The Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia hired its first professor of practice—a non-tenure track faculty position for distinguished professionals—this month, welcoming longtime CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews, who graduated from UVA with honors in 1974.
While the university has implemented professors of practice for many years in other departments, such as the Darden School of Business, the relatively new media studies major has been largely lecture-based.
Andrews, a member of WUVA Media for his entire college career and a professional journalist for 41 years, explains that his courses will meld academic analysis of the news media with hands-on experience in the craft of news writing. These hands-on classes will most likely start in the fall semester of 2016 and will include both a beginner and an advanced class for aspiring student journalists.
“The idea,” Andrews says, “is to teach students how to report and ask them to produce actual news stories. In the advanced class, we will be very ambitious and very investigative.” Andrews adds that while some students may be interested in only broadcast journalism or only written journalism, all of his students will learn both.
UVA has no journalism major, and Andrews believes a liberal arts education is far more important for prospective journalists. He points out that he himself graduated from UVA as a foreign affairs major.
“All good journalists are very good reporters and writers and all good journalists know a little bit about most everything,” Andrews says, “and the way you get training and get to that place of knowing a little bit about everything starts with a liberal arts education. …Journalism is essentially the real-world practice of the liberal arts.”
With these practical courses still a year away, Andrews says he is most excited about a survey course he will be teaching next semester called “The News Media.”
“I want students to understand and be able to analyze how they handle the news,” Andrews says, because it’s easy to choose news sources that conform with one’s point of view. “I want them to analyze whether it is good for them as citizens to always, in all formats, choose the news that they consume rather than having it presented to them.”