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University at Albany Adds Journalism Major

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 29, 2006) -- The University at Albany has added a major in journalism to the 54 degree programs in its undergraduate fields of study. The program, housed in the English Department in the College of Arts and Sciences, expects to enroll 30 journalism majors in fall 2006.

"A degree in journalism is one more compelling reason to choose the University at Albany," said President Kermit L. Hall. "With the Capital Region a significant center of news and the news business, the major is ideally suited to our curriculum and mission."

The University's bachelor of arts in journalism will offer concentrations in four major academic areas: science, technology, environment, and medicine (STEM); visual and digital media; public affairs; and general journalism. The concentrations draw on the location of the University in the state capital, the specialization of its faculty, and the program's 33-year success as a minor. In addition to such offerings as information gathering, statistical analysis, and broadcast journalism, the program will emphasize journalism ethics and law, including the history and traditions of best journalism practices.

"This is just the right moment for us to begin this major," said William Rainbolt, director of the program and one of its three full-time faculty. "A record number of students nationally are majoring in journalism and related areas, and in addressing their needs and the possibilities of a future media world, we will be able to draw from the strong traditions we have established while at the same time providing a very contemporary journalism education."

The program will also offer courses in literary journalism, a method of reporting using subjective narrative, drama, and other literary techniques.

A 2004 survey of journalism and mass communication graduates by the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication and Research at the University of Georgia found that enrollment in the nation's journalism schools grew almost 30 percent between 1999 and 2004. A recent survey of the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute (reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 3, 2006) found that journalism is the third most popular intended major in the arts and humanities, following only fine/performing arts and English.

The University's minor in journalism was established in 1973, and in the 2005-06 academic year hosted 198 declared minors, a record number that had tripled in the last six years and grew by 30 percent over the past two years.

"Given the complex issues of the day such as war and terrorism and global warming, there's never been a better time to study and practice journalism," said Nancy Roberts, professor of communication and a full-time member of the journalism faculty. "We aim to give our students a solid liberal-arts grounding as well as the technical know-how to report with depth and insight."

"For the first time, journalism is being featured as a major subject at one of New York's University Centers," said Thomas A. Bass, professor of journalism and English. "This is great for the students and good for the profession. We are tremendously pleased by this vote of confidence in a program which is already strong and challenging and which promises, in the years ahead, to get even stronger."

"An important step along the way to the creation of the journalism major," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joan Wick-Pelletier, "was the formation of an external Board of Advisors, an eminent group containing distinguished alumni and local media personalities whose wisdom and encouragement was - and still is - critical to the success of this venture."

The Journalism Program's Board of Advisors comprises journalists, editors, writers, and publishing industry veterans, including Robert J. Bellafiore, '82, partner and director of public affairs, Eric Mower and Associates; Alan Chartock, president and CEO, WAMC/Northeast Public Radio and professor emeritus, University at Albany; Edward Dague, anchor emeritus, WNYT-TV; Stewart F. Hancock, III, president, Hancock Public Affairs, LLC; Diane Kennedy, president, New York Newspaper Publishers Association; Marc Z. Kramer, '77, CEO, New York Daily News; Susan Pinkus, '68, director of polling, Los Angeles Times; Michelle K. Rea, executive director, New York Press Association; Rex Smith, editor, Albany Times Union; and Monte I. Trammer, publisher, Elmira Star Gazette.

The board, first convened in the fall of 2004, will continue to be active in assisting the program in obtaining funding, scholarships, and internship opportunities, and in advising the program on its directions and focus. "Our meetings are very animated," said Dean Wick-Pelletier, "and full of good ideas."

The bachelor of arts in journalism is the first among the State University of New York's campus centers at Buffalo, Stony Brook, Binghamton, and Albany.


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages more than 17,000 diverse students in 10 schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit the University at Albany. Visit UAlbany's extensive roster of Faculty Experts.

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