Comm. School prepares graduates for financially-uncertain futures

With 15 percent of journalists losing their jobs in 2008, colleges and universities across the nation have been left scrambling to figure out the best way to prepare their students for the new demands in the workforce.

“We don’t need to talk about print and broadcast journalists anymore, we just need to talk about journalists” said Tsitsi Wakhisi, an associate professor in  at University of Miami School of Communication.

In light of the fact that many people are getting their news from sources other than newspapers, Wakhisi believes that teaching new media, broadcast, print, and multimedia should all be included in one program since the job market now requires all of those skills.

Currently, UM’s undergraduate program offers both a print and broadcast journalism major. However, each major gives a student an opportunity to select nine electives in the field so they can build their own track and get a well-rounded curriculum.

While many schools have decided to combine the broadcast and print journalism majors into one, UM has not yet followed suit.

“We’re introducing photo, audio, video and web content management skills earlier in our curriculum and developing senior-level courses, such as In-depth Reporting & Convergence, in an attempt to bring all the core functions of journalism together to develop content for an array of media platforms,” Sig Splichal, the director of the Journalism Program, said.

Austen Gregorson, a sophomore print journalism major remains confident in his track.

“Print journalism skills still apply, there will just be a focus of online and multimedia news.”  he said.

The graduate journalism program at UM is facing many of the same issues as the undergraduate program in regards to how to prepare students for the real world.  Mike North, a 23-year-old print journalism graduate school alumni is experiencing many of the well documented hardships first hand.

“I am unemployed but have found internships, but most have been unpaid,” explained North.  His most recent internship was with the Miami New Times.

Despite North’s common struggles, he still believes that UM has prepared him well.

“I believe the program has made me more marketable for jobs in print and broadcast since we have learned a basic skill set for each,” he said.