Multimedia Journalism Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Class Info

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What kind of job can you get with a degree in multimedia journalism? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses in multimedia journalism degrees.
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Studying Multimedia Journalism: Degrees at a Glance

Multimedia journalism is the skill of telling a story using various forms of media, including audio, video, print and the Internet. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth of online publications creates a need for writers with Web and multimedia knowledge. A multimedia journalism degree incorporates traditional journalism techniques with the trends and tools of modern technology. Your degree will help you pursue journalism careers both in front of and behind the scenes in radio, television, print and online news and information. With the degree in multimedia journalism, you will be able to pursue a career as a staff reporter, freelance writer, editor, technical writer or public relations professional.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this Degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level positions in journalism -Journalists wanting to learn multimedia skills
-Individuals with non-journalism degrees who want to pursue journalism
-Individuals pursuing management positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) -News reporter ($35,000)*
-Public relations specialist ($53,000)*
-Editor ($52,000)*
-Writer/Author ($56,000)*
-Director ($71,000)*
- Technical writer ($65,000)*
- Public relations manager ($93,000)*
-Broadcast news analyst ($56,000)*
-
Time to Completion 4-5 years full-time 1-2 years
Prerequisites High school diploma Bachelor's degree in any field
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Journalism

Journalism encompasses print media such as newspapers and magazines, as well as video and radio broadcasting. Journalists can cover breaking news or choose public interest and feature stories. You can write for one publication as a staff writer, or for multiple publications as a freelance writer. In addition, you can write for consumer publications or trade publications (which are only of interest to niche populations, i.e. birdwatchers or chemists). Journalists may also write blogs and books. Although people are consuming less traditional media - such as newspapers and magazines - they are still interested in getting information through online or mobile devices. Your bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism will help you address the changing face of journalism. You will learn techniques of traditional news reporting - ethics, investigation, grammar and persuasion - as well as how to incorporate these techniques into new media which includes online publications, mobile messaging and social media.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Electronic media gives journalists the opportunity for entrepreneurship; you can create and market your own blogs and brands without the intervention of a publishing house.
  • Students with journalism degrees can also enter the field of public relations, which was expected to grow by 21% from 2010-2020 (based on BLS data).
  • According to the BLS, editors who are comfortable editing for the Web will find the most opportunities.

Cons

  • Due to the formation of news media conglomerates, the decline in viewership of broadcast media and the decline in newspaper readership, you will need to adapt as audiences move from traditional media to online and electronic media.
  • It is a highly competitive market, and you will have to continually look for ways to keep and attract readers.
  • You may have to start out as a writer and build experience before editing or directing.

Courses and Requirements

Your coursework will combine journalistic theory and technique with electronic tools. You can expect to take courses in:

  • Ethics
  • First Amendment and journalism law
  • News reporting and investigative journalism
  • Magazine writing

You will likely have a chance to choose electives in Web design, broadcast journalism, documentary production and public relations. You can choose a course of study that will help you learn programs and software that help you design websites, create blogs and design layouts. You also learn differences between writing for print and writing for the Web.

Online Degree Options

It will be a challenge to find an online program in multimedia journalism, although you can find multimedia programs that offer classes on nights and weekends. You can also find several online journalism programs. Although these programs may not offer a concentration in multimedia, they will most likely offer coursework in electronic and online media, as well as traditional media theory.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

Complement your studies with experience that will make you stand out among other aspiring journalists.

  • Get online. Online publishing and social media tools are available to anyone; you don't need a degree to have access. Immerse yourself in blogs, post your video projects online and design your own website.
  • Become an early adopter. Technology is always changing, and you will want to stay on top of trends, which may mean trying the latest technology or social media application.
  • Learn various types of media. Although you may want to go into broadcast media, many TV news stations have corresponding websites that need content. You become more marketable when you can file a story for the nightly broadcast and then create an online article to go with it.

Alternative Degrees

Journalism isn't always about words, but also about images. A degree in multimedia journalism will likely include a course or two in graphic design, photography and videography. If you are interested in the visual aspects of journalism, you may find a degree in visual communication to be a viable alternative. You will have the same opportunity to tell stories, but you'll tell them graphically instead of verbally. Your program will include courses in photography, graphic design and illustration techniques. You can also find courses in writing and Web design. With a degree in visual communications, you can pursue careers in graphic and Web design. According to BLS data, the employment rate for graphic designers is expected to grow at 13% overall, and the employment rate in computer systems design and related services was expected to grow by 61%.

Master's Degree in Multimedia Journalism

The master's degree in multimedia journalism is an ideal fit for journalists seeking to learn techniques and tools to apply his or her traditional training to new age media. Individuals with any undergraduate degree can pursue journalism and become specialized journalists. This is common with science and business reporters. Individuals with an undergraduate degree in engineering or technology can pursue careers as technical writers with a master's degree in journalism. In addition, a master's degree may be beneficial for individuals seeking management positions in public relations or editing publications.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The rate of employment for technical writers was expected to grow at 17% from 2010-2020, due to the rate of new technological products on the market. Technical writers will be needed write manuals.
  • Technology has increased the opportunities for writers and editors to outside of major markets to work for major publications.
  • According to BLS data, the rate of employment for broadcast news analysts was expected to increase by ten percent from 2010-2020.

Cons

  • As a journalist, you may spend little time in the office, covering a wide range of news stories on-site. You can expect unpredictable assignments and unusual work hours. In addition, you may be required to cover stories in dangerous areas.
  • Many journalists, authors and technical writers work on a freelance basis and may have to make adjustments to their lifestyles to accommodate an irregular pay schedule.
  • Since technology changes so quickly, you may take the time to learn a new software or technique only to find that it becomes obsolete.

Courses and Requirements

Your coursework will include techniques in news writing, fact-finding and storytelling that are the hallmarks of journalism. Then you will apply those techniques to online tools. In addition, you will take advantage of video editing software and Web design software to tell your stories electronically. You will take courses in:

  • Ethics
  • Social media
  • Video production
  • Writing

In addition, you can expect to complete a cumulative project or thesis. An internship may also be a part of the curriculum. You will likely have access to media outlets through your school such as a newspaper, radio station or news channel.

Online Degree Options

You will find online master's programs in journalism, as well as a few programs in multimedia or digital journalism. You can also find multimedia programs that offer night and weekend courses for working professionals. Some programs are identical to the on-campus programs and include courses in ethics, law, visual communications and multimedia reporting.

Getting Ahead With This Degree

  • According to BLS data, 68% of writers were self-employed. Take entrepreneurship courses and learn to treat a freelance career like a small business.
  • It is common for writers to start small and work their way up to larger, more complex assignments. Build a portfolio of published clips. Include work you've done for other publications, including school and local publications. Some writers even write a few articles for free to build their portfolios.
  • Study other publications. Read newspapers, watch television and read blogs and magazines. Journalists and publications each have a voice or point of view. As you study other publications, you will find your own voice and which techniques work best for you.

Alternative Degree

Public relations professionals give journalists ideas for stories. They present information to journalists in the form of press releases or press conferences. Sometimes they contact reporters and explain the newsworthiness of an event or idea. It is not uncommon for journalists to enter public relations, or for a journalism program to include coursework in public relations. You can pursue an alternative degree in public relations. According to the BLS, the rate of employment for public relations managers was expected to increase at 17% from 2010-2020, faster than the employment rate for journalists or writers. Your program will include courses in PR writing and media relations. You can likely choose electives in electronic or digital media.

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