Digital trends in the media are affecting every aspect of the journalism field, including education. The University of Colorado at Boulder is pondering closing its journalism department in favor of a new degree program that would combine journalism and computer science skills. According to Editor & Publisher, the new academic unit could compound on existing strengths in journalism, yet adding computer science course will "prepare students for an ever-changing communications and media marketplace."
To create this new journalism degree, the university's regents board requires the school follows the "Program Discontinuance" procedures. This is unfortunate for the students who currently attend CU, as they express apprehension over the merit of the old version of the journalism degree. Dean Hurtt, a student interviewed by CUindependent states "I mean, journalism is kind of a dying form. But it just sucks that I'm in that outdated form I guess. If I could I'd like to start working on that new degree right now, but I don't think that's going to be a choice."
Hurtt, along with the many journalism students, recognize the need to have a more well-rounded skill set. While the popularity of the print versions of many newspapers is decreasing, social networking platforms and other digital devices are increasingly recognized as the main mode to consume news. Young journalists need to be prepared for the changes occurring in the industry if they expect to be employable. CU is not the only school making changes to prepare their students for the realities of journalism; about 30 additional journalism schools, including Wisconsin, Cornell, Rutgers and UC Berkeley, are dramatically changing the curriculum to adequately address technological trends in mass communication.
The university has emphasized that it has yet to make a decision on canceling the current program. However inopportune the closure will be for current students, the potential for future journalists could be dramatically improved if computer science courses are required for the degree. Tom Yulsman, an associate professor at CU, explains "There's always two sides to change. There's opportunity, which is exciting. But change also brings risk, and that's unsettling. I'm excited and unsettled at the same time."