Frequently Asked Questions about UAF Journalism

TV Reporting student Grace Singh covers 2014's disruptive Interior heat wave. Credit:David Spindler photo/UAF Journalism

Why should I major in Journalism? Isn’t it hard to find a job?

It’s true that in the past few years, many news organizations have “downsized” and journalism jobs have been lost. However, recently the industry has seen a rebound and jobs, especially for journalists trained in multimedia (which is what we do at UAF), are finding many opportunities to thrive in their field. One need only take a look at the websites Journalism Jobs or Media Bistro to see that at any time, thousands of jobs are out there.

In addition, a degree in journalism provides a great foundation for a number of fields. Journalism majors are sought after for jobs in publishing, advertising, public relations, politics, government, entertainment, and corporate communications. Knowing how to write, and knowing how to tell great stories, will help you whether you’re working at the local newspaper or arguing a case in a courtroom.

Journalism used to have “tracks.” Why have you changed the program?

It’s true that until the 2013-14 school year, Journalism majors customized their program by choosing a track, or sequence, in “news-editorial,” “photojournalism,” “broadcast,” or “new media.” However, this system did not reflect the reality of today’s newsrooms, where a photographer might be required to shoot video, or a reporter might not only write for the newspaper, but also post a multimedia story to an organization’s website. The department’s “single-track” curriculum ensures a well-rounded approach, while also allowing personalization through required electives. If you like photography, you can customize by enrolling in Photojournalism II and Digital Darkroom. If writing is your passion, you can enroll in Magazine Article Writing and Investigative Reporting, and so on.

What is the difference between Journalism and Communication?

Communication is the study of rhetoric (public speaking) and interpersonal, small group, family, and organizational communication. According to the UAF Communication program website, “Courses in Communication emphasize understanding what happens in direct verbal and nonverbal interaction between people, as opposed to written communication, or to interaction via television, radio, or film.”

Journalism focuses on objective communication with a strong emphasis on writing and producing skills across media. Students interested in photography, video, multimedia and reporting news or creating and delivering persuasive campaigns should enroll in the journalism degree program.

How do I declare a major in Journalism?

You can declare your major in Journalism at any time in your UAF career, though the sooner the better! You can meet with an adviser to complete the Change of Major form or access the form here. Even if you haven’t declared a major before, you’ll still need to fill out this form to change your major from the default of “General Studies.” Next, you’ll need to get the form signed by your journalism adviser and the department chair. Then we will submit it for you!

How do I get an adviser?

Establishing a relationship with a Journalism adviser is easy. You may approach any of our professors after class, stop by the department during office hours, or call the Journalism Department at 474-7761 and let us know you’re looking for an adviser. We’ll set you up with a faculty member who has experience in the area of journalism you’re most interested in. You may also switch advisers at any time.

Can I minor in Journalism?

Absolutely. The Journalism minor requires 15 credits completed in the department. You must take JRN F101: Media and Culture (3 credits) and JRN F202: News Writing for the Media (3 credits). For the other nine credits, your adviser will work with you to determine which classes best suit your goals. More information is available here

You can also access the Declaration of Minor form here.

I transferred from another school. Will my Journalism classes from my previous college or university count?

Probably. Most of your class transfers will be handled by the transfer credit office at UAF. If you haven’t transferred yet, check out the transfer student website here. If your classes don’t transfer in the way you expected them to, meet with your adviser, who may be able to help you in filing petitions to remedy the situation.

I’m about to graduate, but a required course isn’t available. What do I do?

It’s important to plan your studies at UAF Journalism in advance to avoid this problem. However, in rare cases a class may be cancelled due to instructor availability or low enrollment. If you encounter this situation, meet with your adviser as soon as possible to determine if an alternate course can be substituted for the one you need.

I’m enrolling in a photography or video class but I don’t have my own equipment. Do I have to purchase it?

No. Equipment is provided for all photography, video and editing classes. Your lab fees pay for UAF Journalism to provide and maintain these items. You may be required to purchase a hard drive or SD card for storage of your projects for certain classes.

