The mission of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at The University of Southern Mississippi is to prepare students for careers in advertising, broadcasting, film, journalism and public relations and to foster an understanding of the important role the mass media play in preserving First Amendment freedoms in a democratic society and protecting those rights and freedoms in America’s diverse society. Because of the make-up of the USM student body, the faculty specifically recognizes the school’s opportunity to give voice to groups who have been historically underrepresented in the mass media, and the school embraces the opportunity to educate students who are the first from their families to attend college or are from demographic groups lacking representation in the mass media. In addition, the school strives to:
- Make sure students receive a broad liberal arts background and benefit from a mass communication and journalism curriculum that develops appropriate and current professional skills as well as an understanding of the ethical responsibilities faced by media professionals.
- Create opportunities for students to practice newly acquired skills and training in preparation for real world application through the Student Media Center and through internships.
- Graduate a highly qualified pool of media professionals who are ready to enter the workforce and prepared to make valid contributions to the profession and society at large.
- Support faculty members who produce important scholarly and creative work that contributes significantly to the academy and the profession.
- Maintain healthy relationships with alumni and media professionals through the school’s professional advisory board and other networking opportunities.
- Serve the community at large by creating 1) opportunities to teach individuals and organizations how mass media can be utilized for the purpose of empowerment and 2) service learning experiences for students and faculty to contribute to regional interests through the media.
- Promote the school, its outstanding students and dedicated faculty and consistently work toward the improvement of the school in terms of facilities, technology and reputation.
- Teach and routinely reinforce the professional values and competencies outlined by ACEJMC:
- Develop proficiency in the essential practical skills long valued by media professionals: information gathering; effective written, visual and oral communication; and production.
- Foster diversity and the coverage of diversity in the mass media in order to instill knowledge of, respect for, and engagement with the diversity found in the population of the area, state, and nation.
- Integrate knowledge of the evolving new media environment with the understanding of the organization and operations, as well as the historical, social, political and economic significance of traditional media forms.
- Prepare students for lifelong learning and advanced education as well as professional careers by offering major course work that amplifies the liberal arts education provided by the university’s general education core and by infusing the mass communication curriculum with the study of theory, research methods, aesthetic principles and ethical concepts.
- Create an open and diverse learning environment in the classroom, in student media, internships and other venues that foster critical and analytical thinking and stimulates creative activities.
- Cultivate understanding of the global dimensions of media and mass communication education.
- Promote media literacy and knowledge of mediated communication as essential elements of a university education.
- Foster the personal integrity that is vital to high standards of truth, honesty, fairness and clarity necessary for successful careers in the Information Age.
- Produce theoretical and applied scholarship for those who work in and study media institutions that adds to the understanding of the mass communication process and its effects, the media industry, the legal and policy environments in which it exists and the historical context from which it continues to evolve.
- Produce creative works that demonstrate and enhance proficiency in creative media practice, either as works of artistic expression or as creative projects that serve specific communication goals.
- Encourage the development of professional and creative activities through class projects, student media, student organizations and other means that contribute to public discourse that is crucial to a free and open society and enrich audiences by providing meaning, context and inspiration.
- Serve the media industry, state, and region through applied research projects, training activities and other endeavors.
Statement on Competencies
The School of Mass Communication and Journalism expects students to graduate with a mastery of the professional values and competencies established by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).
Graduates of the school’s programs should be able to:
- understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;
- demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;
- demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of groups in a global society in relationship to communications;
- understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
- demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
- think critically, creatively and independently;
- conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;
- write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;
- critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;
- apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
- apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work.