Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

New master’s journalism track approved

Story by Tyler Carter

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media has created a new professional journalism track and enrolled the first cohort of students this fall. The new track consists of four core courses that will prepare students for the versatile and ever-changing field of journalism. The new program positions the University of Mississippi to serve as a leader at the graduate level in a growing and challenging field as journalism and the art of narrative storytelling in nonfiction evolve along multiple media platforms. The program will serve the needs of future journalists and those professionals in journalism today who want to raise their skills to a higher level and make journalism itself serve its core functions in our society at a higher level. Professor Joe Atkins, chair of the master’s degree program in journalism is excited to have this new track finally come to fruition.

“We’ve been working on this a couple years now,” Atkins said. “We surveyed journalists all around Mississippi and beyond to learn what they look for in such a program, how a professional program could serve students and the profession best. We also sought input from our faculty and we’ve listened when students have shared views with us. We looked at other programs in the country, at what works and what doesn’t, and considered what makes us unique and different from other places. This track is the fruition of a lot of hard work, and we’re very proud and happy to see it now in place.”

Ashley Norwood, first-year graduate student from Jackson, Mississippi, has high hopes entering her first year in the program.

“Coming into the program, I was a little skeptical. I didn’t know exactly what to expect being that I have a background in print journalism, and the future of print is not as promising as other sources of media. What I appreciate the most about this program is the variety of subjects that are available. Because digital media is now a hot commodity, participating in such a diverse track of courses has given me the opportunity to learn and gain worthwhile experience.”

Norwood also values how marketable the multimedia track will allow her to be after her time at the University of Mississippi.

“I am elated the productions aren’t just for grading purposes but we will have the chance to show our work and in turn, make our work marketable for those employers looking for young innovative multimedia journalists.”

As new classes are created, it could be assumed that new professors would be brought in to shift some of the work load, but Atkins is confident in the abilities of the faculty currently within the Meek School.

“We have some highly qualified folks already on our faculty with lots of professional experience that is ideal for this program. However, we do hope to bring in guest faculty to augment what we already have here, and we’re in those conversations now, talking to people with considerable professional and academic experience, too.”

With such a rich history in journalism, the University of Mississippi as well as the state of Mississippi have always promoted great writing. Authors such as William Faulkner and Willie Morris have paved the way for great journalism here in Mississippi, and this program seeks to further enhance and promote stellar journalistic practices.

“This is the perfect home for a program like this,” Atkins said. “The journalism program already has a strong tradition of in-depth journalism and excellent narrative writing that writers like Willie Morris so well embodied. This continues and enhances that tradition.”