A new journalism program that emphasizes online and community news was approved at the May 15 meeting of the U-M Board of Regents for a fall launch at the University of Michigan-Flint. The program will be the only journalism degree offered by the University of Michigan.
“As a former Mike Wallace Investigative Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan, I’m proud to bring a journalism degree back to Michigan,” said Mike Lewis, who will direct the program. “A strong understanding of ethics and a commitment to community marks the new journalism undergraduate major program at the University of Michigan-Flint. I am delighted that the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences have approved this exciting program that will advance journalism in our city, region, and state,” said Interim Chancellor Jack Kay.The program will offer students the choice of either a major or minor in journalism. It will be situated in the Department of Communication and Visual Arts, within the College of Arts and Sciences. The program was proposed in response to student requests. For years, students in the media studies track of the communication degree program have asked for more journalism courses. Local news media, including The Flint Journal, have endorsed the proposal.
“It is important that we cultivate and train the next generation of journalists, and I strongly believe that a journalism program at UM-Flint would help meet that need,” wrote Journal Editor Tony Dearing.“It’s exciting to create a new journalism program at such an historic time in the profession,” said Lewis, a former reporter and anchor at WDIV-TV4 Detroit who earned his Ph.D. in media studies at Wayne State University. Lewis also reported for The Detroit News and Booth Newspapers, and did freelance reporting for the Associated Press Radio Network from the former Soviet Union. He is the former journalism director at Oakland University and is currently an assistant professor at UM-Flint and faculty advisor to The Michigan Times.“Instead of teaching students to work as newspaper or TV reporters, our focus is online journalism because that’s where almost everything is happening in the world of news,” Lewis said. “But we will also focus on the basics of covering community news, for two simple reasons: community news media remain strong, and the need for people to know what’s happening in their communities has never been stronger.” The program has been approved by the faculty and administration at UM-Flint, and the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, a nonprofit group that seeks “to advocate higher education as a public good and to promote its collective value in serving the public interest and the State of Michigan.”