Looking Forward: UVa’s New Center for Media and Citizenship

Courtesy: Center for Media and Citizenship

The Department of Media Studies and the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have created The Center for Media and Citizenship to benefit those who have a passion for journalism and civic life and are eager to become more informed in matters such as the role of the government in the media.

“One goal of the center is to help showcase the highest level of student journalism, both in story form and in public affairs productions,” says Wyatt Andrews, former CBS News Bureau Chief in Washington D.C. and now professor at UVa in the Department of Media Studies, “Mr. Jefferson thought the informed citizen was the republic’s best protection, and developing strong writers and journalists to cover what’s important, not just what’s popular, is necessary to overcome the mindless distractions we face as news moves online.”

The new media center is an important step for the Department of Media Studies because the University does not currently have a journalism school. Coy Barefoot, the lead instructor of the new center, thinks the organization will be a great way for those interested in the press and democracy to receive more personal experience.

“As a journalist and as an alumnus, I am so proud of the University for supporting this historic initiative,” Barefoot says, “and I am so sincerely honored to be a part of it. There is exciting and important work to be done, and I encourage interested students to reach out, learn more, and get involved.”

The Center is planning on launching several programs that enhance students’ understanding of how the press and democracy work together. One event on the Center’s agenda for next fall is to hold a speaker series where nationally recognized professionals will share advice with current students.

In an initiative to get more students involved, the center will be hosting an annual academic conference as well. Students will have the opportunity to work with and learn from experienced professionals from a wide range of different fields. The center will also offer internships to teach students more about the mechanics behind video and written journalism.

Aside from these large-scale events, students will also be able to interact with professionals through informal meetings held on-grounds, allowing them to participate in deeper and more personal conversations about matters such as: law, government, media, and education. The idea of these meetings is to help broaden students’ knowledge of citizenship and self-governance.

“The work of the Center is inspired by a deeply Jeffersonian vision that the University of Virginia should create informed, engaged citizen leaders,” Barefoot says, “Our pedagogical mission is to help our students think critically about media and journalism, to give them the technical skills to create their own media on a variety of platforms, and inspire them to preserve and strengthen the ideals of our constitutional democracy.”

Of course, the Center will also be offering more practical journalism-based classes. “Journalism and Reporting,” taught by Coy Barefoot, will focus on journalism in the Charlottesville area and will allow students to learn outside of the classroom as they receive hands-on experience with television, radio, and print through real media outlets off-Grounds.

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