Some 200 students completed their 12-week immersion in digital journalism last week at the conclusion of the Graduate School of Journalism’s second undergraduate summer minor.
The summer program’s enrollment was up 28 percent from last year, its inaugural term. Six of the seven courses offered were at or near enrollment capacity. In addition to a large cohort of UC Berkeley undergrads, students came from universities in 10 countries or territories–China, Norway, Macau, Canada, Panama, India, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.
The growing popularity of the summer program–which was launched in 2016 as Journalism in the Digital Age–attests to the strong appetite among undergraduates for courses enabling them to sharpen their advanced communicative competencies. Berkeley’s summer curriculum offers just that training–focusing on hard skills such as news writing, video production, photojournalism, social media, coding and data, as well as specialized topics like international reporting and investigative journalism.
According to David E. Thigpen, director of undergraduate programs at the Graduate School of Journalism, a key component of the program’s popularity is “students’ recognition that the skills journalists use can serve non-journalists too, both in their academic major and wherever their professional destination may be.”
The program attracts students from majors across the university, including engineering, political science, microbial biology, Southeast Asian studies, cognitive science, as well as history, media studies and English.
In the classroom students plunged into a variety of challenging learning tasks. Social Media & Journalism students practiced techniques for building their social media followings. International Reporting students learned methods for news gathering and traveling safely in war zones and other dangerous environments. Advanced Multimedia students learned coding and tools for manipulating and building websites.
Students also ventured beyond the four walls of the classroom to conduct live interviews, shoot video and still pictures, hunt down public documents, and collaborate with classmates on projects and stories. In Introductory Reporting class, not always to their delight, students were held to strict story deadlines and exacting standards of accuracy, much as they would in a professional newsroom.
Throughout the summer a steady flow of journalists and other experts from leading media and tech firms such as Google, Recode, Fusion and Andreesen Horowitz delivered guest lectures, answered questions and shared their perspectives on how digital communications are changing the world.
The strong growth in program enrollment also required adding new faculty. The program welcomed three new summer lecturers; Mary Kay Magistad, a longtime Asia print and radio correspondent and host of the PRI podcast Whose Century Is It?; Scot Tucker, a digital media professor at San Francisco State University; and Jessica Langlois, a journalist and assistant professor of English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. And returning Investigative Reporting lecturer Thomas Peele received journalism’s highest award in March–the Pulitzer Prize–for his reporting at The East Bay Times.
UC Berkeley’s Summer journalism program was developed in 2015 with a grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation of Los Altos, and launched in 2016.
Before students departed, a few were asked to share their thoughts about the program. Here’s what they said:
Tyler Stupor, junior
Major: Media Studies and Political Science
Hometown: Newport Beach, Calif.
“Journalism is a field that students of any major should pursue. We’re all consumers of media. We’re all empowered by the ability to think critically and write effectively, which journalism fosters and requires. My favorite class was Investigative Reporting. It felt most apt for the current political climate. I signed up for this minor on a whim and it truly exceeded my expectations. I met students from around the world who inspired and amazed me daily. It was an incredibly enriching experience.”
Raghav Mathur, junior
Major: Southeast Asian Studies
Hometown: Basking Ridge, N.J.
“I had no formal journalism experience before entering the program, but I like writing and storytelling and I love multimedia and entertainment. Journalism teaches skills that are transferable to all these things. I particularly enjoyed the multimedia classes. The professors have real-world experience and helped us see ways to connect our learning to the world outside the classroom.”
Miriam Rosas Canos, senior
Major: American Studies
Home: Los Angeles, Calif.
“I’m interested in writing and wanted to improve my skills. At first I thought I might not like journalism but then I fell in love with Investigative Reporting. Also I had some background in social media and like a lot of students I thought I knew it, but I learned that there’s a science behind it. Learning coding was very rewarding. I would recommend the summer program if you are interested in learning more about media overall.”
Hanzhu Tang, freshman
Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China
“I want a career in new media, so the summer journalism program matches the skills I want to improve. I learned how to use a camera, edit using software, social media tools and web coding. I also got an immersion into the American media environment. I really enjoyed my journalism classes at Berkeley. I hope to come back.”