Letter: Don’t mess with the press

Two weeks ago, one of my journalism professors dropped a bomb on my class: The College of Arts, Media and Design administration was floating around the idea of combining the programs of journalism and communication studies. The room of journalism majors fell silent. Then, confusion struck. Then, opposition.

Since that day, I’ve talked to several of my professors, all of whom had unfavorable views of the plan. I’ve joined a “Keep Northeastern Journalism Independent” Facebook group. I’ve read several Northeastern-produced fact sheets about the plan. I’ve attended a meeting between CAMD Dean Xavier Costa and concerned journalism students. And after all that, no one in the CAMD leadership has been able to concretely articulate what the point of the combination would be. A lot of buzzwords like “efficiency” and “interdisciplinary” are getting tossed around, and there have been many promises that our curriculum and faculty won’t change, but I still don’t know, on a fundamental level, why the merger would do any good.

What I do know is this: I would not have come to Northeastern if not for the autonomous, independent School of Journalism. I crossed many schools off my list precisely because they didn’t offer pure journalism, instead trying to pass communications programs or school newspapers off as the same thing. The simple act of having a solely journalism-focused school, I thought, meant that Northeastern valued the profession and major as much as I did. That’s why I’m sitting here today.

I have nothing against communication studies. In fact, I came very close to minoring in it. But the truth is, journalism is not communications and communications is not journalism. They’re related in the sense that they’re both writing-intensive majors that study media and the dissemination of information, but would Northeastern ever suggest combining biology and chemistry departments because they’re both natural sciences with a lab component? I think we all know the answer to that.

Forcing us all into one school is insulting and shortsighted. We picked the major we picked because that’s where our interest lies. Even if the curriculum stays exactly as it is, an association will be drawn between the two programs — an association that many students didn’t bargain for and don’t want.

What struck me most that day in class was the clear opposition my professor, a 20-year Northeastern veteran, had to the idea of a combination. I urge CAMD to consider the people this decision would affect and listen to them. Because when a group of professional and soon-to-be journalists don’t like something, the bad press gets a lot uglier than a letter to the editor.

 

– Jamie Ducharme is a middler journalism major at Northeastern.