Photo Contribution by Jeremy Vyn
On Feb. 6, Wilfrid Laurier University students received an email announcing the suspension of the digital media and journalism program for incoming students in 2023-2024.
Janny Leung, the dean of liberal arts, suspended the program due to low enrollment rates and a need to reassess the program.
The program will be evaluated “to see whether it satisfies the needs of our current students,” said Leung.
There is no projected date for when the program will return as a bachelor’s degree for new students.
The current 33 DMJ students will not be affected by the decision.
The email stated that the “decision will not have any impact on your academic journey, expected graduation date or accreditation.”
DMJ Associate Professor David Haskell said the decision won’t “affect anyone in terms of job opportunities.”
Incoming applicants who accepted the offer into the DMJ program were personally called by Leung, who “worked out a pathway for them to pursue their interests.” Most applicants were diverted into an english or user experience design major, with a certificate in digital media skills.
“There’s not going to be any loss of jobs,” said Leung, regarding the current DMJ faculty and staff.
Faculty members will teach in other programs and continue to teach current journalism students.
If the program is discontinued, “we could create options and certificates in journalism,” said Haskell. This would allow faculty to continue teaching journalism.
“We are just starting the process of reimagining what we could be doing with our current resources and people,” said Leung.
People are limited, as the DMJ faculty lost two full-time professors to the UX program this year. The DMJ program currently has three full-time professors, while the rest of the faculty are contract professors.
Enrollment is dropping as “full-time journalism jobs in general continue to decline,” said Haskell.
His hope for the program moving forward is “to create some kind of opportunity where we are focused on journalism-styled courses, but maybe with a more public affairs focus.” Public affairs jobs are rising and this approach could be appealing to incoming journalism students.
Celine Shamon, a first-year journalism student, says the program “can’t be so generalized.” Instead of having a broad class about reporting, Shamon suggested to “break it down into different niches.” She wants to see classes geared toward specific types of reporting, such as news or sports.