Writing degree to start journalism track

Writing degree to start journalism track

Next semester, the St. Edward’s University’s English Writing and Rhetoric, ENGW,  department is preparing to adopt a journalism, JOUR,  specialization within the major.

Jena Heath, assistant professor of English Writing and Rhetoric-Journalism, had idea to develop the new specialization. The specialization will focus on journalistic writing. Its courses will be adapted from the current journalism minor.

Heath, who earned her Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, has worked in the field for over 20 years and is currently the adviser to Hilltop Views.

Earlier this semester, Heath and a professor of English Writing and Rhetoric,  Mary Rist, drafted a proposal for the new JOUR specialization. The proposal was accepted by the academic advisors soon after.

Although a journalism minor has existed at St. Edward’s for six years, Heath believed a journalism specialization in the ENGW major would be an important addition to the department. With the journalism minor, courses began to overlap with those in the ENGW major, resulting in the challenge of creating course substitutions.

“With the new journalism specialization, students can have the JOUR specialization with the ENGW major and still minor in an area they may want to write about in the future,” Rist said.

The new journalism specialization would give students the chance to learn and develop their journalistic skills, according to Heath.

“I wanted ENGW students to have an opportunity to specialize in journalism that didn’t put them in the position to have to choose between journalism or their major,” Heath said.

Although the creation of a new journalism specialization was intended for ENGW majors interested in journalism, Heath said journalsim minor is a great complement to any number of majors.

“This is a wonderful minor for anyone from a political science major to an education major to a religion major. There are a lot of different ways to specialize in journalism,” said Heath.

Heath contends that understanding journalistic writing is an important quality for any students interested in working with any form of media. 

“The new specialization would endeavor to not only teach students about ethics and specifics involved with journalism, but also how to write a clear, comprehensive piece,” said Heath.

The new journalism specialization will emphasize more than just the interview process or concise sentence construction. It will prepare students for the real-world concerns of potential employers, like AP style, Rist said.

Associated Press, AP, style refers to the Associated Press Stylebook, which is the writing style and usage guide developed by Associated Press editors. It is used by many news outlets. 

“Lots of the internship supervisors I have worked with for professional writing internships want interns to know AP style since that is the style that many organizations use for their in-house communication, for their web content and for their publications,” said Rist.

According to Heath, the new journalism specialization will strive to connect students with the world around them. With St. Edward’s becoming a more globally connected university, she hopes students will learn to further explore and understand their world.

“St. Edward’s is a global institution. What’s more global than journalism? You’ll become a better citizen if you know what’s going on in your world,” said Heath.

Brooke Lewis, junior and ENGW major, intends to switch her specialization to journalism in the fall. She believes journalistic writing is an effective tool in her academic career.

“Journalism basically prepares you for any type of writing out there. I know I have become a better writer in all areas because of it,” said Lewis.

With the ENGW department’s new journalism specialization, Heath hopes students  will become better readers and consumers of journalism. Heath also had a response for anyone who believes journalism is a dying institution.

“Tell that to people all across the Arab world, who have just undergone societal transformations thanks to citizen journalism. Journalism is changing, it is far from dead.”