New degree in the works

15 years ago Comments Off on New degree in the works

A new degree is in the works at SHSU. The master of science in criminal justice journalism (also known as MSCJJ) is in the process of being created.

The degree is a joint project of Wes Johnson, Ph.D., associate dean for administration, college of criminal justice and Kuyk Logan, Phillip G. Warner Endowed Chair of Journalism.

“This is the first (and only) degree like it in the U.S.,” Logan said. “There is no model for it.”

Johnson and Logan came together to create this degree to provide an education that assists criminal justice officials in understanding the media and also for journalists to understand how the courts work.

At the end of September, Johnson and Logan hosted a “think tank” seminar inviting twelve criminal justice experts, journalists and college newspaper editors from around the nation. “There were some skeptics at the beginning, but after two and a half days sitting around a table everyone came together and were raving about the possibility,” Logan said.

“The seminar was an outstanding success,” Logan said. “It exceeded my fondest expectations.”

The seminar set the groundwork for the MSCJJ degree. The degree will provide graduate-level instruction for journalists who want to specialize in criminal justice reporting or editing, and for criminal justice officers or officials who seek senior institutional-level positions requiring significant knowledge of news media and public relations skills.

The individuals that participated in the seminar include Susan Bischoff, deputy managing editor of the Houston Chronicle and board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors; Bill Felber, executive editor of The Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury and national treasurer of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association; Jeff Ferrell, Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice at Texas Christian University; Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalism in Washington, D.C.; Reginald Owens, Ph.D., associate professor and E. Jay Taylor Endowed Chair in Journalism, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston; and Ray Surette, Ph.D., professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Representing college newspapers are Rachel Perkins, editor, Ball State Daily News, Ball State University, Muncie, IN; Cory Schouten, editor-in-chief, Indiana Daily student, Indiana State University, Bloomington; and Jeff Sklar, editor-in-chief, Arizona Daily Wildcat, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

The seminar was underwritten by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation of Oklahoma City and was held in the Criminal Justice Center.

“Now I am waiting for the transcript from the seminar,” Logan said. Once the transcript arrives, Logan will write a brief summary and provide a copy of the transcript to send to the seminar attendees and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Currently Logan is in the process of raising money for the degree. They will need several millions to start the degree.

“(The degree) fills a niche that exists,” Logan said. “There is a demand for reporters in specialized areas.”

The criminal justice department and the mass communications department will recognize the MSCJJ degree. This is not a Texas degree but a national degree.

“We hope that (the degree) may attract students from all over the U.S. and all over the world,” Logan said.

Logan continued by saying, “if we are going to continue to draw top notch faculty, we are going to need a graduate program in journalism which we do not have.”

In creating this degree, the journalism graduate school will be established. Furthermore, the current journalism department is not accredited. “Having a graduate program will help us look good to the accreditors,” Logan said. “This is not required, but is helpful in the process.”

Once the funds are established, the Regents of SHSU will have to approve the degree then the State Coordinating Board must approve it.

Currently the Dan Rather Communications Building does not have the room to house a graduate department. This is another reason for raising funds for the program.

The criminal justice department may have room to house the degree once it is established and in place.

The earliest the degree would be available would be 2005 or 2006.