Digital Journalism

UAF’s Journalism program has recently gone through some significant changes.


First, Communication and Journalism are now separate programs. That means “COJO” no longer exists. In addition, Journalism has changed its structure and focus. We’re now the Science and Environmental Journalism Department. The following are answers to some questions you might have as a current Digital Journalism major:


Why did COJO make this change?

Journalism and Communication can be similar fields, but the Communication program at UAF focuses on theory, while the Journalism program emphasizes skill building and practical application of those skills. Since each program has different goals, UAF decided they should be separate departments. Journalism majors often minor in Communication and vice versa. That won’t change. 


Why Science and Environmental Journalism? 

While many areas of Journalism are shrinking, Science and Environmental Journalism is an area of growth. More jobs in this specialty are being added every month. In addition, UAF is at the forefront in many areas of science, especially climate change. With so many stories in UAF’s backyard, there’s lots of material for students, making this change a natural fit. Finally, while there are dozens of graduate programs in Science and Environmental Journalism, just a handful of colleges and universities offer an undergraduate program, and none of them exists at a top research university. This makes UAF’s program unique.


But I’m a Digital Journalism Major. Does this mean my major will change? 

No. If you declared as a Digital Journalism major prior to the Fall 2023 semester, you are still a Digital Journalism major and will graduate with a B.A. in Digital Journalism. If you would like to change your major to Science and Environmental Journalism, however, you can do that! 


What about the course catalog? There’s a lot of changes. 

When we redesigned the program, we eliminated courses that hadn’t been taught in recent years. We changed others. All courses now use the designator JOUR instead of COJO, so that’s where you’ll see them when using Course Finder and other resources. 

Some courses changed only in course number or name. For example, COJO F323: Editing for Journalists is now JOUR F303: Copy Editing. COJO F251: Introduction to Video Production is now JOUR F307: Video Production. What’s covered in these courses is the same. 

Other courses have incorporated more significant changes. COJO F310: Reporting has been restructured as JOUR F301: Reporting Science. As a Digital Journalism Major, a reporting class is required, but never fear! The majority of instructional material remains unchanged. Just like Reporting, in Reporting Science you’ll dive deeper into research, interviewing techniques, writing and story structure than in News Writing for the Media. We’ll also cover ethics, Freedom of Information Act requests and beat reporting. Those things are the same whether you’re writing about sports, art or climate change. But in Reporting Science, we’ll focus on “the environment beat,” for example, and practice interviewing techniques for more complex subjects. 


What about required courses that don’t exist anymore, like Newscast and Extreme Alaska? 

This is an exciting opportunity for you as a Digital Journalism major. Because some courses have been eliminated, you get to work with an advisor to customize your degree. You’ll choose courses based on your interests and goals and, provided they add up to the equivalent of what’s required, they’ll count in place of courses that have been dropped from the catalog. Your Journalism advisor will work with you to submit the required paperwork for these substitutions. 


I still have questions. Where do I go for answers? 

If there’s something you’re unsure of or you have additional questions, please contact Professor Lynne Snifka (, Professor Charles Mason (, or Professor Jack Pagano ( We’re happy to set up an appointment to go over your degree and make sure you’re on track to meet your goals and graduate.