The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

OLIVER: College of Comm needs to rediscover writing

eric oliverThe eight magic words I’ve waited four years to hear are finally almost here: “Ladies and gentlemen, your graduating class of 2014,” as the Bradley Center erupts in applause.

That leaves one burning question: Now what?

To find the answer, I looked back at who I was four years ago. I was an eager freshman ready to be the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein, and Marquette was going to be the school that made me into one of them.

Days away from graduation, I’m left scratching my head and wondering what exactly my four years here brought me. My time at Marquette in the Diederich College of Communication was reminiscent of Charlie Brown at Halloween. While it seemed everyone was enrolled in great classes and learning a lot, I couldn’t help but feel that I kept getting rocks.

Unfortunately, my sophomore year came at a time of great change in the College of Communication’s journalism curriculum, and with change you get the good and the bad.

The good were some of the most dedicated teachers I have ever seen and had the pleasure to be taught by. I don’t know where I would be without many of them, and I owe a portion of my growth as a person and journalist to them.

The bad came in a cookie-cutter curriculum that hasn’t found what it wants to be yet. When I first arrived here, a large majority of the classes being offered were based heavily in writing and reporting, two skills that are undeniably necessary in journalism. Today, the classes, much like the journalism industry as a whole, focus more on multimedia content and the necessity of conveying your message through various online mediums.

By switching the focus of the curriculum and the classes around, writing is left to die in a corner.

This is the problem. There is no denying the importance of video, photo or audio content. In fact, if it wasn’t for these few classes I’ve had in those skills, I would feel more lost than I do now. At the end of the day, though, if reporters can’t write a good story, their education didn’t do them much good.

To show you the impact of the curriculum, let me tell you a little bit of my story. Sophomore year, I didn’t know what to do. I was idling through college. I thought what I was learning in school would be enough to get me a job or at least an internship in a newsroom.

One fateful day, a professor called me into his office and asked me why I wanted to be a journalist, suggesting perhaps journalism wasn’t for me. That was a big problem because all I’ve wanted to do since high school was journalism.

After that conversation, I received the education I truly wanted in writing and reporting with the Marquette Tribune. I consider the day I joined the Tribune to be the day when my college career actually started.

The Trib taught me how to be a journalist. Everyone involved with the newspaper leaves Marquette a better journalist than we could ever be if we only went through the curriculum.

If it wasn’t for my time there, I wouldn’t have had internships with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Business Journal or the Neighborhood News Service, and I definitely wouldn’t be in a position to get a job.

What the college is doing with our curriculum is necessary to meet industry trends, but the elimination of writing isn’t the right way to do it. The curriculum needs to be a more appropriate mixture of multimedia and writing. We can’t have one without the other.

Getting ready to walk across that stage in two weeks is a bit intimidating, but thanks to my time with the Tribune, I know I’ll be ready for the rest of my life.

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    Nicole BoylanApr 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    I felt the same way about my education (at another college) in theatre. Some things cannot be taught in a classroom. You just have to get your butt out there and do it, but no one is going to hire you to learn it as you go. You need the guidance of your professors to help see you through it. They need to be there to keep you on the right track while you’re learning it. That’s why a controlled learning environment where you can learn it as you go is so important. Be it a college newspaper or the costume shop at your college’s theatre department.