Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media (SCM), newly launched for academic year 2012-13, is off and running with an inaugural director, Merrill Brown, at the helm, a new speaker series, and more.
Brown, a journalist and media expert, recently founded and served as principal of MMB Media LLC. Prior to that, he was a former business reporter for The Washington Post, founding editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com, and also instrumental in the launch of Court TV, for which he managed programming, marketing and business development.
He brings extensive experience in traditional and digital media, as well as journalism education to his role as director of the new school. (Read more about Brown here.)
Brown said the creation of the new School is timely, citing the recent decision by Newsweek magazine to cease printing and publish its product exclusively online.
“Traditional modes of communication are dying, new media channels are sprouting all around,” Brown said. “New media demands new training, new entrepreneurial thinking, and, most important, a new approach to educating future industry professionals. Montclair State University’s new School of Communication of Media, which merges the former Communication Studies and Broadcasting departments, and Filmmaking program, was created specifically to address the educational challenges arising from the changing media landscape.”
The School is the culmination of years of hard work by the faculty and professional staff. On the academic side, the curriculum has been reshaped to provide more flexibility for students while also addressing the industry’s new demands. Students are no longer restricted to courses within their majors. While they are required to take a common core of seven courses, students can then construct a course of study that fits their career ambitions. Undergraduates now have the flexibility to study programs in: Audio/Sound Design, Communication and Media Arts, Communication Studies, Documentary, Electronic Journalism, Filmmaking, Health Communication, Organizational Communication, Public Relations, and Television Production, while graduate students are offered an M.A. in Public and Organizational Relations.
But, the curriculum change is only the tip of the iceberg. All of the students in the program now have the ability to supplement their academic study with hands-on training. The School has established partnerships with outside organizations that will provide those enrolled in the program with the opportunity to learn about new media technologies from leading industry professionals. It was recently announced that the SCM will include the University’s Center for Cooperative Media and the NJ News Commons, both of which were under the Division of University Advancement. Students and professionals will work together to create content for other such partners as NJTV, and, to some extent, radio stations NJPR and WHGO.
Moreover, the centerpiece of the new school is the multiplatform newsroom, Brown said. It is both the headquarters and heart of the school's journalism and digital media programs, and it will serve as a command center for production and distribution of print, online, video, and audio news content.
In keeping with the School’s intended mission, among Brown’s first endeavors is the launch of a new speaker series. Brown said the goal of the SCM School Seminar Series is enabling more dialogue with the School and among the School's constituents and speakers will include "great thinkers, writers, executives, social-media innovators, and web producers," among others.
Brown said the series will provide students with direct access to some of the key movers and shakers within the industry, who will offer first-hand accounts of how to develop a media career and find personal passions, as well as provide a platform to discuss the state of the media industry and opportunities to build a professional network. (Read more about the new speaker series here.)
Brown said future plans include the relocation of the new school to Morehead Hall and the construction of a new facility adjacent to it that will also be dedicated to school functions. Currently, a committee of staff and faculty, under Brown’s supervision, has begun developing plans to make optimal use of the space. This includes modern "smart classrooms," lecture halls, multi-purpose rooms, research labs, computer labs, facilities for production, reception area, common spaces, lounge areas, equipment supply rooms, and loading areas. Construction and renovation are set to begin in summer of 2013 and Brown hopes to have the buildings ready for move in by fall 2015.
“While the upgraded Dumont Television Center and the renovated Schmitt Hall are the physical ‘faces’ of the new School,” Brown said, “it is the collaboration of faculty and staff in shaping a new educational paradigm that has created a program of study that is unique and one that better prepares our students to meet the ever changing demands of today’s communication/media industries.