About the Department

Students graduating from Western with a degree in journalism should have a strong liberal arts background, skills in critical thinking and analysis, an aggressiveness in gathering diverse information that may not be readily available, and an ability to write clearly and reasonably quickly on complex topics. Graduates should be prepared to present this information to the public in a clear and concise manner, utilizing the latest in information technology. Graduates should have a sense of commitment to see that democratic processes in society are served by the timely disclosure of quality information to the reading, viewing and listening public.

In 1988, 1992, 1996, and again in 2007, the department was recognized by the Education Committee of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for "general excellence in newspaper-related education," and given unencumbered cash grants. Western is the only journalism program in Washington to consistently achieve this status.

The journalism department is dedicated to staying relevant in an industry that is constantly changing. A big part of this is keeping the department labs updated with the most current technology and software. During the summer of 2011 new iMacs were installed in the journalism lab and the software was upgraded in 2012 (Adobe CS6), allowing students to work with the same programs that the industry is using.

Student publications and their writers and editors consistently win the top awards in regional Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Washington Press Association (WPA) contests. A number of our students have been awarded scholarships by journalism organizations.

Department faculty combine professional and academic training and expertise. All faculty members have extensive professional backgrounds in journalism, as well as appropriate graduate degrees. They are regularly published in both academic and professional publications.

At the heart of the journalism program are its writing courses: newswriting, editing and design, reporting and feature writing. Students in all of the department's sequences take these courses.

Students planning a journalism major may obtain advising information from the online department brochure, department office, Communications Facility 255, (360)650-3252, by writing the department at Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9161, or karen.smith@wwu.edu.

The department offers three sequences, all centered around the writing courses, but each offering special attention in the area of concentration. See our graduation requirements for information about the news-editorial, public relations and visual journalism sequences. Individual course descriptions are also available and the course schedule for the 2012-2013 academic year is available on classfinder.

Majors and minors are required to gain practical experience on student media. All majors and minors must earn a specified number of credits, depending on the chosen sequence, from staff courses. The majority are required with the twice-weekly student newspaper, The Western Front, but one is required with the twice-quarterly student magazine, Klipsun. All journalism students can also work on The Planet, the quarterly environmental magazine.

Finally, majors undertake field internships of at least six weeks working under supervision in professional newsrooms, public relations agencies or other organizations appropriate to student needs and approved by the department. Typically, internships are during the summer but may also be arranged during the regular academic year.

Page Updated 09.12.2013