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 Goods News for Writers

Assistant Professor John Hatcher is one of the faculty who prepares students for careers as reporters, editors, producers, and related professions.
Assistant Professor Chongwon Park teaches linguistics. Both professional writing and journalism studies draw from linguistic concepts and theory.
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UMD Offers Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies

Starting in Fall 2009, the UMD Department of Writing Studies will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies. The new program provides students with a choice of two tracks—one in journalism and one in professional writing.

Across the country and around the globe, the state of the news media is changing. Established newspapers are in bankruptcy and audience migration to the internet is accelerating. Local television news staffs are smaller and cable news channels are flourishing. Media is in transition, and at UMD a new major has been created to teach writing studies within the context of globalization.

The goal of the major is to give students in both tracks a solid foundation in writing as an academic discipline. All students in the program will take classes in ethics, new media, literacy, and technology. The core classes, those required of both tracks, and electives are designed to help students become more versatile in their writing so they can use multiple sets of skills in a variety of different jobs for diverse audiences—locally or around the world.

UMD Department of Writing Studies Head Jill Jenson said that new forms of multimedia are emerging and changing the way information is presented. The new program is designed to give students an historical and theoretical foundation in writing and teach them a broad base of skills that will help them land jobs.

"In spite of the dramatically changing newspaper industry, the world still needs people to report and write the news, and students need to learn to report it in new ways, using new tools and new methods," she said.

The new program is designed to give students a broad base of skills that will help them land jobs in the corporate world as well as the newsroom. “The ways we produce writing will change, but we're still building a good writing base," said Ken Risdon, an associate professor of writing studies. “The demand for good writing is higher than ever right now. Industry leaders want college graduates who can articulate complicated concepts in writing. As companies expand around the globe, clear, concise writing is increasingly valuable.”

Jenson said the Department of Writing Studies was able to offer the new major by redesigning the curriculum and courses in already existing minors. The major connects all the programs within writing studies—journalism, linguistics, information design and professional writing—so that students understand their relationship.

The program already has ten students who have declared Writing Studies as a major, and the department is looking for more by introducing the major in new student orientations. They are also holding an open house on Tuesday, April 21 from 12:30 - 2:30 pm in 420 Humanities for students, faculty and staff interested in learning more about the program and the two tracks offered.

The Department of Writing Studies will be working individually with students who want to switch from current minors to the new major, but students who choose to finish their current minors are still able to do so. “No student is going to be left behind,” Risdon said.

In order to aid the students in transition and make sure all students are able to graduate within a four-year plan, all of the core classes for the new major will be offered Fall or Spring semesters, and often both. In addition to the core and required classes, students have a choice of nearly 20 three-credit classes to make up the 40 credits required for the major.

“We’re thrilled to finally be able to offer this major,” Jenson said. “We really are excited.”

For information contact 218-726-8131 or visit http://www.d.umn.edu/writ

Written by Cheryl Reitan, Donna O'Neill and Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto, slatto@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830

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