Burriss: School starts at MTSU

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Classes began at MTSU this week, and hundreds of new students are beginning to prepare for careers in mass communication areas such as newspapers, television, radio, recording, or in one of the other dozen or so media programs the university offers.

Some of these students are here because they want to change the world. Others come to us because they don't know what they want to do.

Now there are some who contend we're simply a glorified trade school, and aren't really worthy of university notice. That's because there is emphasis put on the nuts-and-bolts, hands-on work of the media. Courses in writing skills, how to use a camera, and studio management, are indeed "trade school" like courses.

But an important part of our curriculum stresses the responsibility that goes along with the day-to-day job skills...and that's what sets us apart from the so-called "trade school" programs.

If you stop to think about it, for example, it really doesn't take very much too simply deliver the news. Almost any six year old could sit in front of a camera and read the news. But, there's a lot more to it than that. It's the responsibility that's hard to teach, and it's the responsibility that is so important.

Many of these new students are also surprised to learn most of their course work will be outside the areas of mass commun-ication. Courses in history, the sciences, math and philosophy are necessary before a student graduates with a commun-ication degree.

Again, we're trying to stress the importance of understanding the impact of our messages and the responsibility that goes along with the power of the media.

Communication today is too important to be left in the hands of people who only understand the technical side of the media. To be sure, those skills are important, but what our students are also learning is the mass media are part of our society and culture, and those powerful tools needs to be used with care and responsibility.

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Larry Burriss
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