Master's Degree in Community Journalism (1 year)
About the Master's Degree in Community Journalism
The Master’s Program in Community Journalism ("ComJ") encourages students to explore new ways to serve communities through the evolving practices of journalism, and to think critically about the role news plays in community.
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Students develop writing and visual journalism skills, learn skills in digital media, produce and test prototypes for news innovations, and intern in a professional newsroom, all in one year. The program serves recent BA recipients in journalism or other fields, as well as professionals seeking to deepen and expand their knowledge.
Students take two semesters of coursework at the UA campus in Tuscaloosa and then immerse themselves in a three-month professional journalism experience from May to July. To date, students have gained their professional journalism experience at the award-winning The Anniston Star newspaper, in Anniston, Ala. (Students interning in Anniston move to the Anniston area in May, as it is too far to commute from Tuscaloosa.)
The program has an impressive record of job placements. In the first four years of this program, approximately 80% of our graduates were working full time in journalism or were furthering their education within six months of graduation. This rate is significantly higher than the national average over the same period, according to the Annual Surveys of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates.
Most journalists work in community media, but most Americans think of journalism as national media, which they increasingly dislike. The profession needs more people who know and care about how communities work and why they sometimes struggle. Skillful, authoritative news coverage, an understanding of digital multimedia tools, and courageous, well-informed editorial leadership must be grounded in knowledge of local issues. That is what our one-year master's program offers — a new way of developing journalism, journalism leadership and communities through a master's degree program both at a major university and also inside a professional newsroom.
The one-year track of the master’s degree requires a minimum of 31 semester-hours of credit. It will be completed in 12 months, Aug. 16 through Aug. 15. Students must complete all work with at least a “B” average. A professional quality and conceptually rigorous project is required. A thesis is not required.
Students must complete the following courses:
• Orientation to Graduate Studies (1 credit)
• Journalism Theory and Research (3 credits)
• History of Journalism and the First Amendment (3 credits)
• Writing Elective (3 credits)
• Media Production Tools (instruction in digital technologies, 2 credits)
• General elective (3 credits)
• Contemporary Issues and Ethics in Journalism (3 credits)
• Producing Community Journalism (3 credits)
• Assessing Community Journalism (3 credits)
• Master's Project (2 credits)
• Master's Project (1 credit)
• Grand Rounds (1 credit)
• Seminar in Professional Journalism (newsroom internship) (3 credits)
Students produce a project rather than a thesis. Students learn to think through and develop new ways of doing community journalism, and they learn practical ways to test innovations in community news.
• Researches an idea for a community journalism innovation
• Learns new media tools and develops a workable prototype for the innovation
• Tests the innovation’s effectiveness, using different methods
• Analyzes and compares methods and results of the tests
• Considers what results imply for communities and for journalism
Students think critically about what it means for a news innovation to be successful. Is it successful if it helps community members? If it helps news outlets make money? Are there legal or ethical issues? The student writes a project report, including purpose, methods, results and implications. For more information about the Master's Project, visit http://www.comj.ua.edu.
No prior professional journalism experience is required, but having some college-level experience is helpful. Applicants are invited to send examples of prior journalism work to the department’s graduate coordinator.
Six to eight students will be admitted for 2013-2014. The application deadline is March 31, but late applications will be considered, if space remains. There are no spring or summer admissions for the Community Journalism track (we do allow spring admissions for our thesis track).
Applicants are eligible to compete for a limited number of partial graduate assistantships available through the department. Those awarded an assistantship would receive half tuition for the regular school year plus a small monthly stipend. Assistantship funding is not available for the required 5 hours of credit in the summer, but the Anniston Star has paid students for 40 hours of work per week in the summer internship. For more information about financial aid through the University, visit financialaid.ua.edu.
The town of Anniston is across the state from Tuscaloosa. Therefore, the summer internship at the Anniston Star requires students to move from Tuscaloosa to Anniston at the beginning of May. Students may want to seek a nine-month lease in Tuscaloosa, or try to sublease their Tuscaloosa apartments for the summer. Students should begin actively seeking housing in Anniston by February. The journalism department and the Anniston Star have contact information for apartment complexes and homeowners who have offered three-month leases in the past, and students have had no major difficulties finding housing. However, please note that neither the department nor the Star arrange housing for students. Students are responsible for finding their own housing, and this will entail some searching.
Equipment, workspace, software and multimedia classrooms with Internet connections are provided. Students have access to services such as admission and career counseling, course scheduling and tickets to sports and cultural events. The Web site MyBama connects all students with e-mail. The main campus of the University of Alabama is in Tuscaloosa. Students moving to Anniston for the summer internship (May to July) have access to the digital resources of UA libraries and the Star's extensive in-house collection of books, as well as the use of the library at nearby Jacksonville State University.
We welcome your interest in becoming a part of this program. For more information, please contact the graduate coordinator, Dr. Wilson Lowrey at email@example.com or (205) 348-8608. You may also contact the main Journalism Department office at (205) 348-7155.