College of Communication & Education

BA in Journalism

Program Highlights

The Department of Journalism & Public Relations offers a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with emphasis on two options: News and Public Relations. J&PR has been fully accredited by the Accrediting Council on Journalism and Mass Communications since 1996. ACEJMC has granted accreditation to 105 programs in the United States and eight in other countries. The organization dedicated to excellence and high standards in professional education and endorses programs that recognize and incorporate technological advances, changing professional and economic practice, and public interests and demands.

Accreditation Logo of ACEJMC

J&PR was most recently re-accredited by ACEJMC in 2016, following an extensive self-study and site visit by an accrediting team of two academic leaders in journalism and a PR professional (full site visit team report can be found here (PDF)).

Program Values and Skills

J&PR strives to embed the values of ethics, commitment to diversity and inclusion, professionalism, and free speech in all classes. The program also helps students develop the skills of research, interviewing, writing, visual storytelling, editing, accuracy and fairness, strategy, critical thinking, technological competence, and numeracy.

Experiential Learning Labs

Tehama Group Communications and The Orion each provide students with strong professional experience and leadership skills. Both are an enduring part of the program, with TGC founded in 1990 and The Orion founded in 1975.

Tehama Group Communications

Tehama Group Communications Logo

Tehama Group Communications is Chico State’s student-managed, full-service public relations agency. Students in the agency receive hands-on public relations, graphic design and integrated communications experience while operating in a traditional agency setting. The agency structure allows each student advanced development in PR and visual communications, client relations, organization, account management and planning skills.

Students in the agency are competitively selected each semester to work directly with up to seven campus and community clients. They conduct research, develop and execute communications plans, create a wide variety of communication tactics, and evaluate implemented communication efforts.

TGC is a learning laboratory and is led by a student general manager. The faculty adviser’s role is to provide client service and account management learning opportunities for students in the agency. The adviser reviews all client work and works directly with agency staff throughout project development.

PR option majors who do not participate in TGC are required to complete a community-based field-experience internship during the semester. Students are required to secure these PR skills-focused internships themselves, helping them to advance their skills in public relations writing, strategy, client relations, research, organization, and planning. A J&PR faculty member supervises field-experience internships, providing help and feedback independently and in conjunction with on-site internship supervisors.

Companies who host J&PR interns are recognized annually in the department newsletter.

The Orion

The Orion Logo

The Orion is Chico State’s independent, student-run news organization and features a weekly print edition, daily digital news coverage, video features, social media updates, podcasting, and occasional radio shows in conjunction with the student-run KCSC internet radio station.

Students in this news laboratory learn journalism by doing journalism with and for their peers and external audiences that include faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and prospective students. Instruction and feedback are available through working with editors on material for The Orion student newspaper and several learning resources, including weekly staff critiques, examples and tutorials available on the course website, and student-initiated conferences with the faculty adviser.

The Orion draws about 50 students each semester, with roughly one-third of the students enrolling from outside the department. The news organization is operated as independently as possible from J&PR, whose primary role is to provide the faculty adviser. A small hiring committee, comprising the outgoing editor-in-chief, adviser, and department chair, selects the editor-in-chief each semester. That person then hires (and fires) all other editors and writers and makes the final editorial decisions for the organization.

The adviser’s role is to offer advice and training.

The Orion is perhaps the most honored college newspaper in the country. So honored, in fact, that it was named to the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame in 2005 for being a winner of or finalist for the coveted Pacemaker Award some 22 times since 1988. The Orion continues to win numerous national and regional awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award and the National Newspaper Association General Excellence Award.

Journalism Times Cover Screenshot

Student Awards & Work

Chico State Journalism & Public Relations continues to build on its reputation as a prestigious program, with its students collecting more than 55 awards for academics and research since 2010.

Of the awards J&PR majors have received in the past seven years, 25 were awarded through national competitive selection, 22 through statewide competitive selection, and 10 were awarded on campus through competitive selection.

Several scholarships and awards students have acquired are from prominent organizations such as Google, City University of New York, Dow Jones, Scripps Howard, ProPublica, and Politico.

The award list is updated frequently and included in J&PR’s fall newsletter.

One notable accomplishment that reflects the consistent quality of the program is the awarding of the 2017 Pulitzer prize for news coverage to three J&PR alumni: Rick Hurd (News-ed, 1992), Malaika (Fisher) Fraley (News-ed, 1999) and Katrina Cameron (News, 2014). Each served as an editor for The Orion during their time at Chico State.

Beyond the capstone internship requirements, J&PR is very portfolio oriented and students leave with professional work from classes they can share with prospective employers. Select student work is showcased each semester in the department newsletter, J&PR Wired. The newsletter itself is portfolio work, in fact, as it is produced entirely by a student team from TGC each fall.