Public Relations and Journalism Headline Minors for Fall 2020.

By: Vincent Cassano

Fall 2020 semester will feature two minors applicable to students that they can declare. The Public Relations Minor is being offered now for its third semester, while the Journalism Minor will be offered for the first time. Both minors offer education about  many techniques and tools that are used throughout numerous careers no matter the field. 

  The Public Relations Minor includes the required classes CMD206: Introduction to Public Relations, (with the choice between ) CMD302 PR Writing and Media Techniques, CMD401 Public Relations Case Studies. The Journalism Minor requires; CMD209: Contemporary Journalism, CMD307: Broadcast Writing and Delivery, CMD315: Writing for Digital Media, CMD403: Principles of Communication Law.

    To complete the Public Relations minor an additional four courses will be required as electives. Classes come from the Communication department as well as the Marketing department. The Journalism Minor requires two additional elective courses to complete the minor.

However, students within the communication major will not be allowed to double count certain classes towards both the minor and the major. So Communication students cannot also accomplish the minor by only taking classes toward their major.

“We want it to be an intentional choice,” said Dr. Megan McFarlane, assistant professor of communication at Marymount University. The hope and expectation from the department in regards to both minors is that the in-house communication students will elect for the minor with the mindset of going above and beyond. 

For understanding, students who plan to take CMD204 and CMD399 with the approach to acquire the Journalism minor should expect said classes to count only towards the minor. Students from other majors should not anticipate the same issues being a problem towards their minor and major.  

Students who remain undecided and are wavering on the fence towards Journalism or Public Relations may miss certain facts that will guide them towards a decision. In Public Relations the field is dominated by seventy percent women, according to “Public Relations Strategies and Tactics” authored by Dennis L.Wilcox. This is in stark contrast to the numerous other careers that may not be as female-friendly. 

Continuing facts show that the specialization of Journalism has in itself seen a recent rise in applicants for incoming college students. At the University of Maryland, they have seen a fifty percent jump in incoming Journalism students for their past 2018 fall semester, admitting one hundred and thirty students into that program alone. 

Additionally, Public Relations has seen extended growth over the past five years, as the career has been listed as one of the top ten fastest-growing careers right now, including “Event Planner ” which is a sub-portion that is part of the Public Relations profession, however not being the entirety of it. 

In the Arlington area, the median income for a journalist is thirty-seven thousand seven hundred thirty-five dollars. Which is above the national average. While a PR specialist in Arlington makes fifty-nine thousand five hundred and ninety dollars. 

Marymount is located within the areas for both professions to succeed. Allowing the students, while they are still in school to go out and dip their hand into the profession early on helps them get ahead of the game. 

Additionally, the faculty has brought in specialists within their respective fields to speak to the students. Specialists come in and offer up knowledge and tips from first hand experience. Other people that have been brought in give insight on job hunting and internships. Matt Fuller from the Huffington Post and Andy Medici from the Washington Business Journal both have visited Marymount in the spring 2020 semester. 

Marymount faculty members hope in the long term that the minors will soon turn into department majors in themselves.

Other universities have been seen to do this already, such as the University of Maryland which offers a multimedia journalism program for graduate school. The University of Missouri as well has a school of Journalism for undergraduates to apply to. The University of Southern California offers a BA in Public Relations.

Dedication from faculty and students could lead to expansion of the two minors. Expanding the school’s departments could lead to more opportunities all around for the school and its students. 

But the two minors separately, however, will add more workload to the schedule of students. Students expanding their dedication from their major and with an added minor could not be fully prepared. “I think the intro course is a filter course,” Dr. Janet Fallon said. Students with the desire and will to take on the additional work will “flourish,” said Fallon.    

However much like other majors and minors, if the student is not a fit within the curriculum, then the relationship between the two will not suffice. Students who may have jobs, athletics, or other pre agreements may not have the time at hand to focus on the addition. Such things are not frowned upon. Going into the minor prepared however is promoted. 

With that being said, students should not feel discouraged  from declaring for either minor,  as they offer numerous tools and fundamental abilities that will help students succeed in whatever field they pursue. 

Dr.Fallon said, “Politics majors who see the validity of PR as it intersects with politics especially in a campaign year when publicity and getting a message out is so important” are examples of the crossing of the tools used from the PR minor into other fields. Many tools may go unknown to students who stray away from such courses, tools that students who are on the fence about adding the minors should know. 

Proper writing, practice speaking in front of the public, firm understanding of trends and how to translate them, ability to become fluent with different media properties and the list goes on. The two minors respectively in different ways,  give students the chance to become more well-rounded, as opposed to competitors they will compete with when it comes time to enter the career field. 

Journalism offers clear and concise writing skills, along with the ability to understand and practice the power of researching, towards the purpose of achieving the end goal. Additionally, it allows students to practice interviewing skills that will translate over to any career. 

For students that are interested in either a career in Journalism or Public Relations specifically, the two minors provide numerous opportunities. They give the student the skills and the support system needed when seeking out an internship, which is a requirement to graduate from Marymount University. 

Securing an internship in one of the careers could provide a foot in the door that could lead to a secured job down the line. “I interned in 2013 and then I was hired in 2014 right before I graduated,” said Matt Knoedler, a Capitol Hill journalist for Lily Broadcasting. “Interning within the same market is a huge addition,” he continues, emphasizing the importance of interning when seeking out a job. Feeling the relative proximity from one location to another helps vastly when it comes time to placing credentials onto a resume. Knoedler initially interned at WJET24 local news in Erie, Pa, and then was hired by Channel 12 local news within the same city. 

Marymount University is located minutes away from the Journalism hub that is Washington D.C. The proximity of the opportunities students will find here, guided by their teachers could lead to internships and jobs. The location allows students to take the teachings from the minor and apply them to the real-world. 

 Knoelder states, “numerous tools from both school, but mainly the internships and first hand experience are still things that I used till this day…I’m still adapting and changing all the time with different techniques.”

Having to relocate or remain in town, or if the job pays sufficient funds sit at the top of the college students checklist when looking for jobs. Pursuing careers in both Journalism or Public Relations, after graduating from Marymount University, could possibly check both criteria for graduates. 

Just as the Journalism minor is located in a thriving location, the Public Relations minor as well builds off the opportunities from the surrounding community. Arlington holds numerous Public Relations firms. 

Out of three hundred and thirty-seven cities, Washington D.C. (with the addition of Arlington and Alexandria) ranks number one for cities for a PR specialist. This provides a chance for students to have more than enough opportunities to continue their career after Marymount without having to move.

Fulfilling both destination and wage desires is just not all however. Students who owe between ten thousand and twenty thousand dollars in loan debt will typically take fifteen years to pay it off. 

Going forward, Marymount now is preparing for what is to come. With the Public Relations minor entering its third semester, faculty hope for more students to declare, but the promotion of the minor has yet to reach a wide audience. 

The Journalism minor is just starting to be advertised, as it was recently approved to start in the coming fall semester. Students and faculty must keep their eyes open seeking these minors out or the teachings and opportunities they offer that are universal may go undiscovered. Interested students can discuss academic strategies and options with their academic advisors in regard to the minors.


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