ASU dean courts young media-makers at SMC

In pursuit of higher-level education, Santa Monica College students often envision prosperous futures, but wonder how they can get there. As the dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, Christopher Callahan has witnessed firsthand the kinds of students who are able to see their dreams come to fruition. Kicking off this semester’s Global Connections Lecture Series Thursday with his lecture entitled “Immersing in the Practice of Journalism,” Callahan spoke about the future of journalism from a global perspective, as well as the opportunities for students at ASU.

“The number one thing is to be passionate about something; passion and energy are the most important elements,” Callahan said.

Callahan also said that aspiring professionals should be willing to go anywhere to attain their ideal careers, even if it means starting in a “small square state” like Arizona.

According to Maria Hesse—ASU vice provost for academic partnerships, who was visiting SMC with Callahan—the school has seen a significant rise in the number of transfer students from SMC.

In response, the university has created a guaranteed admissions program for prospective SMC transfer students, making SMC the first community college in California to be given this opportunity, and the only one that Callahan has visited thus far.

Callahan has been at the forefront of innovation in the world of mass communication as the news industry drastically evolves.

“The fun factor of journalism is as high as it has ever been,” Callahan said.

According to Callahan, a premium has been placed on journalists who can develop efficient ways to spread today’s news, and work comfortably within a wide array of platforms. He advised those interested in joining the media to set their sights on becoming “high level, high quality, multimedia journalists.”

Callahan said that although a lack of research and development in recent decades has hurt the business of journalism, young journalists now create clarity with modernization and creativity.

Journalists are no longer limited to the black-and-white text of the hard-copy newspaper. In fact, they are encouraged to branch into online resources, social media, videos, and blogs to reach the public in today’s digital world.

“At the end of the day, we are storytellers,” Callahan said.

The dean said that the Walter Cronkite School implements a “teaching hospital” model that places a priority on an immersive, hands-on experience. According to Callahan, the traditional, insular world of specialty reporters who work in isolation is a relic of the past. The new generation of media-makers will learn their trade in a collaborative environment, he said.

Callahan also spoke about the importance of integrating other areas of study within journalism programs. A journalism and business program has recently been approved, and Callahan said that a journalism and computer science program might be on the way.

“You must have the ability to be able to work across platforms,” Callahan said.