MaconCatalog : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences : ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS : JOURNALISM (JMS)
James E. Black, Chair/Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies
Debbie Blankenship, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism
Cynthia M. Gottshall, Professor
Evey Wilson, Assistant Professor of Practice
The mission of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies is to offer students a liberal arts perspective on the study of media and journalistic storytelling by exploring the flow of content across multiple media forms and platforms, including print and broadcast journalism, film, video, radio, television, and web- and mobile-based digital media. The Journalism program, in conjunction with the Center for Collaborative Journalism, focuses on meeting community news and information needs, gaining structured practical experience with guidance from working experts in the field, and incorporating subject matter expertise into journalistic work.
All Journalism and Media Studies courses with a required lab component are taught in the department’s Digital Media Lab using Apple Macintosh computers. Students who wish to use their own computers should purchase a Macintosh with the department’s recommended software applications.
The Department of Journalism and Media Studies offers a major and minor in Journalism, a major and minor in Media Studies, and a minor in Film Studies.
In order to earn Departmental Honors in Journalism, a Journalism major must meet the following requirements: (1) a minimum overall grade point average of 3.50; (2) achieve a grade point average of 3.50 in the Journalism major; (3) complete JMS 430; (4) submit a portfolio of journalistic work by March 15 of the senior year to be juried by journalism professors and working journalists. The portfolio must be judged “outstanding” to receive Honors.
Major in Journalism
38 semester credit hours minimum
JMS 120. Journalism and Media Boot Camp
JMS 150. News Writing for Converged Media
JMS 235. Fundamentals of Photojournalism
JMS 260. Civic and Community Journalism
JMS 320. Data Journalism
JMS 440. Specialized Reporting
Three Practica:
JMS 290. Practicum (taken twice, once in the sophomore and once in the junior year)
JMS 390. Advanced Practicum (in the senior year)
Two courses from:
JMS 375. Journalism History
JMS 400. Media Ethics
JMS 401. Media Law
Three courses from:
JMS 302. Hacking the Media
JMS 305. The Visual Story
JMS 324. Investigative Reporting
JMS 335. Curating News and Information
JMS 340. Digital Audio
JMS 351. Field Production
JMS 352. Studio Production
JMS 362. Documentary Storytelling
JMS 385. Media Entrepreneurship
JMS 430. Engagement Journalism
Minor in Journalism
18 semester credit hours minimum
JMS 120. Journalism and Media Boot Camp
JMS 150. News Writing for Converged Media
JMS 235. Fundamentals of Photojournalism
JMS 260. Civic and Community Journalism
JMS 290. Journalism/Media Practicum (taken in the sophomore or junior year)
Two courses from:
JMS 320. Data Journalism
JMS 324. Investigative Reporting
JMS 335. Curating News and Information
JMS 340. Digital Audio
JMS 351. Field Production
JMS 352. Studio Production
JMS 362. Documentary Storytelling
JMS 385. Media Entrepreneurship
JMS 430. Engagement Journalism
JMS 101. Media in Society (3 hours)
A survey of contemporary media with a focus on developing media literacy and understanding media industries and the consequences of media messages on individuals, society, and culture. (Every semester)
JMS 120. Journalism and Media Boot Camp (3 hours)
Journalism and Media Boot camp provides students essential preparation for journalistic writing and multimedia production in a fast-paced, deadlinedriven environment. The goal is to provide journalism and media studies majors with foundational skills needed for future classes, and to provide nonmajors with the skills and concepts needed to work with the Center for Collaborative Journalism. Students will learn basic journalism and media ethics, AP style, inverted pyramid style, video and still photography, and audio production. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 145. News Literacy (3 hours)
An introduction to key journalistic characteristics, such as verification, accountability, independence, and multiple perspectives, that distinguish real news from other forms of information. Students will examine the role of a free press in a democracy and the protections provided to journalists by the First Amendment. Critical-thinking skills necessary for judging the reliability of news accounts are emphasized. (Every year)
JMS 150. News Writing for Converged Media (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 120.
