Mass Comm is now the College of Media and Entertainment

It’s official: The new name of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication is the College of Media and Entertainment, reflecting the college’s diverse course offerings, student opportunities and forward-thinking approach to communication education in a new era. This column by Dean Ken Paulson was published in The Tennessean this week.

Dean Paulson

Dean Paulson

Over the past few weeks, I’ve have had the chance to visit with incoming freshmen at Middle Tennessee State University who are interested in careers in the media. I always emphasize that the fields they hope to enter are vibrant, marked by almost constant change.

I often share a photo of a manual typewriter and joke that “this is how we texted in the ‘60s.”

I’ll then share a photo of a circa-1965 television and explain that it received just four channels. In those days, if you missed “The Tonight Show,” you missed “The Tonight Show.” There were no video-recording devices or YouTube to capture the most talked-about clips.

The parents in attendance often laugh about the media of a half-century ago, but the students don’t. I might as well be showing them cave paintings.

CME_MTSU_logo tallerAnd yet there will come a time when they tell their own children that they once had to type messages into their phones and wear goggles at 3D movies.

Change is inevitable, and it’s our job as educators to prepare students for an ever-evolving future.

That’s why the College of Mass Communication at MTSU is being renamed the College of Media and Entertainment. It’s overdue. The media world isn’t driven by mass communication anymore; it’s now all about targeted audiences, tailored content and strategic audience-building.

Though traditional media have been buffeted by digital technology, there’s more media being consumed around the world today than at any other time in history. Those four channels on a TV have been replaced by tens of thousands of content providers.

So the rebooted College of Media and Entertainment will strive to give students the skills and insights they’ll need to engage, inform and entertain audiences on multiple platforms. That means learning to communicate effectively through words, audio and video.

It also means coming to grips with change. The most important traits we can instill in our students is a receptivity to change and a comfort level with technology. While earlier generations left college with a pretty good sense of how their careers would unfold, today’s college students need to be able to say, “Bring it on.”

New College LogoThat will take confidence. And preparation. And a well-rounded education that prepares every student for both a profession and a rewarding life.

Every college – regardless of subject and focus – has the obligation to ensure that it’s teaching for the future. The same digital disruption that has rocked the news media, music industry, retailers and travel agencies is headed our way.

There are traditional values that must be protected on America’s campuses, including academic freedom, a commitment to research, respect for diversity and an insistence upon integrity. But there’s also ample opportunity to question tradition and take a fresh look at what we do and how we do it.

Over the past half-century of media, we’ve seen the rise and fall of 8-tracks, Laserdiscs, Mini-discs, VCRs, pagers and Pong. But if we’re to embrace and outrace change, colleges need to be as contemporary as possible, incorporating the latest technology, encouraging innovation and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.

Change is challenging educators as never before. Bring it on.

In MTSU’s most recent episode of “Out of the Blue,” Andrew Oppmann, MTSU vice president of marketing and communications, talked with Dean Paulson and faculty from the newly named College of Media and Entertainment. From our students’ recent work behind-the-scenes at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, to the renaming of one of MTSU’s most well known and nationally respected colleges reflecting the new age of communication, it’s all here in the August 2015 episode. Click Paulson interview and enjoy!

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