‘I have been frustrated at the journalism school for being slow to adapt to the new media realities.
Academia is a steamship and not easily swerving. But it is making progress.’
senior and editor of The Daily Tar Heel
Media Law and Policy and created offerings
such as a joint law and master’s degree and
an interdisciplinary health communication
program. By fall 2010, students will be able
to major in business journalism, an effort by
the journalism and business schools.
The Center for Media Law and Policy, a
program between the schools of journalism
and law, enables students and faculty to
interact with lawmakers, lawyers and journalists, while the joint law and master’s
degree program prepares students to practice mass communication law or strategic
communication, among other fields.
The school also has initiated a First-Year
Fast Track Program in which admissions
officers, faculty and staff invited 20 freshmen
with high school journalism experience and
high academic credentials to enroll in a special section of the news writing course this
fall and in a seminar in the spring that
focuses on news and civic engagement. If
they maintain their grades, they will be
admitted to the journalism school.
That’s far earlier than under the traditional route, where students inform the J-school at the end of their third semester of
their intention to major in journalism.
There is not a formal entrance process, but
students need to maintain a 2. 9 GPA to
stay in the school.
The new curriculum is in part the product of input from alumni. Folkerts traveled
the state visiting people who work at newspapers, online services, TV and radio stations,
public relations and advertising agencies,
nonprofits and government organizations.
One result: The school will emphasize
reporting and writing with the Web as the
target medium — not so much the printed
page. The idea is to cultivate writing and
editing skills that play to the new technology, including smart phones.
There are indications that the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication will press schools to
add multimedia skills to their curricula.
“I have been frustrated at the journalism
school for being slow to adapt to the new
media realities,” Andrew Dunn, a senior who
is this year’s editor of The Daily Tar Heel,
COURTESY OF THE DAILY TAR HEEL
DAN SEARS ’ 74
wrote in an e-mail this summer. “Academia
is a steamship and not easily swerving. But it
is making progress. I think classes like those
taught by Ryan Thornburg and Penny Abernathy should be required for all journalism
students, and perhaps one day they will.
“Right now, the core journalism curriculum is not preparing students for the
Senior Andrew Dunn, top, current Daily Tar
Heel editor, recognized that the old curriculum
wasn’t preparing journalism students for the
new realities of the business.
Ryan Thornburg ’ 97 has joined the faculty to
teach online writing — and online thinking.