Student media credits should be worth taking

Jayce Kadoun, Columnist

 Either student media courses at CWU need to be worth more, or less of them should be necessary to graduate. Working for student media is an extremely valuable way to gain real world experience in the journalism field while you’re still in college, but these programs are flawed. They’re worth too little credits which don’t add up to the workload required of the students taking them.

CWU offers various positions in four different outlets that allow students to perform tasks like writing, editing, photographing and designing. For an entry level position at one of CWU’s media outlets, two or three credits is the maximum amount available for a quarter’s worth of full-time work. 

In the new digital journalism major, students are required to take 14 credits of student media in order to earn their bachelor’s degree, even if they’ve already reached the 180 credits needed to graduate. 

I took Running Start courses while still in high school and came to CWU with an associate’s degree. The credits that transferred from my community college to CWU qualified me as a junior in 2018, so all of my plans have revolved around graduating at the end of spring 2020. Throughout my time at CWU, I have taken a full-time load of classes every quarter except summer for almost two years. 

At this point, I would have more than enough credits to graduate if not for the media courses required of my digital journalism major. Some aspects of my work at the outlets have been beneficial, but I have had to work harder in these classes than in any other course required in the major. For the effort they demand of students, I believe CWU should consider how little these classes count for and the amount of them needed to earn a digital journalism degree. 

The amount of credits a class is worth should be determined by the work required in the course. 

Not only have these low-credit class requirements forced me to pay for another two quarters at CWU, I have also lost scholarship money due to under-enrollment. At CWU, under-enrolled students who don’t take enough credits are not eligible for some scholarships. This quarter, for example, I am taking four classes (two being in student media) which is not enough to reach the full-time minimum of 12 credits. The workload of these four classes certainly exceeds that which should be asked of 12 credits, though. 

CWU should mirror the way other universities treat student media. Seattle Pacific offers a journalism minor and requires students to only take a minimum of five student media or internship credits. 

In the journalism program at the University of Memphis, students are not required to take student media as a class.  They can still only earn three credits, but students have the freedom to work for the outlets that interest them and are better able to fit the work required of the courses into their school schedule. 

Oregon State operates similarly. They don’t make student media mandatory, but students interested in participating in student media have the option to register for Orange Media Network Practicum (a television station, radio station, newspaper and three magazines at Oregon State) in order to receive credit for their participation. 

CWU needs to rethink the requirements of the digital journalism major. They should take the workload of student media and the time it should take a student to complete a bachelor’s degree into account and change the structure of the student media courses to reflect that. CWU should mimic the ways other universities set up their student media courses and either make them worth more or be needed less.