With every major comes major requirements — classes you must take in order to receive credit towards the degree. These classes can be held at different times and taught by various professors in the department, but every student will ultimately complete them as requirements to graduate. To be a journalism major, one must pass a series of multimedia journalism classes to further enhance his or her ability to use digital media, as the industry grows to be heavily reliant on it for the spread of breaking news. This requirement is what led me to Journalism 333: Visual Storytelling. My expectations entering this class were that I wouldn’t end up with that great of a grade, as my picture taking ability is not up to par in comparison to my much more aesthetically-focus peers. However, this class ended up being by far the most rewarding one I’ve taken in my time at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
The mass communication sector of any company continues to grow dependent on aesthetically pleasing detail for its clientele base. Our nation’s attention span has shortened to a matter of minutes, so media outlets must be able to share news within seconds to keep their audiences entertained and well informed. For these reasons, among many others, Journalism 333 taught me why one’s ability to visually tell a story is critical to succeed in current society. Our assignments entailed photo stories, video interviews, and, for our final project, we were asked to create our very own website.
My Wix Site
My final project entailed that I study two aspects of my existence that affect my day-to-day life as a student at UMass Amherst. Given that we had little time to complete the final (a matter of two weeks), no study any of us conducted would be greatly measured over time. However, the focus on the project was put more toward one's ability to well represent the data at hand, rather than the quantity and quality of the data itself. This seems backward, as one would assume the data collected matter more, but it puts a lot of stress on our ability to present data in a clear, interesting way.
With this, we were asked to make a Wix website for our final project that explained the study conducted, including background information about our lives, and the significance this holds in the grand scheme of college. In keeping with my social media focused lifestyle (both in and outside of the classroom), I conducted a study about how my (ridiculously high) iPhone screen time impacted my GPA. While I concluded that there was no correlation between my obsessively checking my Snapchats and my grades, it made me learn something about myself in considering aspects of my life that I never thought of prior to this assignment. Then, having learned something new about myself, I was able to create (what I think was) a really cool website to disseminate the information.
UMass Stays Ahead of its Time
A common criticism any communication-related major will inevitably hear over time is that their degree is essentially a “second undecided,” and that as journalism strays from it’s traditional print medium, it no longer reigns as important as it once was. Not only are these unnecessary criticisms, they are also entirely false. One’s ability to communicate can entirely benefit the greater good of a company or organization, and the dissemination of information (especially breaking news) is an important foundation for the growth of any society.
Journalists are often referred to as the “fourth pillar” of society because of this — without journalists, we would be completely left in the dark about worldwide current events. Therefore, it’s important to find a college or university that prioritizes the resources necessary to educate their students in how to successfully disseminate information and communicate (whether that be written, verbal, or visual).
This is one of the many things that attracted me to UMass Amherst from just my first visit: the state-of-the-art resources offered to us (in classes most often found in the Integrated Learning Center, or ILC). Multimedia classrooms in the ILC are complete with wall-to-wall Apple MacBooks, which have downloaded software for us to familiarize ourselves with necessary tools we will later need to know as a part of the industry. Seats in the ILC lecture halls are positioned in a circular pathway so that students face the teacher, which makes for more intimate conversations between the professor and student rather than just being spoken at. Certainly for any major offered at UMass Amherst, but especially for anyone interested in the mass communication career-path (advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, etc.), we are well-equipped and well-trained to enter any field come graduation, as UMass always prioritizes the success of each and every student here.
To see my complete project, here it is: