Skip Navigation Links
Front Page
About GNSExpand About GNS
CommunitiesExpand Communities
EducationExpand Education
Links Directory
Medicine & Science
Opinion/ForumExpand Opinion/Forum
Public Safety

Higher Education
Texas A&M University
News Release
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

COLLEGE STATION − Today’s journalism can be heavy on opinion and light on objectivity, but the resurrected journalism program at Texas A&M University is striving to change that trend by training future Aggie journalists to report the news without bias, says the veteran reporter/editor who heads the new degree initiative.

“Our underlying philosophy is we teach students how to put bias aside to cover a story. They learn to gather information, report it fairly and report both sides of the story,” says Dale Rice, director of the new Journalism Studies program, now underway in its first semester within the College of Liberal Arts.

Aggie students haven’t been able to major in journalism since the program was cut a decade ago. A journalism minor remained and Rice says faculty and administrators in the college began to notice a rise in interest over the years, leading to discussions of reviving the major.

“We went from around 20 students in the minor to around 80,” notes Rice, whose 35-year career in journalism featured reporting and editing stints at major Texas newspapers. “Students were saying they would prefer it to be a major. We were also hearing about students not wanting to come to Texas A&M due to the absence of the major.”

Once the decision was made to reinstate the major, Rice says the discussion moved to approach, which was determined to be a University Studies model, an interdisciplinary program requiring two minors – one inside the College of Liberal Arts and one outside. “We realized an interdisciplinary approach has great value,” Rice explains. “A university studies approach provides a rigorous and broad-based education. Students can find areas of specialization to enhance their appeal as journalists and give them special knowledge.”

This fall there are 19 Aggies majoring in Journalism Studies, 14 of whom were in the minor and switched over, says Rice, and five of whom entered the program as freshmen. “And we are still serving 50-plus minors,” Rice notes, one of whom is 21-year-old, Orange County, Calif. native Monika Laird, Texas A&M Class of 2016.

“When I found out that Texas A&M was bringing back the major, I was ecstatic,” says Laird who is currently a junior majoring in International Studies, but plans to transfer into Journalism Studies as a double major since the opportunity has become available. “I will have the majority of the requirements for the major completed by the end of this semester,” she explains. “For my minor outside the college, I would declare Visualization to get my graphic design and video editing skills down.”

Laird says her interest in journalism began in high school, sophomore year, when she took a photography class, ending the year with a photo essay about L.A.’s Skid Row. “I realized I loved investigating and going out into the community to learn about real issues and problems people are facing and then relaying their stories to the public. I realized the beauty of objectivity – as a journalist I don’t belong to a side; I’m open to hearing everyone’s opinions.”

Asking Laird about her career aspirations results in a variety of big dreams, including “international investigative journalist in areas of conflict, or working on sustainable development projects in impoverished or developing countries,” she notes. “I hope to intern with USAID and possibly pursue a graduate degree.”

In fact, an internship is required for aspiring Aggie journalists, says Rice, adding, “They have to put in 200 hours of work − it’s the equivalent of full-time for the summer or two days-a-week during the school year. So it’s a hefty dose.”

He says the college will be looking to build on the program by recruiting more students, advancing study abroad opportunities and internships, and forging partnerships with other colleges across campus.

Rice notes that students entering journalism programs today aren’t the same as decades past thanks to the Internet and social media, but regardless, they still need to be taught certain time-tested skills. “Students coming in today are very new-media savvy,” he notes. “And that’s great for us because it means they already have a good understanding of the methods people are using to communicate. What we have to help them understand is how best to communicate using those methods and how to communicate detail and complexity in understandable ways to large groups of people.”

He says he suspects Aggies, schooled in Texas A&M’s Core Values, will become journalists with integrity who practice the kind of journalism the Founding Fathers intended. “It’s important for our journalism program to supply objective journalists who cover issues that are critical to the state and nation,” he asserts. “The principles of free press given to us by our forefathers have not changed. As a flagship university, it is critical we play an important role in carrying out that mission and I’m a huge proponent of sending Aggie journalists into the world for that reason.”

Remembering Jim Guidry

Guidry News Service is headquartered in Midtown Houston.
at 4001 Fannin Street, Suite 4109, Houston, TX. 77004-4077
(409) 763 NEWS(6397)
© 1996, Guidry News Service. Duplication of any part of this website in any manner is prohibited.