Department of Communication and Media Studies Introduces New Curriculum

Department of Communication and Media Studies Introduces New Curriculum

Assistant Professor Uriahs Togar, Charmain of the Department of Communication and Media Studies
Assistant Professor Uriahs Togar, Charmain of the Department of Communication and Media Studies

Following a rigorous process, the Department of Communication and Media Studies (formerly Mass Communication Department) of the University of Liberia (UL) has developed a new curriculum which introduces new courses that will encourage specialized journalism training for Mass Communication students as part of its contributions in helping to develop the media in Liberia.

Speaking recently at a special edition of the Edward Wilmot Blyden Forum organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and Volunteers for Sustainable Development in Africa (VOSIEDA), Assistant Professor Euriahs Togar, Chairman of the department, said his unit is now approaching programs from a perspective of specialization. “We’re now trying to add some value to their degrees. So we’re introducing, for example, investigative reporting which all of us here will agree is very important,” he said, adding that  several other areas of specialization are being introduced in the new curriculum for Mass Communication students at UL.

According to him, these are a few steps taken by the university to help develop the media in Liberia because if society is ignorant due to a dysfunctional media, everyone will tend to be in trouble.

He said the university is striving to reactivate a certificate and diploma program in journalism and public relations, noting that the university ran such a program before the civil war.

“We realize that most of the journalists practicing in the media whose products we all consume and the public consume are not in the university; for different reasons cannot enter the university. Some of them because they feel they are aged already, four years, five years to go to the classroom is unthinkable for a lot of them, 

“So we’re introducing a certificate program in journalism that will last for at least six months and we’re moving it from Fendall because we realize that Fendall is a challenge for a lot of people. So we’re bringing that program to Capitol Hill since we will be dealing with working professionals…, the same in the area of public relations,” he continued.

As the department or institution that trains most of Liberia’s journalists, Prof. Togar noted that it takes these realities very, very seriously, recalling a recent comment by the European Union’s envoy to Liberia specifically regarding bad journalism.

Prof. Togar said the performance of the media has been under scrutiny for some time now and “the reality is beginning to dawn on all of us that the media needs to rebrand itself.”

He noted that a few months ago, a Fulbright Professor who visited the Mass Communication Department at UL helped the department to review and bring changes to its curriculum.

He said research was undertaken and they are still working on that report to hopefully publish it in an international journal. However, Prof. Togar said on visual inspection of the data, it is clear that public perception of the media is very, very low. Consequently, he said the department is pleased to partner with VOSIEDA and the PUL in building the media’s capacity.

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