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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Journalism - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the School of Communications web site.

Director: Thompson. Associate Professors: Beery, Pednekar-Magal; Assistant Professor: Hyun; Visiting Professors: Billups, Bowe.


The journalism program offers majors a broadly based education in which the study of journalism is grounded in the liberal arts. This emphasis on critical thinking and historical perspective embraces the fundamental principle that a free press and an informed citizenry are essential for the success of a representative democracy.

The program embraces the phenomenon of news in society and explores the complex changes in both traditional media and evolving Internet-based, multimedia delivery of news and information. It offers a range of instruction in journalism theory, practice, history, and criticism. Students are encouraged to develop a thorough background in writing skills of different kinds and in literature.

The journalism program also offers majors the challenge of entering the job market as prepared, professional journalists. It offers the opportunity for students to develop gateway skills of reporting (interpersonal communication and information gathering), writing (a very rich variety of nonfiction writing in print and electronic formats), and editing (visual communication, critical thinking, analysis, ethics and law).

Most media outlets today are developing multimedia delivery services. Broadcasters are hiring print journalists to assist with online information delivery. Print publishers are hiring broadcast majors to assist with audio and video online presentations. There are lots of opportunities for a graduate with specialized, multimedia skills.

Students have the opportunity to develop depth inside journalism through courses offered in related majors through the School of Communications, including advertising, broadcasting, film/video, photography and public relations. For example, journalism majors may earn a minor in public relations; explore photojournalism through a series of classes through the largest photography program in the state; or gain broadcast reporting and news-delivery skills through broadcast and theatre classes.

In addition, journalism majors are encouraged to develop depth outside of journalism in an area common to the news: arts, computer science, economics, political science and sociology, among others.

Finally, students engage their chosen profession through internships independent studies, employment and other experiences in print, broadcast, cable and Internet-based media. There is opportunity for networking and making contacts within the profession, and Grand Valley allows students to apply up to 15 internship credits toward graduation.

The Grand Rapids area is a top-50 market for television, and it features three commercial television stations, two public TV/radio stations and over 50 radio stations. Area print media include four daily newspapers (The Grand Rapids Press, The Holland Sentinel, The Greenville Daily News and the Grand Haven Tribune); over 15 weekly newspapers; and minority, arts, business and other specialty magazines. All area media feature Internet-based information delivery products. New opportunities are developing with the launch of the statewide MLive media group.

Students also have opportunity to earn a paycheck and gain valuable experience at the twice-weekly Grand Valley Lanthorn and (, the student-run campus newspapers. Related opportunities are available at the student radio station WCKS and TV station GVTV.

Career Opportunities

Journalism graduates find employment in all fields where strong communication and writing skills are required. Graduates find jobs in all media - print, broadcast and online - and in related fields. In addition, there are new opportunities for the entrepreneur with multimedia skills. While the media business is rapidly changing, basic gateway journalism skills are still excellent preparation for most entry-level jobs.


Journalism majors are strongly encouraged to take multiple internships in a variety of settings: print, broadcast and online. Most local media have developed online services, where students also find a variety of internship opportunities. Students may apply up to 15 internship credits toward graduation. Students are strongly urged to work closely with their faculty advisor or internship coordinator in identifying internships that best suit their interest and career ambitions.


The School of Communications' Scholarships honor upper-level School of Communications students who have demonstrated promise in their chosen field of study.

The Michigan Press Association Foundation award is given each year to a journalism student who has demonstrated a commitment to community journalism.

The Corky Meinecke Memorial Scholarship is intended to benefit students with an interest in a career in sports, be it in radio, television, or print media, or in media relations.

The Grand Valley Lanthorn Merit Scholarships benefit student staff members working in editorial, advertising and business departments.

Student Organizations

The primary student media outlet is the twice-weekly print edition of the Grand Valley Lanthorn and its online associated outlet, Staff positions in all departments are paid.

Students also have the opportunity to gain experience at WCKS, the student-run radio station, and GVTV, the student-run television station.

The following program is available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Journalism

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.