CSJMM’s new course descriptions

All students will take these courses:

Media Law and Ethics

One part of this course will focus on freedom of expression and limits to freedom of expression in a democratic society. Freedom of expression will be discussed in light of the case law of the US Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights, and Georgian courts. The second part of this course examines ethical issues in the Georgian and Western media, along with the codes of ethics formulated by various media outlets. Students will discuss and analyze the ethical situation in regional media.

Basic Reporting and Writing

This course will introduce students to the reporting and writing, for print and web and to the principles of good journalistic practice. Students will study and refine their interviewing, researching, and writing skills as they report in and around Tbilisi. The course will emphasize accuracy, objectivity, and critical-thinking skills. Students, successfully completing this course, will be able to report and write clear, precise, and well-organized news and feature stories, editorials, analysis pieces, and columns.

Advanced Reporting and Writing

Students will learn to report and write quality, in-depth stories that include information from multiple sources, documents and databases. They will report on two of the following four “beats”—politics, business, diversity, or conflict.

Mass Communication Theories

This course covers major theories of mass communication and it explains the role of all elements involved in the mass communication process. It helps students understand the nature of mass communications. Concepts of “mass” and “mass society” are also discussed in detail.

Research Methods

This is a course designed to introduce you to academic-quality social science research practices as conducted by mass communication scholars. It includes a focus on sampling, survey design and implementation, experimental design, and quantitative content analysis. It also reviews qualitative research methods of mass communication.

Visual Communication

There are two sections to this course: photojournalism and information graphics. You will gain an understanding of graphical communication. You will learn the skills, methods and processes that form the knowledge of communicating through graphical imagery. You will also learn about the efficiency and effectiveness of graphical communication and its ever-increasing use in our information society. You will also learn how to use a camera to report the news about people living in the immediate vicinity of GIPA for people living near GIPA.

Broadcast Journalism Basics

Students learn how to interview, gather natural sound, pick the best sound-bites, and use the video camera. They learn how to edit sound and video and structure an audio or video story. They learn how to create the critical relationship between story structure and visual structure.

Web 2.0 –Journalism and Programming

During the course students will explore and understand a core principles of Web 2.0 – the latest generation of World Wide Web.  This practical course will provide them with knowledge and skills for creating interactive, simultaneous and user-generated content using blogs, wikis, web applications, video sharing and social networking sites.

Academic Writing

Students will learn the rules of academic writing, such as generating ideas for a topic, developing a purpose, considering an audience, structuring an essay, and avoiding plagiarism. In addition, students will gain an understanding of how to find the sources you need to conduct a literature review, how to analyze and synthesize the information in those sources, and how to write an integrative literature review.

Media Management Basics

The course is designed to provide students instructions on the fundamentals in successfully managing and operating a media business. It covers concepts relating to management theory, personnel motivation, organizational communication, and management’s relationship to various aspects of organizational operation.

Media Entrepreneurship

The course covers the fundamentals of strategic management and introduces students to the basics of entrepreneurship. It blends instructions in general entrepreneurship using recent news and communication startups as case studies for applying entrepreneurial principles. Students will identify, develop and pitch ideas for media businesses; Local entrepreneurs will meet with the class to discuss strategies

Students in the Journalism Track will take these four courses:

Journalism 2.0 – Journalism Content Development and Interactivity

This course will provide students with understanding of contests and transformations that World Wide Web and digital uprising brings for journalists.  During the course students will learn how to deal with a rapidly chaining environment and practice effective technics of mixed-media storytelling. They will be afforded with knowledge and skills for creating multimedia content.

Visual storytelling (video production advance)

The course concentrates on storytelling tools for video journalists and documentary filmmakers who want to create powerful and engaging stories. The focus is both on story basics/structure and on their visual aspects. Students learn to tell their stories by primarily visual means. They learn about shots and their relationship with each other.

Multimedia reporting/convergent production

This is a hands-on practical course that concentrates on different stages of multimedia reporting in a real convergent newsroom. It combines and develops skills gained during previously taught journalism courses (Reporting 1,2; TV, Radio, Journalism 2 and web 2). Students create, produce and distribute the same stories on a different media platforms simultaneously.

