The media industry is no longer siphoned into three segments; the lines between marketing, advertising and journalism are increasingly blurred. We on the Editorial Board believe that the journalism and communication departments at Wake Forest are underserved and outdated.
Students interested in pursuing a career in the media industry need an education that reflects this integrated media landscape. It doesn’t make sense that marketing classes are sequestered into the business school such that students would have to pass Accounting 101 in order to enroll. All students — not just journalism students — would benefit greatly from marketing classes that give them a better understanding of how to manage brands, analyze audiences and deal with the business side of journalism.
The journalism department also needs more classes that focus on new media. The department does have an introductory digital media class, and it does build a strong foundation for video, audio and photo editing, as well as building an online portfolio using WordPress. But there are few other classes that aid students in branching out beyond that foundation. There is also a broadcast journalism class in the communication department taught by local news anchor Melissa Painter, but it has become so popular that it is often incredibly difficult to get into.
Our current journalism department has a heavy emphasis on writing and AP Style, which is the almost universally accepted stylebook for the journalism field. While this is important because writing is paramount in the media industry, students still need more coverage of the digital landscape.
We need classes that teach us best web practices: how to write for the web and how to take advantage of SEO, tagging, meta-data and everything that goes on in the backend of a website. We need classes that teach us how to activate content and promote events or organizations using social media. We need classes that teach us how to build our own personal online brand using social media platforms and content management systems. These are real, paying jobs that are great options for journalism and communication students, but the classes offered here don’t reflect this landscape.
Furthermore, the OPCD needs to provide more resources specifically for students interested in entering the media industry. When media companies are hiring interns or new employees, they fully expect applicants to have an extensive online portfolio that features their best work samples. The OPCD does a great job of providing help with résumés and LinkedIn profiles, but there is one more step for students entering the media industry, and there are no resources outside of a few professors who could help them with that.
Of course, there is graduate school for a reason. Undergraduate is not meant to teach us everything that we’re supposed to know about a given field — especially not at a liberal arts school.
But after paying upwards of $60,000 to attend Wake Forest, we believe that the communication and journalism departments deserve more attention from the administration. These departments must modernize their curricula to help students more effectively enter the media industry.