Texas A&M University-Kingsville

New Graduate-Level Classes Latest Accomplishment, Success For Texas A&M-Kingsville Journalism Program

KINGSVILLE - May 21, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

This summer, the department of communications and theatre arts at Texas A&M University-Kingsville will offer a graduate course in journalism, with another to follow in the fall – the first such classes offered at the university in more than a quarter-century.

“Mass Communications Research” will be offered during the summer I session, running from May 28-July 2. In the class, Students will complete research projects on a variety of media topics, such as viewership, listenership or readership surveys of area media. “Hispanics in the Media” will be offered in fall 2008, and will revolve around researching the impact of Hispanics on U.S. media.

According to associate professor of journalism and student publications adviser Dr. Manuel C. Flores, the classes can be taken as electives toward a master’s degree in any field.

The graduate level courses actually were formed in the late 1970s as part of a master’s program in journalism, which eventually became a graduate level minor. Flores expects that the student and faculty support that reinstated the graduate courses will serve as the impetus toward bringing back the master’s program as a graduate degree option within the next year.

“We want to make Texas A&M-Kingsville communications and theatre arts programs—journalism, radio-television, forensics and drama—the best in our region, among the best in the state and worthy of national recognition,” said Flores.

“Working on that process will help us achieve our number one priority, which is to prepare our students to compete for jobs and to give them the self-confidence to not only apply, but successfully show their talents. We also want to create some excitement among our alumni to raise funds for much needed scholarships. Finally, we want to have a solid master’s program in journalism and communication.”

Flores noted that new graduate courses are just the latest steps the journalism program has taken toward meeting those goals over the last two years.

He cited student newspaper The South Texan bringing its former editor Adriana Garza onto its staff as a lab assistant in fall 2007. Garza also serves as a columnist for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and is pursuing a master’s degree at A&M-Kingsville.

“Besides being a true role model because of her expertise, background and age, she has helped bring cohesiveness to the staff. They look up to her, and she helps me reinforce the lessons.”

Another step forward cited by Flores is two successful years for A&M-Kingsville at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA) annual competition. In April 2008, journalism and communications students won 22 total awards, including a school record nine first place awards. In 2007, students brought home 29 awards from the competition.

“Hard work and self-confidence is the main reason for their success,” said Flores. “We provide the instruction. The students provide the vision.”

Flores plans to see future student success in a competition sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. The National Student Advertising Competition gives college and university students the chance to develop an original advertising campaign for a corporate sponsor, and present that campaign at one of 15 different AAF districts. Winners from these districtwide competitions advance to a nationwide final.

Texas A&M-Kingsville communications and art students, led by Flores and Todd Lucas, associate professor and co-chair of the art department, competed at the April 2008 districtwide contest for the first time since 2001. Lucas led that 2001 group, and brought the idea to Flores of re-establishing the student team.

“Todd was looking for an outlet for his graphic arts students, and I was looking for an outlet for my journalism students with an emphasis in advertising and public relations. It was a match made in heaven.”

This year’s AAF team didn’t advance to the national contest, but Lucas said their presentation generated interest from advisers who sought him and the students out to offer graduate school opportunities. “This was great. Our students got noticed as individuals, even though we performed as a team.”

Flores noted a renewed focus on preparing students for journalism internship opportunities. Those efforts have yielded students securing internships with the Seguin Gazette, Galveston County News, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the International Broadcast Corporation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, KCBS-TV in San Diego, the Nueces County Record Star, and with the sports information office of the Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs.

“A solid internship program, state and regional competition with TIPA, and state and regional competition through the AAF are the trifecta I had been looking for in our journalism program. We have those in place now, and it will make our students stronger and more prepared.”

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