Documentary Film Making

This course sharpens students’ research, visual storytelling, and production skills. Students will work as a one-person unit in the field – a journalist who is able to find a story, conduct an initial research, write a proposal, pitch it, and then produce a short documentary.

Students in the Media Management Track will take these four courses:

Media Content Management

This course covers concepts of evaluating, selecting, promoting, distributing, and marketing media content. Overviewing the historical theories and business practices of programming that still form the foundation of many media enterprises, the class focuses on the emergent forces in the digital media environment that have dramatically altered media business structures.

Media Sales

The course introduces students to the principles of media selling with an emphasis on ethics and including selling online advertising; students will be prepared for selling and sales management jobs at a time when media companies are cutting back in many areas except sales and where jobs are increasing, especially in the online medium.

Media Marketing

This course provides a broad understanding of marketing activities and decisions. Within the integrated marketing communications paradigm, several traditional and emerging forms of marketing communications will be discussed with an understanding that all marketing efforts of media firms should serve establishing healthy relationships with audiences, advertisers and stakeholders.

Media Economics

The course introduces concepts of fiscal problems in operation of broadcast media industries, with special emphasis on economics and financial policies. Topics that will be covered include economics of audiences and advertisers, capital markets and money flows, mergers and acquisitions, financial management, human recourses management.

All students will complete a practical project and a research paper.

Media Management Project or Multimedia Journalism Project

Media Management Master’s projects are media business development or problem-solving experiences conducted by the student as a capstone of their academic programs at the Caucuses School of Journalism and Media Management. OR Journalists are now expected to work across a range of publishing and broadcast platforms to deliver news and information. If students failed to achieve any of the program learning outcomes after taking the other courses in the MA program, this course helps them to remedy those problems. This course also helps students build a portfolio that showcases their ability to work as multimedia journalists. It also helps students to create an individual identity—or brand—for the market.

Master’s Research Paper

Students must complete a final research paper as part of their Master’s program. They must review the literature, identify an appropriate theory, collect data, analyze that data, and make appropriate conclusions.


Changes in the curriculum

• Instead of a MA degree in “Journalism and Media Management,” we have a MA degree in Journalism, and students may choose a Media Management track (4 courses) or a Multimedia Journalism track (4 courses).

• Instead of a shorter Fall semester and a longer Spring semester, we have an equal number of weeks (14) in the Fall and Spring semesters as well as a Summer semester.

• Instead of staggered starting times for courses, all courses begin and end on the same date.

• Instead of relying heavily upon adjunct professors, and their scheduling needs , we use our own faculty to teach most of the courses, which enables us to create a 2-year calendar of when courses will be offered.

• Instead of offering most courses in the 2nd and 3rd semesters, we have a more even distribution of courses over the 2-year MA program.

• Instead of a required 8 ECTS internship, we have an elective 2 ECTS internship.

• Instead of a 25 ECTS final project, we have a 10 ECTS final project and a 15 ECTS final research paper.

• We added pre-requisites to several courses so that students took the most advanced courses at the end of their degree program.

• We dropped the following courses: “Georgian Writing Techniques (elective)” “English,” “Internet Technologies,” “Principles of Democracy,” “Economics and Public Finances,” “Presentation of Survey Data,” “Public Opinion,” and “Internet Technologies.”

• We added several courses (see complete set of course descriptions in a blog soon).

• Most important, perhaps, we created a program for “multimedia journalists” rather than offering courses in “Radio Reporting,” “Television Reporting,” “Photo Reporting,” “Print (article) Reporting,” and so on. The new program prepares students to work on the Web, not for various independent media. Moreover, we help students become successful with Web 2.0; we emphasize interactivity as well as production and editing.

The process for revising the curriculum for the MA—Journalism degree

We worked for five months.

Of course, whenever someone makes a statement, especially a statement that contains numbers, one needs a basis for comparison in order to interpret the statement. So, is five months a long time or a short time? I say it is a remarkable brief amount of time because it has taken the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina 3 years to revise its undergraduate curriculum.

