By Britney Beaman
Technology is forcing a wave of change onto journalism and communication professions. Take a deep breath and swim with the current, because this isn’t a bad thing.
According to Jeffery T. Child, an assistant professor and undergraduate coordinator for the School of Communication Studies here at Kent State University, it’s an opportune time to study communication. The Internet has changed the way that people communicate, seek news and organize information.
“We’re in an era where communication skills have never been more important, given how online communication has changed the available means for interaction,” Child said. “People need help understanding communication in different contexts, for different goals, through different channels and understanding the rich avenues for the study of interaction in this day and age when so many jobs require such an advanced communication skill set.”
The media in which people communicate and gather information may be evolving from print and face-to-face meetings to the Internet, but the basics still remain.
“It’s not changing in terms of the basics, meaning, accuracy, credibility, thoroughness and fact-checking,” said Jan Leach, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, said. “It is changing in delivery, desire for media, finding it and those kinds of things.”
That’s a good thing for COMM and JMC majors. The basics that students are taught at Kent State are those listed in the Forbes article The Seven Most Universal Job Skills. Here’s how:
- Top-Notch Communication Skills- Students in COMM and JMC studies are taught communication skills from day one in their core classes, like Introduction to Human Communication and Introduction to Mass Communication. Then this knowledge turns into skills as students progress in their upper-level classes.
- Creativity- Whether it’s choosing an angle on a news story or developing a new way to reach an audience, COMM and JMC students learn diverse and creative skills to make an impact when it matters.
- Curiosity- Students in both schools are expected to be curious, so they can find more news stories and consider the effective functioning of communication contexts in growing fields, such as the health industry and the new major concentration in health communication.
- Good Writing Ability- Not only do both COMM and JMC majors at Kent State have plenty of writing to do between the research papers, campaigns and news stories they must write for classes, but the students are taught to write professionally.
- Ability to Play Well with Others- Students within both majors experience teamwork through group projects, clubs and organizations.
- Re-engineering Skills- Using a variety of clients for projects, interviewing people in many different industries and developing an understanding of communication theory and practice are just a couple of ways that Kent State helps its COMM and JMC students become re-engineering.
- Computer Skills- Various courses in COMM and JMC help students to be familiar with different computer programs, social media and online researching tools.
These schools aren’t going to leave students treading water with these basic skills, though. Each has made changes in the learning sequences that flow with the wave of change in the professional world.
This past year, the School of Communication Studies added two new concentrations in global communication and health communication. This allows students the ability to acquire critical communication skills required for jobs in demand today.
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers a high-tech TV and print newsroom where students can practice the skills they learn in the classroom. Both schools have adopted online classes and hybrid (online and face-to-face) courses to keep up electronically.
Students need to take the initiative to swim with the current, too.
“Effective students are those who love learning, do everything they can to further invest in their education and be fully present in it,” Child said. Do this by standing out to professors, joining groups, being involved in your professors’ research and applying for internships that provide opportunities for enhanced skill development and networking.
These experiences will help you to land a job in an economy that’s tough for everyone.
“It’s a tough job market for everyone in all markets,” Leach said. “If you have multiple skills (interview, practical, multimedia and news skills) and really, really work at them, you’ll have an excellent chance of being employed in your field.”
Within this job market, traditional jobs are evolving with the Internet. Opportunities in both communication jobs and journalism jobs are more and more online focused.
So, the wave of change in communication and journalism fields may be creating different types of online jobs, but the basic skills professionals will need remain the same. Kent State COMM and JMC students are being prepared for the changes.
Here’s an eye-opening video about how the Internet and social media is changing communication and journalism in important ways…
Social Media Revolution 2012