Writing for New Media Major #MajorMonday
In today’s rapidly evolving new media environment, professional writers need to know how to develop and maintain content for print, websites, social media and mobile technologies. With this concentration, you’ll learn how to develop and manage blogs and social media campaigns, research and write effectively for multiple media, and implement new technologies in the workplace.
At Mount Mary University, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the English department revamped its curriculum to stay abreast of current demands in the workplace. The department now offers a new concentration called Writing for New Media, which teaches students how to used new media platforms, such as blogs, podcasts, Web videos and social media tools, to tell a company’s story and convey a compelling message.
The concentration combines courses in new media writing, creative writing and literature to prepare students how to write for current and emerging forms of media. Graduates of the program can seek jobs as media directors, social media managers or professional writers, among other in-demand careers.
Brittany Seemuth, a junior at Mount Mary, spent her first semester in the fashion program, but then transferred to the English department when she discovered her love of new media writing. “An English professor told me that I had talent,” Seemuth says. “Then with the change to New Media writing, it all made sense to me. While it is similar to journalism, it is a new transformation.”
Seemuth attended Milwaukee High School of the Arts, where she enjoyed two hours of arts education each day. “My background has always been creative so to go into writing answers that desire,” Seemuth says. “I knew I would find my bearings at Mount Mary. I was not as passionate about fashion, but I found my energy in composition courses.”
Seemuth is now the editor-in-chief of the student-led magazine, Arches. She says working on a student publication gives students real-world professional writing experience and an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t before they head into their careers. “In terms of real-world applications, we learn how to publish our own work, from writing to page design,” Seemuth says.
All students complete an internship as part of the required coursework. Former students have gone on to secure full-time employment at media agencies and publishing houses as a result of their internships. “It’s a good push to get real-world experience,” Seemuth says. “The professors help you find internships and can help us find what is available. Some students take several internships. I am planning to complete a couple of internships.” To help pay for college, Seemuth also works as a server in a local restaurant.
“I know I have to be committed to all that I do,” Seemuth says. “I am hoping for a chance to intern with Milwaukee Magazine or Edible Milwaukee. Then after I gain some experience in the writing world, I am also interested in teaching at the college level.”
“I often tell students that by the time they graduate, they will have a job that has not been invented yet… Career opportunities in social media management are out there. Our job is to teach them the skills they need to be experts.” Laura Otto, Associate Professor of English at Mount Mary University
Laura Otto, Associate Professor of English, chairs the English Department at Mount Mary University. She also advises Arches and helps coordinate the department’s internship program. She spearheaded the development of the Writing for New Media concentration and helped to revamp its curriculum.
“We knew we needed to make sure our students have the skills they need to secure employment in a media-centric culture, where technology and communication platforms are rapidly evolving,” Otto says. “The Writing for New Media concentration was developed to help students stay ahead of emerging forms of communication.”
Otto says that students in the Writing for New Media program learn how to take complex information and distill it into clear, concise and engaging copy. “I often tell students that by the time they graduate, they will have a job that has not been invented yet,” Otto says. “Career opportunities in social media management are out there. Our job is to teach them the skills they need to be experts.”
Otto hopes to attract students who are naturally curious and creative. “English majors enjoy learning about a variety of topics and are inquisitive about the world around them,” Otto says. “They also have a love of language and the written word. With this concentration, students have a unique opportunity to be in a field where they can be creative while learning marketable skills. In our new media courses, we teach students about the power of storytelling. When you work as a professional writer, you need to be able to tell the story of your company’s brand and convey that to an audience in a compelling way.”
Students who enter the concentration typically first take Intro to Writing for New Media, which introduces students to writing for the Web, blogging, developing a social media campaign, and producing interactive media, such as podcasts or Web videos. “Students choose a social justice cause that they are passionate about and create a campaign that identifies ways they could use social media to help solve the problem,” says Otto.
In the more advanced courses, students may create their own website or blog, and learn how to grow and promote it. In a course called Editing, Style and Design, students work collaboratively to create an online magazine from scratch. “The students develop the magazine from the ground up, starting with identifying the audience and choosing the name of the magazine,” Otto says. “Then they write and edit the content, take the photos, and design the pages. They learn about the entire magazine production process and how it is managed.”
A Cutting Edge Creative Writing class helps to fine-tune students’ abilities to write with precision and incorporate imagery and concrete details into their writing. The course rotates topics; recent topics have included blogging and flash fiction.
Students in the Writing for New Media concentration take advantage of a free iPad loaner program, where they can borrow iPads for the duration of their new media studies to assist with coursework. Students also serve as staff members of Arches, the campus magazine. As such, they have an opportunity to enter national and regional journalism competitions and travel to student media conferences.
“Every year, Arches staff members win a number of national and regional awards,” Otto says. “For example, we were recently nominated for a Pacemaker Award for our website from the Associated Collegiate Press. We are a small school, but we are well-recognized as a leader in student media.”
Otto also guarantees that students will graduate with an extensive portfolio of work. “We have graduates working as reporters, media managers and editors at major publishing houses,” Otto says. “One recent grad just purchased her own magazine and is now looking to hire our students as interns.”
Mount Mary fosters creativity in all its students. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or a business manager, a scientist or a counselor; it’s something we’ve done for 100 years.
To learn more about the Writing for New Media program at Mount Mary University, visit their website. If you are interested in attending Mount Mary University, visit their school page to learn more about their campus and degree options.