Can I check out UAF Journalism equipment for my personal use?

No. Photo, video and audio equipment at UAF Journalism is reserved for students enrolled in journalism courses. In some courses, you will receive equipment that will be “yours” for the semester. In other cases, you will have the opportunity to check out equipment for use overnight or over a weekend. If you have a specific need for equipment that is not a part of regular class activity, talk to your professor or adviser.

What software programs do you use in your classes?

The software platforms used in the UAF Journalism program change all the time. Some of the software currently used includes Avid and Final Cut Pro video editing software, the Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress, Audacity, and more.

Journalism students Ravenlin Sanford, Lindsey Von Borstel and Elika Roohi direct a live TV newscast in UAF's Minor Studio.

What Journalism classes meet the Writing and Oral intensive requirements?

We have quite a selection. Every student at UAF is required to complete two writing intensive courses and one oral intensive course.

Journalism Oral Intensive Courses:

·       JRN F371 — Digital Imaging

·       JRN/WGS F380 — Women, Minorities & the Media

·       JRN F453 — Television News Reporting

·       JRN F454 — Newscast

·       JRN F471 — Advanced Digital Design

·       JRN F472 — 3D Animation


Journalism Writing Intensive Courses:

·       JRN F302 — Reporting

·       JRN F311 — Magazine Article Writing

·       JRN F432 — Public Relations Techniques

·       JRN F444 — Investigative Reporting

·       JRN F452 — Radio and Television News Writing

·       JRN F456 — Science Writing for Magazines and Newspapers


Does the Journalism Department offer courses online?

Yes. The Journalism Department offers some classes through UAF eLearning and Distance Education. Our online offerings are expanding all the time. You can find a current list of Journalism eLearning courses here.

Are you on Facebook?

Of course. Be sure to “like” us for department updates, job postings, announcements and interesting links. You can access the page directly here: UAF Journalism Facebook Page

I’m interested in working for The Sun Star. How do I do that?

Writing or shooting photographs or video for the school paper is one of the best things a journalism student can do to get real world experience and build his or her resume. The Sun Star (www.uafsunstar.com), UAF’s student weekly, is always looking for reporters and photographers. Plus, you get paid for your work! The staff of The Sun Star meets every Sunday at 1 p.m. in the paper’s office. For more information, contact the editor at editor@uafsunstar.com

Upperclassmen might also consider applying to be an editor at the newspaper. The Sun Star employs a layout editor, copy editor, web editor, photo editor, ad manager and editor-in-chief on a yearly basis. Jobs for the following school year are posted each spring. For more information, contact the current editor or faculty adviser Lynne Snifka at lsnifka@alaska.edu

Do I have to do an internship? How do I find one?

Yes. An internship is required as part of your Journalism education at UAF. The purpose is to get you some real-world experience in a working newsroom and a foothold in the industry that, who knows, might lead to a job! Your internship should be completed during your junior or senior year, once you’ve got a solid base of skills you can use.

There are several ways to meet the internship requirement for your Journalism degree. Many media outlets across the nation offer both paid and unpaid internship opportunities. You may do either. The department will announce some internship opportunities via email or our Facebook page, or you may discover opportunities on your own. Applying for these internships is up to you. If you are unsure where you want to intern, talk to your adviser, who may be able to set you up with a local news outlet, such as the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, KTVF-TV, KUAC-FM and others. Your adviser may also be able to recommend an out-of-town or out-of-state opportunity if you’re available to travel during the summer. The goal is to have you work in an environment that mirrors your career goals.

Once you’ve secured an internship, talk to your adviser about the organization you’ll be working for and how to register for the credits required. You, your supervisor and your adviser will sign a contact that outlines your duties. Your adviser will then check in with your supervisor as you complete the 120 required hours of the internship. At the end, you will write a short report describing your experience and what you learned.

I have a question not answered here. What do I do?

Never fear. Our faculty and staff are committed to making your experience with UAF Journalism as exciting and hassle-free as possible. If you have questions, feel free to approach any of our professors or email them directly by checking out our contact page.

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