The Iovine Young Academy and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism have partnered to create the News and Information minor, which will be open to all students starting Spring 2021.
The minor aims to help students rethink modern news coverage and equip them with the skillset to use new technologies in reporting, according to Laura Davis, a journalism professor who helped create the minor.
“I think there are students all over the university who care about the credibility of information and an informed democracy,” Davis said. “They might not see traditional training in journalism as the path for that.”
The curriculum emphasizes innovation in journalism and is the academy’s second collaborative degree, after the release of the health innovation minor with Keck School of Medicine for Spring 2020.
“We really enjoyed working with other schools,” said Patrick Dent, associate professor of technology at IYA. “We liked the idea of taking domain expertise and combining it with our material … The rest of it was really trying to figure out what are some courses rooted in the pedagogy of the Academy that would be useful for journalism and general students and then what are some journalism classes that are allowing non-majors to allow Academy and other students from the University to kind of see their mindset.”
Davis and journalism professor Rebecca Haggerty, who also helped create the minor, wanted to combine the curricula of both schools to emphasize the role of technology and innovation in modern media. The Academy’s human-centered design teaching and Annenberg’s reporting curriculum worked well together, and Davis and Haggerty launched a plan to advance the training students received in information-gathering and presentation.
“A lot of what gets attention is mis- and disinformation, and reliable information that our journalists are learning gets buried,” Davis said. “The main goal is to make them more effective in conveying information in today’s media landscape.”
The news side of the minor focuses on innovative engagement with various audiences, emphasizing particularly younger demographics, Haggerty said.
“Part of the human-centered design is thinking about … reliable news and information is so important,” she said. “It is important in our society that people have access to reliable news and information.”
The minor requires 20 units across both schools, including a new course, “Advancing Journalism with Human-Centered Design,” co-written by Davis and IYA Assistant Dean of Academic Strategy Matthew Manos. The course is co-taught by both Annenberg and IYA professors, aiming to combine reporting training with human centered design as an introductory course to the minor.
Additionally, students can choose from an array of courses across the schools to satisfy the four unit elective requirement, including “The Hacker Imagination: From Ancient Greece to Cupertino” and “Hands-on Disruption: Experimenting with Emerging Technology.”
“We want to give students the skills not only to innovate but to apply that to a newsroom,” Davis said. “It’s for the student who looks at the state of news and information in today’s media ecosystem and says, ‘I know we can do better.’”