The faculty collectively made the decisions.

This means that we didn’t break into committees in order to be more efficient. In general meetings, each person presented her views (I was the only male). Oftentimes we presented our views passionately. At times I was tooooooo “passionate,” and I apologize for raising my voice. But we cared. This also means that the administration, i.e. the dean, Baadur Koplatadze, did not intervene. Again, to understand such statements one needs some context. I would say that it is quite remarkable that faculty governance ruled supreme, and that signs of authoritarianism were absent.

We learned some lessons.

Of course we would do some things differently next time. Who are satisfied with their first efforts? Next time, I would begin by learning the requirements of the country’s Ministry or other administrative unit governing education. I would make sure that I completely understood every single requirement, and I would not trust the government’s websites; instead I would interview an official at the beginning of the process of revising the curriculum. Thanks to Tamuna Gabisonia, we did check with the Ministry of Education, but, through no fault of Tamuna’s, not right at the beginning. Next time, I would strongly impress upon the faculty the need to follow the sample syllabus precisely. Tamuna Gabisona (thanks, again) had provided a sample syllabus to all of the faculty, but, unfortunately, the faculty had to revise their syllabuses multiple times in order to meet the Ministry’s requirements.

We did at least two things right.

I share the following in the interest of helping others rather than bragging about our success. We balanced the interests of our (current) faculty, with the (past) identity of our school, with our current (and future) students’ needs, and with the (idealistic) expectations of the Ministry of Education. What does that mean? In brief, it means that we struck a balance between skills-oriented practical training in journalism and a more research-oriented master’s degree program. We also began the curriculum review process by revising the program’s mission statement; then we created program-level learning outcomes; then we created courses; and finally we created course-level learning outcomes. In fact, there were 20 steps in our action plan (one more time, thank you Tamuna Gabisonia), which I wrote about in an earlier blog.

Good luck to all schools of journalism and mass communication as they revise their curriculums to meet the future needs of students entering a rapidly changing media market!

Gulchin Seyidova serves as liaison to CSJMM

Gulchin Seyidova; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Victoria Sloan, the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, recently assigned Gulchin Seyidova to supervise the collaboration between the embassy and the CSJMM. Gulchin is a Media Information Specialist at the embassy. She has degrees in translation and interpretation from an Azerbaijan university and a master’s degree in professional communication from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Gulchin has also worked as a training coordinator and manager for Internews for three years, and she was the focal point for media relations for a United Nations refugee agency.

Gulchin spent this week observing classes, meeting faculty members at CSJMM, and talking with Azeri students. The US embassy in Azerbaijan is sponsoring six Azeri students in the MA-Journalism program this year, and it sponsored four students last year. The U.S. embassies in both Azerbaijan and Armenia sponsor students to take classes and live in Tbilisi for one year of the two-year MA-Journalism program. Gulchin asked “her” students if they were experiencing any difficulties, and, fortunately, their answers were “no, except” they are having problems with some bureaucratic red tape. From CSJMM’s perspective, the only challenge is to increase Azeri students’ ability to speak English.

Guchin is particularly interested in CSJMM’s curriculum revision for two reasons. First, depending upon which courses CSJMM offers in Fall 2012, the embassy in Azerbaijan will need to a) find qualified instructors for those courses in Baku; b) receive the courses via distance education; or c) pay for Azeri students to live in Tbilisi and take the courses from CSJMM. Gulchin is also interested in the revision of CSJMM’s MA-Journalism program because the embassy would like to develop a similar Western-style professional journalism MA program in Baku.

Creating such a program will be challenging, said Gulchin. It is difficult to hire Azeri journalism instructors who either have experience at Western news organizations or who have a Western news mindset. Another challenge is developing a curriculum. In Azerbaijan, ALL universities offering an MA-Journalism program use the same curriculum. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Baku Office and Baku Slavic University are developing recommendations for revising the current standards and curriculum, which the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education would then consider for approval. The US embassy in Baku is also contributing ideas to revise the curriculum.

