Weather Forecast


UMD adds journalism, professional writing degree

A writing studies major for the University of Minnesota Duluth was approved Friday by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

The major has two tracks, journalism and professional writing, which have long been sought by UMD students. The offering has been tailored to fit the changing landscape of media, said John Hatcher, an assistant professor in the writing studies department.

"We need to make sure these students go out the door with all kinds of skills," he said. "It's ultimately about storytelling, but we need to tell these stories with lots of different mediums."

UMD offers a minor in journalism, which Hatcher said included enough credits to almost be classified as a major. The new major will be small enough to allow students to couple it with other majors if they choose, in light of the competitive job market.

Students will work with media outlets throughout the area and with KUMD, the on-campus radio station.

"We think it will be very popular," said Jill Jenson, head of the writing studies department. "We're really looking forward to reaching out to the community."

The major will be offered in fall 2009. No new faculty will be hired for the department. Jenson said the curriculum has been redesigned so there is no impact on the department's budget.

On the professional writing track, students will take courses on technical and scientific writing. For journalism, courses on Web design, video production and writing for online media will be included along with the fundamentals of journalism.

Journalism students traditionally have decided they want to write for print or work in broadcast, for example, Hatcher said, "but we now know those lines are so blurry, it's just not realistic. If you're leaving without the ability to shoot video, edit it and put it up on the Web, it's not going to be enough."

He said that applies to all forms of journalism, including public relations. Hatcher and Jenson said it's still a good time to become a journalist, as long as students are prepared to meet the changes.

"The role of a journalist is very much in flux," Hatcher said. "But the program is thoughtful and flexible enough to react to those changes."

r Also approved was a change to the women's studies major offered at UMD. It has been restructured to eliminate the tracks of transnational feminism, liberal arts and applied feminism. Those tracks can still be studied, said Laura Stolle Schmidt, a staff member in the women's studies program, but it won't appear as an emphasis on a student's transcript. No changes to staffing were made. She said the restructuring was in response to alumni and student evaluations