UAF Journalism
UAF Journalism - Tell Great Stories.


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

Frequently Asked Questions about UAF Journalism

Hey, didn't this department used to be called "Journalism and Broadcasting"?

Give yourself bonus points for paying attention to details. More than a decade ago, we changed our name to the "Department of Journalism." Our faculty members think that "Journalism" says it all. We are dedicated to teaching the principles and ethics of excellent journalism, no matter what medium is used: newspapers, radio, television, magazines and online.

Why do we have to choose a path within the major. What if I want to be a photojournalist AND a writer?

We are moving toward a single degree path reflecting the cross training expected in today's newsrooms. For now, our majors still choosing an area to specialize in: Broadcast, News-Editorial, Photojournalism or New Media. Each emphasis has its own required classes in addition to the six required of all J-majors: Intro to Mass Communication, News Writing and Reporting, Media Law, Journalism in Perspective, a professional internship and Extreme Alaska, our capstone online publication class.

Our concentration paths include increasing degrees of cross training. Students are encouraged to broaden their skills through choose electives in another area of interest. Thus, a photojournalist with an interest in writing might take JRN 311 Magazine Article Writing or JRN 251 TV Production. The department also has the authority to adjust concentration requirements within the major to suit a particular student's interests and career goals.

Why can't I take as many journalism classes as I want?
First, journalists should be well-rounded generalists, so you should study from other disciplines. Second, the organization that accredits us insists that you be broadly educated. UAF also has its own core requirements for the B.A. Thus, you must complete at least 90 credits outside of your journalism major. Of these, 65 should be in math, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. You can squeeze in a few extra journalism classes if you plan carefully. Some classes are cross-listed in other departments, including, for example, JRN/WMS 380 Women, Minorities and the Mass Media, or JRN/FLM Documentary Filmmaking. By registering for the non-Journalism section of the same class, taught by the same professor, it will be counted as a general elective or a humanities elective outside the major.

The program's requirements have changed since I entered the program. What should I do now?
You can choose which catalog year you plan to graduate under, beginning with the year you entered school. The graduation office will ask you to specify which catalog you are using and then will track your progress based on that year's requirements.

What changes are coming up?
We are always discussing ways to improve and update our curriculum. Employers tell us they want journalists prepared to gather and news in ever-widening formats. That's behind our ongoing curriculum reform, consolidating current specialty paths in favor of a large set of classes required for all UAF J-majors. From time to time, changing faculty expertise leads to special topic offerings, such as Pen & Sword: Covering America's military. If you have ideas about courses or changes you'd like to see, please talk with your advisor or any other faculty member.

What's the Snedden Chair?
Our students and faculty benefit from a parade of distinguished journalists teaching classes during visits as short as a few days or as long as a year under the auspices of the Snedden Chair. The remarkable program arose from a generous $2.6 million endowment by Helen Snedden honoring her late husband, C.W. Snedden, publisher of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner for four decades.

What's the deal with internships?
We prize teaching through real-world assignments. We want our students to have as much practical, hands-on experience as possible before graduation. All majors are required to complete a three-credit JRN 400 Professional Media Internship. Most students complete their internship at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, commercial television or radio stations, or state or federal agency press offices. We occasionally place students in newsrooms in other cities or states. Talk with your faculty adviser about what you would like to accomplish. We can work together to find a place that is interested in working with an intern while providing you with valuable experience.

Some internships pay students, and others don't. Don't feel cheated if you're not being paid. The idea is to earn credits, collect clips or airtime, while gaining on-the-job experience in a professional environment.

Don't tell your high counselor we said so, but most media outlets care much more about your practical experience than your SAT scores or even your GPA.

Internship requirements: * Work at least 120 hours. How you arrange your hours is between you and your supervisor. Some students work full-time during Christmas break, for example, while others work several hours each week during the semester. * If you already work in a professional media job, you may not use your job as your practicum. With the approval of your adviser, however, you may work in a different section of your employer's organization. For example, if you are a technical writer, you may be able to complete an internship as the designer of a house newsletter. * Write a short report describing your experiences. This report is kept on file as a way to help guide future students into the right internship.

