Unique new graduate journalism program at King’s College

By Martha Troian

A new Master of Journalism program offered at University of King’s College in Halifax aims to prepare students for an uncertain future.

“Our world of journalism is changing really dramatically. It is really not an evolution —  it is a revolution,” says Kelly Toughill, director of the King’s College Journalism Department.

“We looked at the future and said really we see two trends arising,” she explained, “One, a need to be more clearly a different professional journalism from citizen journalism and two, the need to develop sustainable business models to support vibrant public interest journalism.”

Offered jointly with the Dalhousie University, this one-year program will offer its students two streams — one in investigative reporting and the other in entrepreneurial journalism. 

The investigative reporting stream will be led by faculty member Fred Vallance-Jones, guiding students to do very ‘deep and specific’ research.

“A lot of the investigative tools are extremely useful for people who want to do day-to-day journalism,” says Toughill, “It is not just for people who want to do huge projects.”

“On the investigative side it was to give people the best possible tools; tools they would not likely pick up on the job.”

Those tools include learning how to find and analyze public records, computer-assisted reporting techniques, including geocoding and data visualization, and specialized interviewing.

Toughill explained students who specialize in this stream will stand out from the rest.

When creating the curriculum for this stream, King’s College considered new tools available as recently as just a year ago to ensure to push the investigative reporting stream further.

The entrepreneurial journalism stream, or New Ventures program, is for people who want to be a successful freelancers or who want to start new media organizations or projects.

Students in this stream will develop skills and learn how to create business models that are necessary to be successful media entrepreneurs.

“For the new ventures side, it is to give people the skill and knowledge to create the structures that are necessary for the next generation of journalism,” Toughill says.

“It is extremely helpful if you have a bit of grounding — if you can apply the rudimentary concepts of business discipline to a journalism problem then I think you have the ability to help create the future of journalism.”

Toughill says that in the future it will be far more common to see journalists using their skills to developing niche areas or subjects as specialties and becoming self-employed.

With classes beginning in June, 2011, students will spend the summer and fall terms on campus.  They will finish their final term working on a professional project guided by a leader in the field.

Built around a core of multimedia and digital journalism courses, students will also complete one distance education course in their final term.  This course will be lecture-based on the topic of contemporary journalism.

King’s College is looking for students with strong journalism skills who can tell stories across multiple platforms.

This new program is specifically designed for students who have a Bachelor of Journalism degree, but there are a limited number of seats set aside for people with extensive experience in the field who do not hold a journalism degree.

Applications to the Master of Journalism program are now being accepted. The application deadline is March 15, 2011.

Tuition is $6,900.00 spread over three terms (summer, fall, winter).

For more information or questions about this program you can contact King’s School of Journalism by calling 902.422.1271 ext 159 or by email: kelly.toughill@ukings.ca