Journalism and Mass Communications

  • Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
  • Department Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Mass Communications minor

A student newscaster on camera A student newscaster on camera

Journalism and communications students benefit from a liberal arts education provided through a professional prism. By offering students the best of both, we teach them to think critically, communicate clearly, and fully recognize the role of news, public relations and other forms of media in a free society.

Journalism and Mass Communications

As the only accredited journalism department in a small, highly selective, nationally ranked liberal arts college, we are committed not only to broadening minds, but also to inculcating habits of honor, careful analysis, reasoned discourse and excellent writing in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic culture. Through our signature Knight Program in Media Ethics, we ensure that students understand the ethical dimensions of the decisions they will make.

The department’s demanding professional courses are taught by faculty with extensive academic and professional experience and achievement in newsrooms and public relations.

Reid Hall, which houses the department, provides students with an up-to-date technological environment that prepares them for working in multimedia communications. The heart and soul of the building is its third floor, home to a newsroom, TV studio and control room. There, students in several classes work together to produce The Rockbridge Report, a newscast and website that are regularly recognized for excellence by professional journalism organizations.

Since 1985, The Rockbridge Report newscast has showcased the work of journalism students who report, write and produce stories about the people who live and work in Lexington, nearby Buena Vista and Rockbridge County.

To make sure students are well grounded in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, they must take more courses outside the department than within. We offer two professionally oriented majors, Journalism and Strategic Communication, and a minor in Mass Communications.

The Journalism major prepares students to work as reporters, editors and producers of content in multimedia news organizations. Students may specialize their studies in the Business Journalism program, which prepares them to report and write about financial news and the economy.

The Strategic Communication major prepares students to craft messages for corporations, nonprofit organizations or governmental agencies.

The Mass Communications minor provides students in other disciplines with the opportunity to learn about professional values, theory and the practice of media, while honing their information-gathering, analytical and writing skills.

Opportunities 

Both Journalism and Strategic Communication majors are required to complete summer internships, opportunities that have taken students from Austin and Boston to Seattle and Shanghai.

Our graduates work as business journalists at Bloomberg News, the Boston Business Journal and The Street.com. They report the news for outlets ranging from The Mercury News in San Jose, Calif., to U.S. News & World Report in Washington, D.C.

They also are running PR and marketing campaigns for clients at the Grey Group, Edelman and Ruder Finn in New York. They devise communications strategies for nonprofit organizations such as a philanthropic foundation in Oklahoma and the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia. And they serve as top executives at firms from coast to coast, from Zillow in Seattle to FleishmanHillard in New York.

They produce TV newscasts for local stations in such cities as Waco, Texas, and in-depth stories for “60 Minutes” in New York. And they anchor local newscasts and national business reports on two of the biggest stages in journalism, in Chicago and New York.

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah

Department Head

Robin Grivetti

Administrative Assistant

News


Dee Baker Amos to Deliver Institute on Media Ethics Keynote

Baker Amos will discuss the evolutions of ethics in communications in her March 26 lecture.

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Kevin Finch

Professor Kevin Finch’s Documentary Set for Wide Release on American Public Television

‘Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery’ will begin airing nationwide Feb. 1.

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[CANCELLED] Former Washington Post Editor to Deliver Lecture on Politics and Journalism

Martin Baron’s talk will be held on Feb. 13 and is open to the public.

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Six W&L Students Awarded Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards of up to $5,000 to U.S. undergraduate students who are Pell Grant recipients.

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W&L Journalism Professor Featured in Online Publication

Blue Marble published a conversation with Aly Colón about providing balanced coverage of a crisis.

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Reporter Rachel Adams-Heard '16 working out in the field.

Rachel Adams-Heard ’16 wins prestigious business journalism award

The Bloomberg reporter was recognized for her work on investigative podcast “In Trust.”

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W&L Outcomes: Charlotte Dross ’23

Charlotte Dross ’23 is working in public relations as a postgraduate intern at Jackson Spalding.

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Laura Lemon ’16

Catching up with Laura Lemon ’16

W&L’s campus culture — from small classes to the Speaking Tradition — gave Lemon the communication skills and confidence to succeed.

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W&L Professor Leads Journalism Seminars on the Coverage of Religion

Aly Colón created and organized “Covering Faith and the Faithful” seminars for journalists in Los Angeles and New York City.

