Communication Department plans to roll out new emphases next year – By Caleb Chandler

The Communication Department of The Master’s College will be getting an upgrade next fall semester. Pending approval from the school’s Academic Affairs Council, students will be able to choose from a variety of new emphases within the program including creative writing and journalism, which will replace the broader print media emphasis.

While the spoken communication emphasis will remain untouched, this year’s reexamination of the major has led to specialization and updating of what is now the electronic media and print media branches of the major which will include altering old courses and the addition of new ones.

Starting next academic year, Department Chair and Professor Bob Dickson plans to offer creative writing students genre specific fiction workshops which would be able to be taken twice for credit. Rather than the traditional classroom format, these courses would be taken by students individually, creating a custom experience for each student. This will be replacing the more generic Novel Writing directed study as well as the Science Fiction Writing course.

Creative writing students will also learn the ropes of publishing in a market shifting away from print. Courses in graphic design and web publishing, formerly under the electronic media emphasis, will be available to this emphasis as the department evolves to match the increasing overlap of all media.

The journalism emphasis will also be overhauled to reflect advances in technology, with other electronic media courses finding a new home.

“The vision for the journalism [program]… and really the vision for the entire major is we want these emphases to be working together,” Dickson says. “They’re separate fields of study but there’s so much overlap… I want these things to be hand-in-hand.”

In addition to the journalism courses currently offered, such as Article Writing, the new emphasis will also feature classes that will teach students how to handle elements of broadcast journalism, including recording video interviews and reporting live in front of a camera.

Though many of its classes will be moved, the electronic media emphasis will not disappear. Video Production is the tentative new title for the largest portion of Electronic Media – film.

The scope of the video production emphasis will now expand beyond movies to encompass a variety of forms.

“I think electronic media should be more than just film,” Dickson says. “I think film is good… But I think electronic media can have a commercial video production component as well. Because someone may not want to be a film director. He or she may want to work for organizations that produce videos for their businesses – whether that’s marketing or it’s informative…”

In addition to these changes, the film courses will also be transformed. Students who take the directing classes in future will have a different experience than their predecessors. Starting next semester, those in Directing II will not all direct their own films as before. Rather than making a handful of amateur productions individually, students will work together to make a film worth showing employers. The best idea pitched will be chosen by the teacher and department chair.

“The thing I’m most excited about is the idea that they get to work with professionals,” says Matt Green, who started teaching within the department in the fall. “So it’s not that they’re just having to go and make their own stuff and hopefully it comes out okay… They get to be creative and, if you’re taking the directing class, you get to be creative and come up with a concept that then is not completely upon yourself to do everything.”

Students have already benefited as producer John Sullivan and writer/director Chris Dowling have been brought in on separate occasions to give seminars in the fall semester. Sullivan, who helped produce Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary “2016” as well as “Expelled,” gave insight into distribution and marketing while Dowling, creator of upcoming film “Produce: Where Hope Grows” spoke on directing and producing.

“That’s how you move in this industry is you network,” Green says.

Both Dickson and Green emphasize that these and the many other alterations are being made with the future careers of the Communication students in mind.

“…It’s not about the piece of paper,” Dickson says. “Can you do the job?”

By Caleb Chandler

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