Do campus internships count?
Students have the option of earning credits through the JRN 300 Campus Internship. This isn't a substitute for JRN 400, but it is a way to gain credit for experience gained through working for the Sun Star newspaper, student-operated KSUA FM-TV station, the UA Museum, University Relations and other media jobs around campus.

Are journalism scholarships available?
Every year UAF Journalism awards some $20,000 in scholarships. Amounts generally range from $1,000 to $3,000. Additional awards and grants are available through the university. Most require filling out UAF's single-stop online scholarship application in February. Awards for the coming year are posted in late spring. Journalism organizations outside the university, notably Alaska Press Club, Alaska Broadcasters Association and Alaska Professional Communicators, offer educational scholarships as well.

What should my minor be?
Choose something that interests you and helps broaden your journalism skills. Often our students minor in history, political science, science, business or justice as a way of "specializing." Many professional media outlets prefer employees who can work as business, health, science or political reporters, for example. Once you select a discipline, check with that department to see what paperwork they have for declaring minors. The graduation office will require a memo or similar form listing the classes approved for your minor.

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

Can I graduate with a "D" or "F" in a journalism class?
Majors must earn a "C" or better in all department general requirements, major requirements, and any other department offerings. That includes HIST 132 American History. If you do not make the grade in these classes, you must repeat them. Journalism minors also must earn a "C" or better in all the courses they use to satisfy their required 15 credits. What if I earn a "D" or "F" in my minor outside of journalism? You can graduate with those grades as long as your GPA for all of your minor classes totals at least a "C."

How do I get an "incomplete" for a class?
Sometimes students think they can ask for an incomplete simply because they didn't get around to finishing a class and turning in the work. If only life were so easy. In fact, according to university requirements, an instructor may approve an incomplete only under certain circumstances. First, the student must be earning a C or better. The student also must have been current in the class until at least the final three weeks of the course. Then an incomplete is assigned only if a student hasn't finished because of personal reasons beyond the student's control: major illness, a death in the family, and so on. Finally, the instructor must agree to assign an incomplete. If you do not finish the course
by a set time, it will eventually default to an "F."

How do I arrange to work at the Sun Star or KSUA?
These organizations offer students valuable experience and the chance to be creative outside of the classroom. The paper and the radio station are always looking for help. (That was a nice way of saying that usually they are desperate for reporters.) However, neither organization is directly affiliated with the journalism department. The Sun Star is a campus newspaper funded through advertising and student activity fees. Each year's Sun Star editor hires the staff. The journalism department encourages its students to work on the paper as reporters, editors, photographers and advertising salespeople. Journalism students in editing and photography classes often submit material or apply for positions both paid and volunteer. The department also supplies an adviser. A publication board oversees the paper's operation. This board includes the journalism department head, the adviser, a UAF student, the president of the Associated Students of University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a professional journalist. Also a student-funded enterprise, KSUA-FM hires its own employees and recruits volunteers. A media board is in charge of KSUA.

What are my chances of getting a job in my field?

How hard are you willing to work? Many of our students find jobs immediately after graduation, in Fairbanks and elsewhere in the state and country. A few begin working professionally before they graduate. Right now, UAF journalism graduates are working on the copy desk at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Anchorage Daily News, the Kenai Peninsula Clarion, at television stations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, at Bloomberg News in New York City... Our wild geese have spread far and wide.

How do I declare a journalism minor?
Journalism minors must complete at least 15 credits. These credits must include * JB 301 Basic News Writing and Reporting * JB 101 Introduction to Mass Communication. We have a form in the office that lists the classes you are taking for your minor. Consult with a faculty advisor to choose your courses and turn the form into the Admissions Office.

How am I supposed to keep track of all this stuff?
We are here to advise you and help you navigate through all of the course requirements. The rest is up to you. We understand how complicated it can all seem. (No, really, we do. Try explaining all this some time if you don't believe us.) Meet at least once a semester with your advisor. Generally, this is a professor from the sequence you have chosen. You may also be most comfortable with the person you've been consulting with since you were a freshman. Together, you will track your progress with the help of a checklist that includes core, general university and major requirements. Students may also find the degree audits available online useful tracking what requirements remain to be fulfilled.