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Kathryn Young ’19

Catching up with Kathryn Young ’19

Young learned the critical skills to excel at her job from the veteran journalists in Reid Hall.

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W&L Journalism and Mass Communications Professor Selected for Prestigious Fellowship

Professor Dayo Abah will dive into leadership programming designed to support a transition into higher education leadership.

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W&L’s Avalon Pernell ’23 Awarded Fulbright to Germany

Pernell has been awarded a Young Professional Journalist Program Award to conduct research and gain career experience in Germany.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

JOUR 258

Beat Reporting

Using the community as the laboratory, students develop competence in the principles and techniques of reporting and writing news for online, broadcast and social media in a democratic society. Working on assigned beats, students learn source development, news judgment, information gathering, news presentation and time management. Work is published and aired on the Rockbridge Report website and newscast.

JOUR 202

Intro to Digital Journalism

Concepts and practices of news gathering and presentation in a multimedia, interactive environment. Combines classroom instruction with a converged news media lab in which students contribute to a website, television newscast, and newspaper.

JOUR 190

Beyond Google & Wikipedia

An introduction to information sources that academic researchers, journalists, public relations and advertising professionals rely on increasingly in the digital age to conduct scholarly research, report and write news stories, and to find, analyze and present research on trends in mass communications. Students learn how to evaluate sources of information for credibility and quality, while they strengthen their basic research skills to go beyond Google and dig below the surface of today’s high-tech world.

JOUR 220

Social Media Principles & Practice

In this course, students dive deep into social media, learning how to use it as thoughtful and ethical professionals, and examining its growing roles in society, politics, identity and relationships. Students get hands-on experience in producing news for social media by running a multi-platform social news service. They also learn how to plan a strategic social media campaign, how to use metrics to analyze social media effectiveness, and how to use social media in reporting.

JOUR 372

Reporting on the Economy

Reporting and writing techniques used by journalists who cover global economics. Students learn basics of the reporting and analysis of Federal Reserve reports, economic indicators, and data via the Bloomberg terminal and other resources. Writing emphasizes storytelling about people behind the numbers of the wealth and wage gaps, consumer trends, and worker issues in the global supply chain.

JOUR 344

Ethics of Journalism

A study of the moral issues arising from the practice of modern journalism and communications. Includes examination of philosophical and theoretical foundations of ethics, the place and role of journalism in the larger society, and moral choices in the newsroom. Topics include: First Amendment freedoms, privacy, confidentiality of sources, conflicts of interest, cooperation with law enforcement, free press/fair trial, photojournalism, and issues of accountability.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah
Adedayo (Dayo) Abah

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah

Department Head and Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Abah teaches courses on communications law, news media, crisis communication, and international communication. Her research areas include online anonymous speech, international defamation law, copyright issues, Nollywood in African cinema, women and Nollywood, religion and the media, and immigrant media use.

Curriculum Vitae

Mark Coddington
Mark Coddington

Mark Coddington

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Coddington teaches courses on digital journalism, media bias, social media and reporting. His research interests include media sociology, online news production, networked and participatory journalism, and social media.

Curriculum Vitae

Aly Colón
Aly Colón

Aly Colón

John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Media Ethics

Colón teaches courses on the ethics of journalism, poverty in the media, media ethics, and race and ethnicity in media. Previously, he worked for a news service, daily newspapers, public radio and a journalism institute.

Curriculum Vitae

Kevin Finch

Kevin Finch

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Finch teaches broadcast producing, announcing and documentaries. He was a large market TV news director who also covered 9/11 in Washington, the Senate post-impeachment vote on President Clinton and the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

Curriculum Vitae

Toni Locy
Toni Locy

Toni Locy

Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Locy teaches courses on covering the courts and law, news writing, in-depth reporting, multimedia storytelling design and sports journalism. She was previously a journalist for 25 years, covering primarily the federal court system.

Curriculum Vitae

Jared Macary
Jared Macary

Jared Macary

Assistant Professor of Strategic Communications

Alecia Swasy
Alecia Swasy

Alecia Swasy

Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism

Swasy teaches courses on business and economic reporting, media management and entrepreneurship. She previously worked as a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal and Tampa Bay Times. She is the author of four books.

Curriculum Vitae

Patrick Walters
Patrick Walters

Patrick Walters

Assistant Professor of Journalism

Mark Coddington
Aly Colón
Toni Locy
Jared Macary
Alecia Swasy
Patrick Walters
Adedayo (Dayo) Abah