Communication/Journalism department provides hands-on experience

Deciding what you want to do with your life can be tough. There may be many things you are good at or that you love to do and just can’t decide which direction to take in college. Shippensburg University provides you with many routes on your journey through college to a dream career. What if you are an undeclared freshman or suddenly want to choose a different path in life and have the key in the ignition, but no roads are in sight? You have to start your own path. Perhaps that path is communication/journalism.

The communication/journalism department offers three main emphases for students to focus on – electronic media, print media and public relations. Each emphasis provides core classes for students, as well as electives related to what the student decides to focus on.

The electronic media program in the department provides students with hands-on, professionally-based coursework and training. Some of the classes offered in the emphasis include electronic media programming and management, electronic field production and television studio production. Each of these classes offers state-of-the-art hard and software for students to gain experience. Students can pursue many careers in the electronic media field, such as news anchor, disc jockey, TV reporter and video programmer.

Professor Ted Carlin, WSYC-FM adviser, teaches many electronic media classes in the department. He believes that the hard and software available to students in the classroom can create engaging audio and video content for radio, television and online platforms.

“Co-curricular experiences with WSYC, SUTV and other student media groups accentuate the program and allow students to produce professional content on a daily basis, while working towards junior and senior internships off-campus at regional and national media companies,” Carlin said.

WSYC (We Serve Your Community) is the university’s student-funded and run radio station that plays music, as well as sports and news casts. Members of this organization can be a DJ, sports broadcaster, or a board operator among numerous other positions. SUTV consists of a news, entertainment and sports department. Members of the organization can gain experience in producing, editing, television photography and studio operation from an organization that won a regional Emmy in 2012 and was nominated for the College Radio Award.

In the print media program, students are encouraged to improve their writing skills and pursue their desire to write. Students are prepared for careers in newspapers, magazines, freelancing, multimedia journalism and editing. Classes offered in this emphasis include feature writing, public affairs reporting, magazine design and digital journalism. In this field, you may want to pursue a career as a newspaper or magazine editor, freelance writer, investigative journalist, or a page designer.

As the university’s newspaper, The Slate offers opportunities related to all three emphases to students. Staff positions available include editor-in-chief, advertising director, multimedia director, public relations director, graphic designer and editors for each section of the newspaper. If you aren’t looking for a staff position, you can also choose to write for any of the sections, weekly.
The Cumberland Yearbook is another student media group aimed at students in this elective, where students focus on cover design, theme development, layout design, as well as writing and photography. In 2007, the Cumberland Yearbook won the Yearbook Award of Excellence, which is given each year to five percent of yearbooks, nationwide.

The third and final emphasis in the journalism department is public relations. This is the emphasis where most people ask “What in the world is public relations? What do you do?” The definition of public relations is “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.” Overall, the main goal of a public relations specialist is to make a company or person look good and create more awareness of them. Other career options in this emphasis include graphic design, advertising, media relations and public affairs. Classes offered include promotional publication design, advertising copywriting, media advertising and sales, as well as public relations research and campaigns.

Professor Holly Ott, Interim Internship Adviser of the department, believes that the public relations program prepares students for careers in media relations, public affairs and digital communications.

“The program offers a blend of theory, research and practice,” Ott said. “We also have a strong student-media group, PRSSA [Public Relations Student Society of America], where students can gain experience with real clients in the business world. Students also have great opportunities for internships in public relations.”

The public relation program’s main student media group is PRSSA, which focuses on serving the university, as well as businesses and non-profit organizations in the community. They aim to assist students in understanding procedures of the profession and create awareness of an appropriate professional attitude.

In order to bring students across the different emphases together, the department has several social gatherings throughout the year, such as the ice cream social earlier this month, which allowed students to meet their advisors and other professors in the department. Communication/Journalism Day is also another event during the year that brings the department together to feature the different student media groups.

If you are looking for any other reasons to join the communication/journalism department, the program is strongly student-focused and nationally accredited. It features an accomplished faculty, strong research agendas and professional experience, as well as unique internship opportunities that are afforded through strong relationships with employers. According to Ott, the department offers “big school” experiences at an affordable cost.

“Our program is the only nationally accredited journalism and public relations program in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE),” Ott said. “Students in our program have found the faculty to be very committed to student success. Also, since our program places great emphasis on practical application and experiential learning, many of our students enter the workforce feeling very prepared and well-versed in the understanding of the craft of journalism and public relations.”

Overall, the communication/journalism department prepares students for their career and what the world has to offer after college. The courses offered and student media groups available provide sincere hands-on experience to students so they are ready for what’s in store in the real world. With the amazing professors assisting students, as well, students are sure to have a fun, educational and unique experience they couldn’t find anywhere. If the journalism program appeals to you, it’s never too late to join and start your new path to that dream career.

_For more information about the communication/journalism department, visit Rowland Hall, Room 108, or email _

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