Interview with Erik Palmer: Digital Journalism’s Role at SOU

For SOU students who are aspiring to become journalists, SOU has a minor for those interested. The digital journalism minor can teach students who want a journalism minor while attending SOU. The Siskiyou interviewed the head of the communications department, Erik Palmer, on the program’s history and why students should consider going for this minor.

When asked on what exactly the digital journalism minor is, Erik said, “it’s a program or an area of study at the university and what we think is the best opportunity for students who are interested in journalism, but who are not already majoring in our concentration in social media or public engagement, to kind of pursue journalism studies.” Erik explained how this minor would even teach things such as PR, which is an important tool for companies in the largely digital workplace students will be entering upon graduation.

According to Palmer, long ago SOU had a journalism major. However, due to a low amount of student interest, it was discontinued. When Palmer joined SOU in 2012, he made sure to bring journalism studies back as a minor, due to core courses overlapping in other majors. Palmer had the goal to make sure there was a digital journalism option for SOU students, and making it a minor was a good compromise.

The courses from the major were kept due to how well they would compliment other degrees already offered at SOU. However, these degrees were not journalism focused, so the digital journalism minor was born. This minor would go great with majors such as digital cinema, Palmer stated, “because [students] will get great grounding and visual storytelling in film and video production that you get from digital cinema, but then they also get that little extra taste of the things that we do well on the SMP side: the media writing, social media strategy, and photography that we offer. Those kinds of things are great supplements to the digital cinema major.”

When asked if the major can return in the future, Palmer said it’s possible, but it’s something they would have to observe to see if the demand is truly there among students. Palmer suggests anyone going for the digital journalism minor to become a writer for The Siskiyou. Palmer said, “yes, I think that’s a fantastic idea for anybody interested in any kind of public writing.”

In closing, Palmer had this to say: “I don’t think we’ve done a great job of marketing the digital journalism minor on our campus, and it is getting a lot of visibility in other majors. So, I would hope that anybody that ends up reading this article, or otherwise encountering it, is looking for the minor.” Palmer suggests several majors that the minor goes great with, like “English, political science, or even business, which requires their students to take a minor. Those are all fantastic combinations, and with this minor you get great academic benefits from that, and also a great kind of practical skills benefits from it as well.”

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