The past few months have been a daunting, yet exciting challenge for the students and faculty members at Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
The need for well-sourced, fact-based journalism has never been more critical. With claims that false information spread via social media is threatening democracies across the globe, it is imperative that today’s journalists know how to operate in the ever-changing digital landscape.
Our students are up to the task. Here are some of their accomplishments in the last year:
- Capital News Service, the college’s student-generated news service, covered the Democratic and Republican conventions during summer 2016, the remarkable election in November, the inauguration and women’s march in January and a host of other stories.
- Five of our classes that collectively included 92 students collaborated in a remarkable package of stories about human trafficking on the eastern seaboard that won the “Best in Show” Award from the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence student journalism competition.
- Our urban journalism and business journalism classes collaborated on a series of stories with Kaiser Health News that outlined health disparities in Freddie Gray’s West Baltimore neighborhood.
- Another business journalism class produced a remarkable package of stories that resulted in the Maryland Attorney General filing a lawsuit alleging that a Maryland nursing home company kicked out residents to increase their Medicare payments.
As always, Merrill College takes advantage of its location inside the Washington Beltway and the remarkable talents of its faculty.
In these challenging times, we know there are essential enduring values of any professional journalist grounded in a profound understanding of media ethics, law, history, research methods as well as the latest new technologies. Strong writing skills, critical thinking and meeting deadlines are the foundational skills that will always matter. However, our faculty also needs to prepare our students to consider questions like:
- If a public official provides false information, should a headline call them a liar?
- How should journalists handle being labeled “the opposition party” by White House officials?
- How much “fake news” is really out there?
American journalists are facing the biggest challenges in several generations. We relish the chance to prepare the next generation of fearless journalists.