An introduction to writing news in a professional environment and to the forms journalism takes in a converged, digital age. Special emphasis is given to introduce the student to what is news and how it is found, fact gathering, story structure, and collecting information from primary and secondary sources. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 198. Special Introductory Topics in Journalism, Film Studies, or Media Studies: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
Study of an introductory topic in Journalism, Film Studies, or Media Studies not covered in any of the departmental offerings. This course may not be applied to the Journalism, Media Studies, or Film Studies majors or minors. (Occasionally)
JMS 220. Introduction to Film Studies (3 hours)
The course offers an introduction to the broad field of film studies including formal analysis, genre studies, film history, film criticism and film theory. Film screenings will be required. (Every year)
JMS 225. Introduction to Nonfiction Film (3 hours)
This course offers a conceptual overview of the forms, strategies, structures, and conventions of nonfiction film and video. The course focuses on social and political documentaries, personal essay films, digital stories, news documentaries, and narrative nonfiction techniques. Film screening will be required. (Every year)
JMS 230. Digital Storytelling (3 hours)
This course will explore digital storytelling as a contemporary form of narrative nonfiction storytelling. Students will learn how to shape and tell stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. They will learn how to craft engaging stories that combine digital audio, photography, video, narration, and interactive graphics. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 235. Fundamentals of Photojournalism (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 120
This course prepares students in visual reporting with a camera. Students will learn the art of photographic storytelling and the ethics of visual reporting, as well as the mechanics of digital photography. Students will learn basics of shooting, audio editing, and image editing through assignments and in-class lab exercises. Students will finish the semester with a traditional photojournalism portfolio. (Every year)
JMS 240. Contemporary Issues and Media (3 hours)
This course examines the way that contemporary issues are shaped and manipulated by the media through framing and agenda setting. The course uses basic theoretical principles from both mass media and journalism studies to provide students with the ability to think and write critically and speak persuasively about the issues currently in the news. (Every year)
JMS 260. Civic and Community Journalism (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 150.
This course will build skills in news gathering techniques used in print, broadcast, and online journalism. Students will learn and apply the key elements of civic journalism as well as develop interviewing and sourcing skills related to the practice of community journalism. Lab activities complement classroom activities. (Every year)
JMS 290. Journalism/Media Practicum (1 hour)
Prerequisite: JMS 120.
Practical experience working in an approved media organization for at least three hours per week. May be repeated for a maximum of 5 credit hours; only two hours may count toward the Journalism major; only one hour, toward the Journalism minor. Does not count in the major or minor in Media Studies. (Every semester)
JMS 301. Media Criticism (3 hours)
This course examines media texts as cultural artifacts from a variety of critical and theoretical perspectives. We will focus on film, television, and New Media in our examination of the meanings, pleasures, and practices of one of the most widespread sign systems of our time. The approaches/methods will include: semiotics, auteur theory, genre theory, feminist theories, cultural studies, postmodernism, and cybercriticism. (Every year)
JMS 302. Hacking the Media (3 hours)
The goal is to equip journalism and media studies students with foundational technical knowledge and enable them to construct a wide variety of digital solutions for news and information dissemination. Such solutions may include interactive timelines, quizzes and games, data visualizations, interactive videos, and slideshows. Students will learn to use tools and APIs from major media organizations. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 305. The Visual Story (3 hours)
The course is concerned with the relationship between story/script structure and visual structure in creating film, TV, and digital media. Concepts and principles covered in the course can be used in the preparation, production, and editing of motion pictures, television shows, short films, documentaries, commercials, and other digital platforms, be they live action, animated, or computer generated. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 310. Race, Gender, and Media (3 hours)
(Same as AFR 310 and WGS 310)
This course will critically examine the role of the media in enabling, facilitating, or challenging the social constructions of race and gender in our society. We will consider the mass media to be one among many other social institutions such as religion, education, and family, which strongly influence our everyday notions of race and gender. The course will address a variety of entertainment and news content in print and electronic media. (Every two years)
JMS 315. Film Director: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
In-depth study of a selected film director. Director study will analyze and evaluate a director’s dominant themes, creative content, historical context, and cinematic style. This course may be repeated with different topics for a maximum of nine credit hours applied to the major or six credit hours applied to the minor. (Every year)
JMS 316. Film Genre: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
In-depth study of a selected film genre. Genre study will be an analysis and discussion of specific generic conventions, historical shifts from within the genre, and theoretical foundations. Potential genres include Science Fiction, American Screen, Comedy, Film Noir, Horror Film, Westerns, and Animation. This course may be repeated with different topics for a maximum of nine credit hours applied to the major and six credit hours applied to the minor. (Every year)
JMS 318. Queer Cinema (3 hours)
(Same as WGS 318)
The course offers an overview of the aesthetic hallmarks, political impulses and critical, responses that distinguish queer cinema as a unique, important tradition. Queer authorship, reading practices, and the queerness inherent in mainstream genres will be explored. The work of lesbian and gay filmmakers working in avant-garde and underground venues will also be discussed, moving toward a consideration of the New Queer Cinema movement. (Every two years)
JMS 320. Data Journalism (3 hours)
Prerequisites: JMS 120 and JMS 150.
