Final drafts for MCMA overhaul near completion

By Gus Bode

Factoid:Proposals can be viewed at

The last two curriculum drafts for the news and media analysis groups are almost finished and will be posted online this week, bringing the curriculum overhaul of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts one step closer to completion. Nonetheless, it may be as long as two years before these changes affect students.

The news, media analysis, media industries and media arts practice groups were developed in September to revise the college’s 40-year-old curriculum. While the proposals were due in November, the extension allowed for the groups to make better decisions, said Gary Kolb, associate dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.


Two of the proposals were posted online in late January but leaders say they have received limited feedback.

“People are looking and discussing,” said Scott Hodgson, associate radio-television professor. “It’s been more positive, but there are still certain parts they are concerned with. It’s not fully developed yet.”

Early in the reform process, MCMA students petitioned to have representatives added to the groups to provide extra insight to the changes. Since September, radio-television students have had extra meetings to express concerns about the college fulfilling its promise to involve students.

Before developing the individual drafts, the groups decided to require a writing course and developed new courses to replace the current required classes MCMA 201 and 202.

Walter Jaehnig, director of the School of Journalism, said a new news research course would require students to learn how to find documents and other valuable items, a knowledge that will be a necessity in a job in the media.

“It makes so much sense,” said Jaehnig. “This is the direction we want to go.”

The group also recommended a mandatory writing test to be admitted into the college.


Requiring a foreign language and a minimum grade point average above 2.0, which is the University’s average to be considered in good standing, was considered, but no decision was reached.

The news group hopes to revise the draft to include the small changes and also address the recommendations, and Jaehnig said he wants to have it posted online this week.

While changes in the news, media industries and media arts practice groups deal with more hands-on experience, the media analysis group’s draft focuses more on theories of the media. The classes will provide a more general approach rather than hands-on experience, said Tom Johnson, director of graduate studies.

The media analysis group’s curriculum proposal consists not only of the classes, but a brief description of what each will be like, a direction taken previously by the media arts practice group but none of the others.

While the other groups have had an outrage of concern in the past, Johnson said students have not been extremely worried about the outcome of the media analysis curriculum.

“It’s a less vocal group,” Johnson said. “There is no student constituency that is worried that they’re going to lose what they have because of this.”

Johnson said he wanted to develop a program that would allow for students to be lenient with their electives, but he also wanted to make sure the students learned the processes behind how the media industry works.

“The idea was that there was a requirement, but to give them a lot of electives to kind of choose what area they’d like to specialize in,” Johnson said. “We tried to make it as broad as possible in terms of electives.”

Kolb said the leaders of the four groups would meet soon to start developing the core courses throughout the college.

He said he hopes the college can vote to approve the curriculum proposals by the end of the spring 2004 semester after getting the proposals revised and finalized. He said that after the classes are developed and approved, the college could begin implementing the core classes for new students.

“It’ll be a learning experience for us in developing this new curriculum,” Kolb said. “If we can get an agreement, that would be a huge step forward.”

Reporter Julie Engler can be reached at [email protected]