Beyond the intersection

The UCIJAM rebranding provides students with the opportunity to shape the program as their own.

By Maroon Editorial Board

Career Advancement (C.A.) recently announced the consolidation of two of its pre-professional programs: UChicago Careers in Journalism (UCIJ) and UChicago Careers in Arts (UCIA) now operate under the name UChicago Careers in Journalism, Arts, and Media (UCIJAM). This expansion came to fruition after recent UCIJ and UCIA collaborations, which demonstrated a large overlap in student interest. Benjamin Waltzer, who has worked as a musician, freelance journalist, and music director, will oversee UCIJAM as the Klingensmith program director. As Waltzer transitions to Chicago from New York, he will be available part-time on campus, split between C.A. and the Logan Center for the Arts. While the consolidation of the programs may initially seem arbitrary or even discouraging to those interested strictly in art or journalism, both students and C.A. administrators should view this revamp as an opportunity to shape the trajectory of UCIJAM so that it provides the appropriate resources and career training for all students who could benefit from the program.

Through the recent expansion and rebranding, UCIJAM brings to focus the potentially interdisciplinary nature of journalism and the arts. Waltzer’s career prior to joining UCIJAM, which includes time as a jazz pianist and a freelancer for The New York Times, aptly demonstrates that arts, journalism, and media often do overlap, creating opportunities that are difficult to categorize as purely journalism or purely art. With the creation of UCIJAM, media-related fields like advertising and communications, which were previously managed by UCIJ, have a more concrete place in C.A.’s preprofessional programming. UCIJAM seems equipped to accommodate students interested in this cross section: The program is a partnership between C.A. and the Logan Center, and combines elements from both its parent programs. For example, the Jeff Metcalf Apprenticeships, which were previously only publicized through UCIA, can bring a new dimension of experience to students pursuing journalism.

In emphasizing the potential intersection, however, C.A. must not overlook the needs of students pursuing careers that do not bridge both fields. The program’s new focus should not affect students’ abilities to receive proper, industry-specific advising and relevant events, treks, and speakers. While the College does offer degrees in several arts-related disciplines, a journalism major does not exist, which makes C.A.’s pre-professional program especially important to aspiring journalists. Though nominally UCIJAM is built upon the concept of supporting the intersection of the three fields, the program must also support each individually: To lump together the three does not necessarily mean to compromise their integrity as separate entities.

The onus of understanding student needs should not and cannot completely fall upon C.A.: Students have a responsibility to provide input about how the program can help their own career goals. Journalism, arts, and media encompass a myriad of fields and career opportunities—so much that one preprofessional program cannot successfully address all without the knowledge of specific, individual interests. This could mean participating in the program—even with its potential faults—in order to offer constructive criticism that could help UCIJAM tailor future programming. Neglecting the program because it does not cater specifically to one’s needs only hurts all parties involved. Conversely, C.A. must be open and flexible to the kinds of changes, additions, and suggestions that students may raise about their experiences with the program.

According to C.A.’s surveys of the past four outgoing classes, interest in journalism and the arts is increasing every year. In 2010, four percent of respondents reported plans to work in journalism or in the arts; in 2013, approximately 11 percent of the graduating class planned to enter the two fields. In the context of this steady rise in interest, and the recent creation of UCIJAM, it is especially important for both students and C.A. to continue to refine the goals and execution of the program.

Sam Levine recused himself from the writing of this editorial.

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief and the Viewpoints editors.