This course prepares students to gather, analyze, and present data in the public interest. Students will learn how to identify, obtain, and evaluate useful documents and other sources of data; clean, analyze, and extract meaningful information from large data sets; prepare data for public consumption, including telling stories based on data, producing visualizations of relevant data, and making it possible for consumers to interact with the data. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 324. Investigative Reporting (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 260.
This course focuses on investigative reporting with an emphasis on in-depth newsgathering techniques to prepare students for reporting public affairs in print, broadcast, and online media. Depth reporting encompasses coverage of local, state, and national government, courts and criminal justice, campaigns and elections, business and economics, education, science and health, religion, and sports. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 335. Curating News and Information (3 hours)
In this course, students will explore new and evolving curation and aggregation theory and practice. The focus is on curating and creating content and organizing an online platform for publishing that content. Students will examine content curation tools as well as content sharing tools, with the goal of providing journalists, web authors, and digital media professionals with the experience and understanding needed to perform as news and information curators. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 340. Digital Audio (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 120 or consent of instructor.
This course covers the fundamentals of audio recording and mixing for podcasts and radio production. Modules include basic microphone elocution, writing for digital recording, analog and digital recording principles, console operation, and microphone selection and placement. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 351. Field Production (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 120.
An introduction to the principles and procedures of single-camera video production with focus on the competent use of equipment and technique in the field and in post-production. Students will master videography, lighting, sound recording, and editing of field projects, including news packages, video features, public service announcements, short documentaries, and other types of nonfiction stories. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 352. Studio Production (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 351.
Students will develop a working knowledge of broadcast studio operations and production as well as the process involved in creating a news magazine format television program. The focus will be on the competent use of production studio equipment, broadcast anchoring, and booth direction. The goal of the class is to create student programing for WMUB. Lab required. (Every year)
JMS 362. Documentary Storytelling (3 hours)
An advanced production course covering nonfiction formats. The course explores directing the documentary video with an emphasis on the analysis of nonfiction films and on writing, planning, directing, and editing class projects. The class will examine the documentary filmmaker’s role, responsibilities, and methods of working in all phases of pre-production, production, and post-production. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 365. Storytelling and Social Change (3 hours)
Prerequisite: JMS 230 or 362.
