Americans have more choices than ever in terms of how we locate, consume, and share news and information. And the number of adults who do so online continues to grow, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report.
- 85 percent of adults report getting news on a mobile device, up from 72 percent in 2016.
- Nearly 65 percent of adults who get news on both desktop/laptop computers and mobile devices prefer mobile, up from 56 percent in 2016.
- For the first time in Pew surveys, more than half (55 percent) of Americans aged 50+ report getting news on social media sites.
That's why the Department of Communication keeps pace with changing technologies, educational trends, and employment demand, explains Dr. George LaMaster, chair of the growing department.
Four new concentrations available in 2019
Toward that end, Marian freshmen majoring in communication can choose four new concentrations starting next year:
- Concentration in digital media
- Concentration in multimedia journalism
- Concentration in public relations
- Concentration in speech performance
"Our goal is to prepare graduates for their first jobs after college. But we also want to teach them to be intellectually curious, creative, and critical thinkers for the rest of their lives," says LaMaster.
Graduates working in fast-paced fields like communication will continuously adopt and adapt to new, evolving technologies in the years ahead, he says. This includes those working in social media management, web management, corporate communications, content marketing, public and media relations, journalism, digital marketing and advertising, and related fields.
LaMaster notes his department is searching for a full-time faculty member to serve as director of student media and teach courses in new media and digital journalism, also starting with the 2019 year.
Hands-on learning is key
Communication faculty are focused on providing high-impact teaching and learning opportunities for students to guarantee they have a range of real-world experience before completing their degrees, according to LaMaster.
Next year, that will also include required internships and a community engaged learning (service learning) course for communication majors.
"Although 75 percent of our students were already completing an internship before graduation, it's such an important experience that we've made it a requirement. In fact, many communication students already complete two or more internships. We encourage students to start thinking about them beginning in their freshman year," LaMaster says.
Other hands-on learning opportunities are available. Student interest in podcasting, making videos, and digital media, for example, is what led to the creation of MU Knightwatch last semester.
The site is by and for Marian students learning to report and share news, information, opinions, ideas, art, music and movie reviews, and humor in a range of digital formats. MU Knightwatch aims to educate and entertain. Two recent posts include an opinion piece on the life of Senator John McCain and a story about a flat tire.