Thursday, April 9, 2009

Political Communication is integral to SMPA

Today's GW Hatchet editorial proposes that the Political Communication department be absorbed into the Political Science department, so that Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) can become a "premier institution" that is "free to pursue cutting-edge journalistic endeavors without marginalizing the other half of its identity."

This is one of the most uninformed and frankly, ridiculous, Hatchet editorials I've read.

Political Communication is a strong, nationally recognized program with a hybrid curriculum emphasizing politics, political behavior, writing, media studies and research. The SMPA faculty and resources provide Political Communication students with the practical skills to enter various areas of media, politics, and yes, even journalism. It's a major that is heavily based in practice, not theory. Theory is Political Science's territory. Just because the two majors have the word "political" in them, doesn't mean they teach the same topics. They certainly don't belong in the same department.

And if the JMC program isn't currently "leading the pack" in churning out the finest reporters, as the Hatchet claims, it certainly isn't the fault of the Political Communication department. In fact, the two programs benefit from each other. The School of Media and Public Affairs -- an accurate name for a school that was founded to educate on the intersection of media and politics, not journalism -- houses both majors for a reason. As a Political Communication senior stated in a letter to Hatchet:

What would journalism in Washington be without politics? That's right, nothing. Washington is first and foremost a political Mecca giving journalists a breadth and depth of content on which to write.

If SMPA is indeed simply "divided into two camps: former and current journalists teaching straight journalism and others who are more supportive of the school's political communications program" as the editorial suggests, it has been unbeknown to us for the past four years. Rather, we see SMPA as a power house educating students via a hands-on approach about political communication and journalistic practices in synergy.

Both Political Communication and JMC are in SMPA for these obvious reasons -- not just because of the "impressive building." The Hatchet should consider its editorial topics more thoroughly in the future.


Colby Anderson said...

I am so ANGRY! I go to bat all the time for the Hatchet on this blog, and then they go and suggest something as inane as making the Political Communication major under the department of Political Science.

I want to pull all my hair out!

Nick Fabiani said...

Lucy, couldn't have said it better myself. This is, as you've said, just entirely out of line. Unlike Colby, I have no bones about picking on the Hatchet, but this seems just...nuts! The two majors are so interconnected. It's imperative for BOTH majors that you get both sides. It's why we have requirements in both Political Communications AND Journalism classes.

This is sad. Whoever wrote and approved this is seriously leading the Hatchet down the wrong path.

Daniel Wolman said...

Well put Lucy. This was a ridiculous editorial and the points made by the Hatchet were flawed and lacking any substance to support them.

Farhan Daredia said...

My question is: who wrote this article? and is said person an SMPA student?

More comments about the Hatchet editorial can be found at their site:

Emily Berger said...

Insane. I personally picked GW and applied directly to the program as an incoming freshman because of this unique major. After taking numerous political science, journalism, and poli comm classes it's easy to say that journalism and poli comm are far more related in how they are taught than poli comm and poli sci. As you said, there's a huge disconnect between political theory and the hands-on, practical & new media-centric program in smpa.