The best news, in my mind, is that Victoria and Gulchin are trying to get all six of the key players communicating together. The Public Affairs Officers at the US embassies in Armenia and Azerbaijan are key players because they each sponsor students at CSJMM. The US embassy in Georgia plays an important role because it helped launch CSJMM and it currently supervises the “Journalism School Partnership Program” between the University of South Carolina and CSJMM. Faculty members at Baku Slavic University and an Armenian university are key players because they instruct Azeri and Armenian students for the first and last semesters of CSJMM’s MA-Journalism program. And, of course, CSJMM is a key player.

I’m glad that Victoria and Gulchin are serving as catalysts to improve collaboration among the key players.

CSJMM faculty members decide on program-level learning outcomes

CSJMM MA-Journalism Program-level Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Students gain deep and systematic knowledge of theories and research findings in the field of journalism.

Students gain critical understanding of journalism practices, including facts, standards, conventions, and principles, including critical understanding of internal and external forces affecting their operation.

Students gain deep and systematic knowledge of the operation of media businesses, including critical understanding of internal and external forces affecting their operation.

Students gain knowledge of the history, ethics, and laws of journalism in the Caucasus countries.

Applying knowledge and understanding

Students apply knowledge and understanding of journalism theories, research findings, and practices in order to find new and original ways of solving complex problems.

Students apply knowledge and understanding of the Internet, including various databases in order to independently conduct the research they need to produce in-depth and investigative stories.

Students apply knowledge and conceptual understanding of managerial functions in order take appropriate risks, meet challenges, and overcome crises in media businesses.

Students apply the separate skills of a journalist—writing and editing stories; taking and editing photographs; creating and editing graphics; recording and editing audio; as well as shooting and editing videos—in order to produce interactive media content.

Making  judgments

Students investigate, analyze, organize, and synthesize new and complex information, including information from databases, in order to make grounded judgments/conclusions.

Students weigh the facts and opinions of various sources in order to produce fair, balanced, impartial stories for the media.

Students rely upon media research theories and methods in order to make appropriate decisions.

Students make ethical and legal judgments quickly even though all relevant information may not be available.

Professional skills –

Students use equipment commonly used by multimedia journalists (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, mobile phones, flip cameras) in order to produce professional-level content for a general audience.

Students use software commonly used by multimedia journalists (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premier; Final Cut Pro) in order to produce professional-level content for a general audience.

Students use blog publishing services (blogger.com, WardPress.com, TypePad.com) and content management systems (Drupal, WordPress) in order to create and publish online content.

Students use social networking platforms (Facebook.com, Twitter) and sharing services (YouTube, Flickr, Scribd) in order to distribute information by Internet.

Students use digital security platforms (Pidgin in OTR, TOR, VaultlatSuite) in order to protect the information or maintain the privacy of Internet communication.

Communication skills

Students communicate their conclusions, judgments, and arguments to academic and professional societies in English and Georgian languages without violating academic honesty.

Students communicate ideas in news stories, photographs, graphics, audio recordings, and video without violating academic honesty.

Students communicate orally and with technologies in order to pitch ideas to clients and to argue for one’s point of view.

Learning skills—

Students learn independently in order to keep up with new challenges & opportunities offered by rapidly changing media environment.

Students understand the learning process in order to help train others, such as fellow media employees, in order to ensure continued professional development and to remain competitive in the global media marketplace.


Students evaluate existing journalism content, including stories, photos, information graphics, audio, and video, as well as printed and online publications, in order to advise others on how to improve the content’s quality.

Students assess the values of themselves and others—such as the importance of initiative, professionalism, and responsibility—in order to work in teams to accomplish complex tasks.

Students understand human nature and different styles of leadership and management, as well as the differences between leaders and managers, in order to motivate others and facilitate decision-making.

Students recognize the needs and values of various constituencies in society in order to exercise leadership in guiding a media organization in a useful direction.

Parallel actions at GIPA’s CSJMM and USC’s SJMC

CSJMM is in the midst of an intense curriculum revision, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) is in the final stages of revising its curriculum. The following is an excerpt from Dean Charles Bierbauer’s annual report for 2011. I believe his words apply equally well to CSJMM.

