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UM Journalism School Offers Narrative-Focused Master’s Degree

Photo by Kevin Bain
Photo by Kevin Bain

The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media has developed a specialized professional master’s degree to train journalists in the art of narrative storytelling.
The new program is aimed at helping media professionals improve their narrative storytelling across multiple media platforms. The new degree comes at a time when journalism is evolving.
“Journalism is changing so much,” said Joseph B. Atkins, UM professor of journalism. “The program is not only for traditional students, but professional journalists who want to raise their skills up a notch and also have the time to do those projects they don’t have the time to do in a newsroom today.”
The new master’s program was approved by the Meek School’s Graduate Faculty Committee in March 2013 and by the UM Graduate Council in October. The school joins a growing number of universities offering the same kind of course and programs, including the University of Texas, New York University and the University of California at Berkeley.
The core classes offered in the program are Multimedia Storytelling I and II, Narrative Journalism and Multimedia Documentary. In addition to those 12 hours of core courses, students will take 12 hours of electives, plus six hours devoted to a thesis project. The Meek School envisions four areas of emphasis within the new master’s track: media management, print media, broadcast media and branded media. Students would take their 12 elective hours in the area they choose.
The program benefits from the rich storytelling tradition found in the UM-Oxford community, which offers the perfect backdrop for such a program, Atkins said. The area was home to noted writers such as Stark Young and William Faulkner and to more modern writers and journalists including Willie Morris and Curtis Wilkie, the university’s Cook Chair of Journalism and a longtime reporter for the Boston Globe.
Meek School Dean Will Norton credits Atkins for starting the valuable master’s degree program.
“Professor Atkins has worked diligently to develop a program that focuses on advanced journalism techniques across multiple platforms,” Norton said. “He has used the writing workshop at the University of Iowa and other professional programs at elite universities to fashion a curriculum that will be taught by a faculty of gifted writers and editors.”
–Michael Newsome, Ole Miss Newsdeck

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