Missouri School of Journalism creates diversity program

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri School of Journalism announced a new diversity program Thursday.

The plan is called the "Student Development, Diversity and Recruitment Program." It is designed to help increase the enrollment of minority communities in journalism and strategic communications.

Missouri School of Journalism Dean David D. Kurpius said the program has been in the making for the past year.

“We need to go talk to students in high schools and get them interested in working in strategic communications and journalism and offer them opportunities through summer programs and campus programs to get a taste of what we do and the importance of the gold standard of training, which is the Missouri Method," Kurpius said.

The program will provide guidance for students before and after college with recruitment and mentorships. Students can become connected with alumni in the field to help guide them early on in their careers.

Kurpius said the program will also help to support better media coverage.

“One of the issues we see nationally is people don’t see themselves reflected in media or in advertising or in public relations, so by doing a program like this, we help ensure there are more people who can provide diverse perspectives and then more people in our country see themselves represented in media,” he said.

Executive Director Ron Kelley said he's excited for the journalism school to start getting into classrooms and talking with diverse students across the country about the journalism profession.

“It gives us different voices to provide different perspectives when we do our news coverage and the opinions on strategic communication areas so I think it’s important to have those different voices and perspectives,” Kelley said.

He said getting diverse students is more important than ever for the University. According to the Census Bureau, minorities will become the majority in the United States by 2044.

“This is something the dean has been working on for a while. What happened last fall just made us realize how important we do have a program like this,” Kelley said. 

Kurpius said he hopes the program will become popular with other colleges across the country as well.

“We need to build it here first and to share and learn from that and help others build it from there,” he said.