What Happened to the “J”?

Tess Curran | Teacher’s Assistant | tcurran3@mail.smcvt.edu

In May 2023, I will be proudly graduating from St. Michael’s College with a Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts (MJD) degree – even though this major no longer exists. 

Let me explain. I came to St. Michael’s College as a Psychology major but after a year and two weeks, to be exact, I switched to MJD after a friend of mine shared her experience with the major. 

 I was drawn to MJD because of the Journalism aspect in particular. The first MJD class I took was the Reporting For Media class where I got to write for The Defender. Classes like that piqued my interest in a career in journalism.  

Being in this major has allowed me to explore different aspects of the media world that I hadn’t before, such as film and photography. I was able to grow in my major and figure out what I wanted to do. 

I was excited to be a journalist and felt like the department understood that. 

Then, in the Spring of 2023, MJD majors were told that the department would be changing the name to something that included communications. The department settled on Digital Media and Communication (DMC). I was disappointed because the part of the major that I had come to love felt like it was being pushed aside. 

On the website, the department says that it changed the name because it “better illustrates what we do and have always done to prepare our students to use communications technology effectively beyond Saint Michael’s.” 

This change didn’t sit well with a lot of MJD students, especially seniors who had experienced four years as an MJD major and were now being reduced to a communications major. Communications being in the title does not accurately represent the work of our major. 

I didn’t feel like a communications major, I was a journalism major. All the work I had put into this major was being summed up as “communications” even though I had never taken a communications class until this semester. 

With graduation on the horizon, I knew I had a decision to make. I could graduate with the new major title or request for my diploma to have the original MJD title. As a first-generation college student, I wanted my diploma to show all the work I had done. DMC does not capture that. 

The drop of the “J” in the name is disheartening. A lot of my friends in this major joined because of that “J”.  Some people may think that journalism is going extinct, especially with the updates in technology and artificial intelligence. I disagree. 

The Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major has shown me that we will always need someone to report the truth. Due to lessons like that and the journey I have had at this school, I will be graduating as a Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major. 

Hopefully the “J” will return to this department one day but through the classes we take and the professors who teach us we will continue to learn the importance of journalism.