Journalists should be curious people. Dordt’s program gives students a practical platform to exercise their curiosity. Are you curious about baseball? Visit a locker room. Are you curious about war? Cover a combat zone. Are you curious about the Senate? Sit in on campaigns. Are you curious about open-heart surgery? Observe and report it as a journalist. Students get out of their seats, and practice journalism in the real world. The major is intentionally small (around 8 classes), allowing students to satisfy their natural curiosity by taking classes in other fields, fields they might one day cover.
Employers often receive resumes full of journalism classes but little knowledge of the world around them. Applicants know journalism theory from the 1970’s, but not what a congressional hearing is. Journalists need to have a well-rounded education and also a knowledge of how to learn: two things that Dordt uniquely provides.
Dordt’s journalism program teaches two key skills: writing well and researching well. These skills are marketable, not just in journalism, but in a whole host of other professions as well.
Student Learning Objectives
Dordt University journalism majors will be able to:
- Think critically: Students will analyze difficult questions and craft clear, coherent responses. They will hone critical reflection skills, while developing their capacity for empathy. Students will gain insight into examining and understanding the culture they are covering while wrestling with the role of the media in that culture.
- Relate: In order to best tell their stories, Dordt journalism students will learn to interact well with the people at the heart of those stories. Students will display effective interpersonal skills and grow comfortable with engaging real people from all different backgrounds. They will demonstrate public presentation skills and the ability to ask rich questions. They will become good listeners and grow proficient at putting people at ease. Dordt journalism students will engage others in a way that is respectful, ethical, and Christ-honoring. They will understand the importance of building and sustaining networks to cover a beat with accuracy, depth, and insight.
- Research and report: Students will learn what it takes to be an organized and detailed news-gatherer. They will understand how to gather accurately and interpret responsibly the wide-range of information available. The Dordt student reporter will engaging in research and reporting of culture around, while holding to a biblical foundation. Dordt journalism students will resist the allure of the privileged while tracking down the tales of average people in real America.
- Seek the truth: Dordt journalists will analyze the role of a reporter as truth-seeker. They will study the history, ethics, and theory of journalism practices that center on the fight to shine light on injustice. They will be able to describe the legal parameters for such a search, the role that free expression plays in a democratic society, and how and why the freedom of the press is protected in the U.S. Students will also understand why fabricating or plagiarizing a news story is the third rail of journalism. Dordt students will analyze why it is necessary to follow tough stories and ask hard questions that hold accountable society’s leaders and institutions. The students will articulate how our understanding of a just society propels us to uncover the truth and seek proximate justice.
- Write well: Dordt journalism students will learn how to write "to be read": constructing concise, clear and compelling stories that connect with their target audience. They will practice refining their work through peer and professor review. Students will study published works to evaluate both ground level factors (grammar and style) as well as higher-level skills (writing in a way that is evocative, specific, and fresh). They will distinguish between showing and telling when it comes to writing. Students will demonstrate the ability to write under deadline pressure, while using accepted professional standards. They will become proficient at different types of writing, including features and hard news pieces, while learning different narrative techniques to engage audiences.
- Work in a variety of media: Through hands-on learning, students will become comfortable at presenting the news using a variety of platforms such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, the Internet, and mobile apps. They will demonstrate a familiarity with producing stories using the latest tools and technology in the constantly-evolving media world. Students will show a working knowledge of computer-assisted reporting to apply data and statistics to their stories and how to use multimedia and multiplatform storytelling to broaden the reach of a story.
- Contribute to their community: Dordt journalism students will explore how their work can contribute meaningfully to communities, both immediate and global. They will study how a journalist’s insights can help readers to understand their communities and to desire to work towards a better world. Students will explore how the media has impacted culture throughout history, as well as how cultural engagement (not cultural isolation) is a must for any reporter. Finally, they will understand why it is important for journalists to work to serve people rather than to impress them.
- Understand current events: Dordt journalism students will display a familiarity with the most recent happenings in the world, developing a broad insight into global events and issues. They will evaluate these events in order to develop story ideas, becoming savvy in discerning the important elements of a news story. Students will delve deeper into a field of study of their choice, broadening their perspectives and cultivating a specialized knowledge in an area that could become their beat in a professional newsroom.
- To prepare students to report and write in a way that informs the public in a changing media landscape.
- To increase awareness of communities and their inner workings, so students will be able to engage and impact their specific communities.
- To undertake innovative hands-on learning experiences to hone the professional skills and strategies needed in journalism.
- To promote a culture of collaboration across disciplines, so students can grasp the fields they will cover in a newsroom and be prepared to create enterprising stories.