increasing importance. The proposed graduate Diploma in Visual Journalism will allow the department to train students in a particular and increasingly important branch of journalism.
The existing graduate Diploma is a generalist program, introducing students to all aspects of the practice of journalism: print, radio, television and online. Whereas the current Diploma program offers one elective course in photojournalism in students’ final semester, the proposed Diploma in Visual Journalism adopts a specialist approach in that it privileges story-telling in the form of still photography and moving images, supported by text and audio.
3.3.2 Collaboration with other departments and universities
The Department of Journalism has, in the past, maintained collaborative ties with the Department of Communication Studies through the undergraduate BA Joint Specialization in Communication Studies and Journalism and through the annual Rogers Sportsnet Sports Journalism Workshop (both have been phased out). Further collaboration has continued with the MA in Journalism Studies where graduate students are working with faculty members from other disciplines who serve as external thesis committee members and provide their insight and expertise as students complete their theses. As the department continues to develop its research profile, further collaboration with our faculty colleagues elsewhere in the university is ongoing (already, Dr. Mike Gasher and Dr. Lisa Lynch of Journalism are collaborating with Dr. Greg Nielsen of Sociology and Anthropology, and Dr. David Secko of Diploma in Visual Journalism, February 27, 2014 13 18 Journalism is part of an interdisciplinary and externally-funded research team led by Dr. Adrian Tsang of Biology. Professor Linda Kay of Journalism has collaborated on funded research with Dr. Rosemary Reilly of the Department of Applied Human Sciences).
3.3.3 Current standing of the department and the discipline in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Concordia has offered an undergraduate BA Major in Journalism since 1980 and a graduate Diploma in Journalism since 1987. As stated above, the department introduced a research-oriented MA in Journalism Studies in 2009. The establishment of the proposed graduate Diploma in Visual Journalism in a university and a department with a long and distinguished track record in journalism education, located in the media centre of Montreal is an important academic endeavor with immediate and significant advantages. Its faculty members have considerable experience in teaching journalism – across both the applied and theoretical dimensions – and the department has established itself within Canada as a premier journalism school. All full-time faculty members have professional journalism experience and most part-time instructors are drawn from industry ranks. The curriculum is grounded in real-world newsroom experience, and the department keeps close ties with news organizations that provide the student with internships and entry-level employment upon graduation. All of our full-time faculty members are engaged in research and provide instruction that is informed by current critical media research.
Concordia University has for nearly forty years provided a solid formation for students who aspire to a career in journalism. The curriculum combines practical workshop courses with more academic courses in areas such as journalism history, media law and ethics and critical approaches to journalism.
Workshop courses have small class sizes (capped at 24) to provide students with close, hands-on instruction in fundamental journalism skills. In these courses, students are given deadline and “live” assignments – i.e., assignments based on real news events in and around Montreal – and are held to industry standards. The lecture and seminar courses thereby situate journalistic practice within a theoretical framework drawing upon history, sociology, political theory, ethics, communication and media studies. If journalism, like every practice, is informed by theoretical tenets, underlying its practice, then the students come to understand that practice and to evaluate critically the news environment and industry.
The department arranges internships with news organizations for students in both the undergraduate Diploma in Visual Journalism, February 27, 2014 14 19 and graduate Diploma programs. Therefore, it is anticipated that the department will use its significant professional contacts to establish internship opportunities for students in the Visual Journalism program, giving them critical professional experience and exposure to print, radio, television, and online news media. While internships are not required to complete the degree, these opportunities provide students with invaluable newsroom experience and the opportunity to make important professional contacts, helping ensure employment after graduation. Our location in Montreal is in itself an attraction for students because the city is a media centre; not only is it the principal media centre for French Canada (e.g., five daily newspapers, including Metro and 24 Heures, Radio Canada, TVA, CKAC), but remains an important centre for English-language media as well (e.g., The Gazette, CBC Montreal, CTV Montreal, Reader’s Digest Canada, Maisonneuve magazine, CJAD, numerous community newspapers, etc.). This allows the department to draw part-time instructors and guest speakers from these newsrooms.
In addition, undergraduate students are encouraged to take advantage of international exchange opportunities, organized through Concordia International. At the diploma level, the department offers an annual $20,000 development journalism scholarship for diploma students, sponsored by IDRC. This award will be open to students in the Visual Journalism program as well. (In the past, IDRC winners have worked in Cambodia, Algeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Madagascar.) Equipment-wise, the department has two dedicated computer labs; a radio newsroom with adjoining studio and editing suites; a television studio with adjoining control room, a video editing lab and individual editing suites. Through the equipment depot, shared with the Department of Communication Studies, students have access to digital sound recorders, still and video cameras, and portable lighting kits.
4.1 Admission requirements The normal admission requirement for admission into the graduate Diploma is an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.3 scale. Some experience in journalism, photojournalism or a media-related field is considered an asset. Applicants should understand that admission is contingent upon a sound undergraduate academic record, strong letters of recommendation, and a convincing letter of intent, which clearly describes their interest in the program. Students should be aware that course instruction and assignments will be in English, and although it will not determine acceptance, applicants are advised that a working knowledge of French is important.
In summary, the admission requirements are:
three letters of reference (at least two from academic sources).
In addition, applicants with previous journalism or visual journalism experience may submit a portfolio of their work, but this is not required. Candidates may be invited for an interview by the admissions committee.
Students in the program are strongly urged to provide their own cameras, according to minimal specifications determined by the department. Students are asked to contact the department for details.