An advanced theory and production class focusing on media storytelling as an agent for civic engagement and positive social change. Students will view and analyze prominent examples of documentary and narrative storytelling while preparing to assist local agencies in producing social advocacy videos that promote organizations or social causes. These service-learning production projects make up a significant component of the course. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 370. Public Relations (3 hours)
This course will address the theory and practice of public relations, how public relations operates in organizations, its impact on publics and its functions in society. Students will study the professional development of the field; concepts, issues, and principles in the practice; and models and theories guiding the practice. There will be an emphasis on case studies, lectures, and experimentation with major public relations tools and practices. (Every two years)
JMS 372. Screenwriting (3 hours)
An introduction to writing for the screen, this course focuses on the conventions and craft of narrative storytelling. Students work individually and as part of a creative team to tell stories for the screen in terms of action and characters. Short individual writing exercises receive peer analysis and review in a workshop setting. Students will analyze produced films and scripts and will provide a final screen play of their own that adheres to the conventions of narrative storytelling and dramatic structure. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 375. Journalism History (3 hours)
This course is designed to examine journalism from the first crude hand presses and wooden types, through the Colonial and Revolutionary eras in America, the pioneer and western settlement eras, the Civil War, the Westward Expansion, the time of yellow journalism, the rise of the magazine, the rise of the radio, the rise of television, the coming of computer technology, corporate ownership, the vast media conglomerates that have emerged in the last decades, and other areas that define journalism today. (Every two years)
JMS 385. Media Entrepreneurship (3 hours)
This course examines the Internet’s disruption of traditional media business models, the fundamentals of starting and promoting new media ventures, the nature of innovation, and the successful promotion and branding of journalists and media. Students will study successful and failed media businesses via case studies, develop ideas for media businesses, and launch their own digital media startup experiment(s). Students are strongly encouraged to take JMS 302 prior to enrolling in this course. Lab required. (Every two years)
JMS 390. Advanced Practicum (3 hours)
Prerequisites: two hours of JMS 290 and senior standing.  
An advanced hands-on experience working in an approved media organization for at least nine hours of work per week. The goal is to provide students with an expanded portfolio and opportunity to build on skills they will need in their career fields. (Every semester) 
JMS 398. Internship in Journalism and Media (1-9 hours)
Prerequisite: junior or senior status and consent of instructor
An internship of at least three on-site hours per week for every hour of credit for least 15 weeks with an approved media outlet or related organization or agency. The student will serve as an apprentice under professional supervision with regular consultation with his/her Journalism/Media Studies professor at Mercer. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 hours, total. Graded S/U. Three hours are required for the major in Media Studies; does not count toward the major or minor in Journalism. (Every semester)
JMS 400. Media Ethics (3 hours)
This course examines the process of ethical decision making in professional media communication and the principles on which ethical decisions are based. Through readings, case studies, class discussions, and presentations, students will examine the role of ethics in different journalism and mass communication contexts, including reporting, digital storytelling, blogging, advertising, and public relations. (Every two years)
JMS 401. Media Law (3 hours)
This course is designed to give students an understanding of the legal environment that affects mass communication professionals, including journalists, public relations practitioners, and advertising professionals. The course examines the historical development of the notion of free expression, explores the legal limitations on expression, and seeks to develop a framework for evaluating the fluid legal landscape that communicators face. (Every two years)
JMS 405. Seminar in Film Studies (3 hours)
Seminar on a figure, theme, style, movement or theory in film studies, with practice in the methods of research in film studies. Open to seniors enrolled in the interdisciplinary minor in film studies and to others with approval of the Director of Film Studies. Emphasis on individualized work, which may include reports, a longer research project, or a research essay. (Every two years)
JMS 430. Engagement Journalism (3 hours)
Prerequisites: JMS 150, 260, and senior standing.
Engagement journalism is reporting that is shaped by substantive interaction between journalists and their audience. Students will participate in a community-engagement project that may involve using social media or canvassing to gather community input, reporting stories based on that input, and presenting the gathered material directly to the community. (Every year)
JMS 440. Specialized Reporting (3 hours)
Prerequisite: senior standing.
This course provides an individualized experience where students execute focused journalism in their subjectmatter field of expertise (from their second major, minor, or journalistic specialty). Students will read exemplary journalistic texts (newspaper and magazine stories, documentaries, and TV and radio reports) in their field and produce multiple journalistic works in that domain. (Every year)
JMS 490. Special Topics in Journalism and Media: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
A study of some significant topic in journalism or mass communication that is not available through regular course offerings. May be taken twice, with different topics, for a maximum of six hours credit. (Occasionally)
JMS 495. Directed Independent Study in Journalism and Media: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
Prerequisites: junior or senior status and consent of instructor.
Intensive reading on a selected topic in an area of special interest to the student. The program of study must be agreed upon with the instructor and cleared with the chair of the department in advance of registration. May be repeated with different projects/topics, but total credit may not exceed 6 hours. (Occasionally)