A U.S. university recently created a new department by merging the journalism program and the computer science program. This curriculum innovation prompts me to think about how to incorporate the above-mentioned skills in a journalism curriculum – they can come in three levels and two web programming courses.
Merger of journalism/CS programs at Creighton University
It’s probably the first of its kind – Creighton University, a private university in Omaha, Nebraska, merged its journalism and computer science programs into a new Department of Journalism, Media and Computing (JM&C). The JM&C program was launched in fall 2013 and has three majors:
- Journalism major
- Advertising track
- News track
- Multi-media and photojournalism track
- PR track
- Computer science & informatics major
- Graphic design & media major
As I’m more interested in the coding/programming training this merger brings to journalism students, I examined the JM&C core courses and find one CS-related course that is required of all JM&C students – CSC121: Computers and Scientific Thinking.
Industry consensus on coding/programing skills for digital journalists
Before examining this CS course for what it teaches journalism students, I recommend readers of this post read a recent Twitter conversation by digital journalism professionals and educators for the type of coding/programming skills that journalism students should learn.
In a similar vein, I have been arguing that from a curriculum design perspective, coding/programming trainings can come in three levels:
- Level 1 – write their own HTML/CSS codes: students need to have a solid knowledge of HTML and CSS – for instance, they can hand code a complete webpage on their own. HTML/CSS is like basic literacy in the digital age and should be an absolute must for all students.
@mututemple they help me bring my projects to life. Those tools are the backbone of most of the data visualizations I make these days.
— Stephen Stirling (@SStirling) December 6, 2013
- Level 3 – know what Python/Ruby are and do: they are advanced programming languages – we don’t need to train j-students to be programmers, but they should know how to talk with programmers when collaborating on a digital project.
CS course at Creighton needs to be tailored for journalism training
When examining syllabus for CSC121: Computers and Scientific Thinking, I see components of above-mentioned coding skills; but overall, this course needs to be further tailored to suit the needs of digital journalism training.
For students interested in pursuing more of the programming training, they can take an elective course, Advanced Web Programming, where they will learn Python, Ruby, SQL, etc.