Journalism Department: Strategic Plan (2018-2023)
The journalism department is committed to preparing its students for professional engagement or graduate education in line with its mission which aims:
To educate students to think and act as responsible professionals and ethical citizens in a global community; to help students develop competencies necessary to prepare them for professional employment or advanced studies; and to develop skilled professional communicators who understand their social, legal and ethical responsibilities, and their career opportunities in a technological society.
The department also reaffirms its commitment to inter-disciplinary partnerships and collaboration and strengthening alumni relations.
Faculty and staff in the department had a two-day retreat/workshop on August 14-15, 2018 to reassess the program’s vision, value, goals, discuss and agree on a strategic plan for the future. The department’s last strategic plan meeting took place in 2012. Prior to the retreat/workshop, all members of faculty and staff were required to complete a 12-point survey, with their feedback serving as the key points for deliberations on the strategic plan. The occasion was also used to discuss student feedback and consider changes and adjustments, collect data on the courses each member of faculty was teaching and courses they could teach.
Titled Putting our Department on a Stronger Foundation, the retreat/workshop was divided into two sub-groups after the introductory session on August 14, 2018. Each sub-group was charged with the following:
Group A: Programmatic Overview
This group was charged with discussions on the following areas: Program strength and weaknesses, administration, committee service, study abroad, working with our sister department (Film, Television and Digital Media, FTDM) especially with regard to a possible partnership to use their FM Radio Station (88.7), facilities, High School outreach, extracurricular projects, and related matters.
Group B: Curriculum Issues
This group deliberated on new course introductions, reexamination of existing courses and other curriculum issues.
Discussions and Resolutions
After deliberations on the issues before the retreat/workshop, the following key resolutions were agreed upon.
- The retreat/workshop determined that the department needs more faculty members to enable it accomplish its responsibilities to students, and avoid the use of adjuncts to teach fundamental courses such as Reporting. In addition, the chair was mandated to consult the dean to ensure that a replacement for the retiring faculty (Dr. Tommy Thomason) was authorized and the process of hiring a new faculty concluded without delay.
- Recruitment and Outreach: It was agreed that the department should hold workshops for high school journalism teachers, and reach out to high schools with journalism programs and have our faculty teach for one day in the schools, and invite teachers and students in the schools to visit our department. We should work with TCU undergraduate admission office to increase enrollment. Faculty and staff at the meeting were in agreement that the department had the capacity to accommodate up to 190-200 journalism majors from its average figure of 140-160 students.
- The meeting resolved to work with the dean to improve our facilities, especially the news room. More equipment was needed to accommodate students in our envisaged addition of the introduction to visual journalism course.
- Come up with more creative ways to utilize our Journalism Innovation Fund and the Sandusky fund to enhance students’ academic experience.
- The department should work on creative ways to publicize student and alumni successes and achievements.
- The need to further develop our website and make it more user friendly and introduce more social media platforms in it.
- Increase efforts to resuscitate our study abroad program.
- Explore ways with FTDM to use its radio station for the benefit of our students.
- Engage with organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHS).
- Continue to encourage faculty and staff development through sponsorships to conferences and workshops.
- Keep a record of direct and indirect measures of student success.
- Develop a handbook for the department.
- Technology plays a key role in our department and the goal is to make sure that our students are introduced to the technology that will equip them to work as media professionals.
- BS in News & Media Studies (NMS): This program needs to be infused with more rigor with courses such as Introduction to Visual Journalism and Reporting. Work towards creating an Advance Visual Journalism. Consider requiring NMS students to do a minor instead of the 15 hours of electives.
- It was recommended to merge the multimedia course and the radio/television news writing in News Production.
- Explore opportunities for establishing a BA degree in Sports Journalism.
- Design a new capstone course that would be known as students’ signature learning activity – for seniors – instead of having a capstone for each 4000-level class.
- Maintain the current system of 15 students per skills class and 25 for conceptual classes.
- Retain the journalism minor as it is (22 hours).
- Come up with measures to formalize and standardize internships for course credit.
Relevance to department goals and vision
The new plan has innovations to train students to the be effective professional journalists or proceed to graduate school upon completion of the studies. It places emphasis on teaching students the skills and conceptual competencies required to practice journalism in the modern age in a responsible and ethical manner. It also emphasizes more interaction between our department and professionals in industry for the purpose of holding workshops for our students on current trends and innovations in the industry.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The department chair is to monitor the implementation of the strategic plan and report back to the faculty/staff meeting on the progress being made. A five-year period (2018-2023) was set as the implementation timeline for the achievement of a significant majority of the resolutions, if not all of them.
Key Implementation and Outcome of the Strategic Plan Outcomes [Post 2018]
- Tommy Thomason retired at the end of Spring 2019. Two Professors of Professional Practice were hired in Fall 2019.
- Faculty have been receiving support mainly to all AEJMC conferences for presentations, session chairs, paper discussants and other duties.
- Department now has a Process & Procedure Handbook
- Vast improvement in facilities & equipment, prominent among which are the purchase of a $100,000 (one hundred thousand) Newtek-Tricaster broadcast production system in our student newsroom and the $153,536.26 capital expenditure for cameras and other equipment upgrade in 2019.
- Key software purchases available to students include: WordPress platform for student media; Datawrapper to create data visualizations; Shorthand to help students learn to build dynamic multimedia stories; Slack for communication between students working on student media; Final Cut Pro – video software; Infogram, Venngage and Canva to help students build graphics; Cantemo portal/database to store students’ news and other packages.
- Donor Funds have been effectively used to enhance students’ experiences such as (a) drone journalism innovation workshop (April 2019) and (b) poverty in America students project in Spring and Fall 2020
- Outreach events were held such as DFW High School Journalism Teachers visit in April 2019.
- A BS in Journalism was introduced to replace the New and Media Studies degree (last graduate in Fall 2021)
- A project-based Multi-Platform Capstone course was introduced in Fall 2021, with its highlight being the Signature Learning Activity (each student’s independent project).
- Other curriculum additions include two special topics courses (a) Mobile Journalism and (b) Podcasting.
Major Pending Issues:
- Increase in enrollment.
- Developing a Sports Journalism degree.
- Increase in number of faculty to facilitate teaching more courses and enhance enrollment.
- Implementing a campus-wide journalism showcase to attract “internal” transfer students form other colleges and departments.