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​Richland College's award-winning student journalists often work full time and juggle family responsibilities while learning to keep pace with today's media.

​Contact: Debra Dennis
214-378-1851; ddennis@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — Nov. 20, 2015

(DALLAS) — The field of journalism is changing, and faculty members in the Dallas County Community College District are inventing ways to put students on the path to become news communicators in a constantly evolving market.

A new immersive, online media writing course at Richland College — one of those innovative approaches — is both mainstream and cutting edge. The goal is to attract students whose schedules may not allow them to sit for a traditional lecture or writing lab. Fifteen aspiring journalists, broadcasters and bloggers enrolled in Media Writing 2311 this fall for the inaugural semester. The class offers students the same quality instruction as the on-site lecture course, said Erica Edwards, lead journalism faculty member at Richland, who teaches the course.

Classwork includes writing assignments, lectures, discussions, readings and quizzes. Students can also watch brief video lectures at times that fit their schedules.

“I shoot out an email welcoming them to the course. I have everybody write an introduction, and I write my own introduction to let them know about me,” Edwards said. “I try to respond very quickly with email and also to have video recorded during the lecture.” The course, which will be offered again next spring, is interactive — it’s more than just reading all of the content, she added.

Many students work full time and juggle family and jobs, added Edwards, who also serves as advisor for Richland’s award-winning student media department, including the Richland Chronicle. “This course lets students work at their own pace,” she explained. “The challenge is making sure they keep up. You can go back and review a lecture or re-read the notes or the assignments or respond to changes and edits I make. We try to keep them engaged. These concerns aren’t new, but the format definitely is (new).”

Journalism is changing with the technology that reporters use. As a result, journalism students are learning a variety of skills, no matter which career path they choose — newspapers, magazines, television, radio or blogs, for example.

The basics are the same. The style guide used by the Associated Press as well as digital Web writing all are part of solid journalism, and students learn to write for a variety of media and for public relations, too, Edwards said.

 “It’s a matter of making the students feel connected. The online venue can be very effective,” said Edwards, who is also program coordinator for student media at Richland. “We tell our students: ‘You’re going to write, edit and report. You have to be the full package. If you are a well-rounded, equipped journalist, you will always find a job.’”

The gloomy outlook for journalism is distorted, and there are many reasons to study mass communications while keeping pace with the digital shift, said Elizabeth Langton, a journalism instructor at Eastfield College.

​Grant Ziegler designed and edited Duck Soup, North Lake College's literary magazine, which was a finalist for the ACP Pacemaker Award.

​Students learn to tell stories with videos, words and pictures. The expansion of social media makes them fluent for a constantly changing audience, Langton said. “We are pushing the newspaper as a digital product,” Langton said. “We’re talking about updating the website and social media and audience engagements.”

One of the challenges is reminding students that news takes place every minute of every day, Langton said. “A lot of our readers are young. They don’t read the newspaper. They are digital natives, and we have to cater to that. We have to engage them where they are,” said Langton, who also is advisor for the school’s newspaper, the Eastfield EtCetera. “It’s a balancing act, and our student reporters are learning that.”

Students will remain curious throughout their lifetime and communicate in different forums. DCCCD provides practical training to students interested in all media, including TV, radio, online and print. Students leave the program with skills in news writing, sports reporting, photography, graphic and Web design, video editing and audio editing. They are learning to talk more, learn more, analyze content and feel capable and prepared.

And they are finding success.

DCCCD students recently won a number of journalism awards at a conference hosted by the 2015 Texas Community College Journalism Association. TCCJA’s convention met in October in conjunction with the National College Media Convention, which brings together the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) and College Media Advisers (CMA).

Eastfield College journalism students' hard work paid off with awards presented at a recent Texas Community College Journalism Association conference.

​The Eastfield EtCetera was named a finalist for ACP’s prestigious Pacemaker Award, its top honor. And the top award for editorial cartooning in CMA’s Pinnacle Awards went to Jonathan Wences from Eastfield. He competed against students from two- and four-year colleges across the country, and the same cartoon won an honorable mention from ACP.

KDUX Radio, Richland’s student-run station, was named national Two-Year Radio Station of the Year by CMA. The group presented the school with its prestigious Pinnacle Award. The Richland College Student Media Group received an ACP Photo Excellence Award in the Feature Photo Pacemaker category.

The North Lake College literary magazine, Duck Soup, was a finalist for the ACP Pacemaker Award. Grant Ziegler, who is also a writing coach for the North Lake News-Register student newspaper, designed and edited the magazine, said instructor Kathleen Stockmier.

The Brookhaven Courier took home 24 honors in photography, nonphoto illustration and layout and design, said Daniel Rodrigue, a journalism teacher at Brookhaven. “I am very proud of the work our editors and staff have accomplished this past year,” Rodrigue said.

Early hands-on experience and training in multimedia formats, along with innovative classes and faculty members who are former reporters, will help DCCCD students become tomorrow’s experienced journalists.

“Our students are showing confidence,” said Langton from Eastfield. “We’re trying to prepare these students. Some will get an associate degree and move on to a four-year college, and others will move straight to the job market.”

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