“Curriculum review is a seeming constant in both of our schools — Library and Information Science and Journalism and Mass Communications—to ensure our programs are current and relevant. The journalism school faculty is engaged in its most far-reaching revision in well over a decade. Part of its aim is to eliminate those walls — we often call them silos — that keep us from preparing for the market place in which our graduates will find themselves. Multimedia, all-platform skills are now the norm in just about all our disciplines. I hear that consistently when I seek advice from alumni working in our fields. But we also have well-respected traditional programs focused on core capabilities whose long-standing benefits we don’t want to relinquish. If there are any walls left when we finish the process, they should be no more than knee walls that define the disciplines but do not obstruct our vision of the present and the future.”

CSJMM is also in the midst of preparing for accreditation, and the SJMC recently completed its accreditation process. Again I offer an excerpt from Dean Charles Bierbauer’s annual report for 2011.

“The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications took note of our teaching strength when its team visited in February: Students remark that the courses they take in their sequences are rigorous and more demanding than many of the other courses they take in liberal arts and sciences. Courses in writing were especially noted for their rigor in demanding clarity and accuracy. . . . The accrediting team’s summary says:
Strong school leadership.
A culture focused on teaching and student needs.
A productive faculty in professional and scholarly works.
Outstanding service to university and professional communities.
Efficient budget management.
A solid assessment plan. There is praise for our faculty: Since the last accreditation visit they have written 13 books, close to 83 refereed journal articles, more than 20 book chapters, more than 125 refereed research papers at academic conferences, more than 200 articles and essays in trade publications. Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments is securing more than $1 million in grant money.”


Process of revising CSJMM’s curriculum

The faculty’s major task from January to April—in addition to teaching—is revising the curriculum. With the help of Tamuna Gabisonia, journalism education officer for IREX and Tamuna Kakulia, project manager for IREX, we created a 20-step action plan for accomplishing our goals. We’ve completed or almost completed these steps:

• Assess the need for a revised curriculum. We conducted several focus groups of CSJMM students and alumni, and we interviewed media managers in Tbilisi.

• Analyze this data and review program goals and objectives. We analyzed tis data and we rewrote the mission statement for the MA-Journalism program.

• Prepare questions for the Accreditation Department. After learning as much as we could from studying the website for the Ministry of Education, and after discussing the revision process, we created a list of questions.

• Meet with a representative from the Accreditation Department. We met with Giorgi Tskhvediani, head of Georgia’s Accreditation Department, and I wrote about our useful meeting in an earlier blog post.

• Using the Ministry of Education’s Qualifications Framework to develop program-level learning outcomes. We need to do this to ensure that our mission statement matches our program learning outcomes. We should vote to approve this document on March 12.

• Develop a marketing report on the need for our type of MA-Journalism program. Jaba Bokuchava, CSJMM’s marketing manager, is working on this report.

• Develop a list of courses, their prerequisites, the number of credit hours for each course, and a schedule of when these courses will be taught. We are completing this process. In spring we should be able to publish a 2-year calendar of courses on CSJMM’s website. We’re very excited about some of the new courses we are creating.

• Map the program-level learning outcomes onto the list of courses. We need to do this to ensure that our program-level learning outcomes are met in one or more courses.

We still need to work on following steps:

• Define rules for awarding alternative credits.

• Develop brief course descriptions.

• Develop a grading system (we do not need to change GIPA’s existing grading system).

• Develop a structure and guidelines for final projects. In the new curriculum, all students will complete two different types of final projects—a research project and a practical project.

• Develop syllabuses for each course. Each syllabus will include learning outcomes policies, readings, schedule of class activities, teaching methods, and assessment tools.

• Review and possibly revise program-level learning outcomes given the new courses and syllabuses.

• Define career opportunities for graduates from the MA-Journalism program.

• Define future academic opportunities for graduates from the MA-Journalism program.

• Define admission requirements.

• Define scholarship requirements.

• Describe teaching methods used in the MA-Journalism program.

• Describe resources available for implementing the MA-Journalism program. This report includes human resources, library and journal resources, equipment and software, and so on.

And then we’ll rest.