Journalism students face new rules

Journalism students will now have to complete the requirements of the new Capstone Project to graduate.

Many journalism students may be wondering what the Capstone Project is, where it came from, and why.

It was designed to make sure students are learning and are prepared for jobs after graduation, said Kimberly Godwin, the interim director for the division of journalism.

Godwin said the University required the journalism department to prepare requirements to assure students have learned the information needed to prepare them for employment after graduation. The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication started working on this project in August and has successfully prepared several requirements for students majoring in newspaper journalism, magazine production, public relations and broadcast.

All graduating journalism seniors will meet individually with at least three committee members before the end of the semester to present their portfolios.

These students will have five to 10 minutes to explain their career goals, present a portfolio and describe the articles in that portfolio, according to the Capstone requirement form. The portfolio, which varies by sequence, should include a cover letter, resume, three published writings and an essay on media ethics or media law. After the presentation, the review committee will ask the students questions. Each student will be evaluated by a standard rubric and given immediate feedback on the presentation.

Each sequence will be required to submit additional requirements. Public relations students will have to include a media kit, speech script or other communications project.

Print students will include documentation of internships, leadership roles or membership in professional organizations. Students will also give a three-minute presentation analyzing one of the best stories in their portfolio.

Broadcast students are to present an audition recording that they have produced that would interest an employer. They will also have to give a summary of the content of the audition recording.

Godwin also said the journalism department has come up with five assessment goals that each graduate should have accomplished before graduation.

The first is to demonstrate ability to write using standard grammar on deadline. Secondly, potential graduates must demonstrate a strong ability to research and gather useful information on deadline for journalistic products. Thirdly, they must show the ability to apply media law and ethics in critically analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information and be able to use technical or electronic journalism tools. Lastly, degree seekers must exhibit professionalism and use effective oral and written communication skills.

Requirements are not just for seniors. This year, freshmen, sophomores and juniors will have required tests in language skills, mass media methods and news writing and reporting classes.

Godwin said students should be excited because it will help them see where they are. She also said it will help students stay on schedule and prepare them for their first job.

Tyre Sperling, a senior public relations student, agreed.

“I think it is a good idea. I support the project 100 percent,” Sperling said.

“It is a good idea,” said Matt Spalding, a sophomore broadcast journalism student.

“But it shouldn’t keep you from graduating as long as you show them quality.”

“The Capstone Project is a way of seeing what students have learned in the last four years and it also shows the faculty their weaknesses,” Godwin said.