April 10, 2020

Providence College Needs a Communications Program: Students Interested in Journalism and Communications are Missing Out

posted on: Thursday February 27, 2020

Graphic Courtesy of JWYG/Flickr.

 

by Margaret Scales ’23

Opinion Staff

In such a politically trying time, with both the left and right critiquing ‘fake news,’ it feels like there is no better time to support communications and journalism programs in higher education. Although some may argue that journalism is a ‘dying industry,’ is that something that we as Americans should settle for? Providence College should implement a communications program for several reasons, but more than anything, because it is what the people want.   

The motto of The Washington Post, one of the most renowned American media companies, states, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” At its core, this statement poses a cry for help. Freedom of the press is one of our constitutional rights, so as institutions like PC fail to incorporate the media industry in their programs of study, they are in turn doing a disservice to our democracy. As Americans, we are incredibly privileged to have this freedom, so rather than accepting its death, upholding the journalism industry is something we should urgently pursue.

The claims that ‘journalism is dying’ and that ‘there is no money in communications,’ are self-fulfilling prophesies. By failing to offer communications and journalism programs, colleges and universities like PC are leading contributors to that cause. 

When contacted about the lack of these programs at PC, Dr. Bruce Graver, the chair of the English department, emphasized that there has never been a communications or journalism program at PC. Additionally, he encouraged further research on employment and income risks for those considering a communications major.

On the topic of salaries—is money really all that matters? If so, what about the equally as historically low-paid education majors or dance majors, for example? What should matter is not only the importance of upholding the industry, as previously stated, but also attending to the interests of the students who pay on average over $50,000 each year to study at the College.   

Low and behold, the interests of PC’s student body specifically reflect a devout interest in communications. At PC, a major in communications is one of the most popular student-created majors, along with environmental science. Students like Corrie Traverse ’20 among others have already taken on the “rigorous process”—according to Peter Palumbo, PC’s director of academic advising—of creating their own degrees in media/communications and are currently working towards earning them at the College right now. 

As previously stated, students like Traverse  are not alone in their interests in communications—students’ similarly strong desire for a program like this has in fact brought to the surface discussion of introducing a minor in communications at the College in the future. According to Palumbo, “the rumor is true. There is a communication minor in the works.”

Palumbo also stated, “The communications conversation has been going on for a while.” This begs the question of why? Not only will implementing this minor appeal to the desires of students, but it can subsequently bring in a lot more revenue to the College, further begging the necessity for PC to bring about this addition to the programs offered. 

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