Strategic Communication

  • Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
  • Department Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Major Mass Communications minor

An instructor lectures during a class An instructor lectures during a class

As the only accredited journalism and mass communications department in a small, highly selective, nationally ranked liberal arts college, we are committed not only to broadening minds, but also to inculcating habits of honor, careful analysis, reasoned discourse and excellent writing in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic culture.

Strategic Communication

Through our signature Knight Program in Media Ethics, we ensure that students understand the ethical dimensions of the decisions they will make.

The department’s demanding professional courses are taught by faculty with extensive academic and professional experience and achievement in newsrooms and public relations. Reid Hall, which houses the department, provides students with an up-to-date technological environment that prepares them for working in multimedia communications. The heart and soul of the building is its third floor, home to a newsroom, TV studio and control room. There, students in several classes work together to produce The Rockbridge Report, a newscast and website that are regularly recognized for excellence by professional journalism organizations.

To make sure students are well grounded in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, they must take more courses outside the department than within. We offer two professionally oriented majors, Journalism and Strategic Communication, and a minor in Mass Communications.

The Strategic Communication major prepares students to craft messages for corporations, nonprofit organizations or governmental agencies.

The Mass Communications minor provides students in other disciplines with the opportunity to learn about the professional values, theory and practice of media, while honing their information-gathering, analytical and writing skills.

Opportunities 

Our students are stars, in their summer internships and the jobs they land after they graduate and leave W&L. Both Journalism and Strategic Communication majors are required to complete summer internships, opportunities that have taken students from Austin and Boston to Seattle and Shanghai.

Our graduates are running PR and marketing campaigns for clients at the Grey Group, Edelman and Ruder Finn in New York. They devise communications strategies for nonprofit organizations such as a philanthropic foundation in Oklahoma and the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia. And they serve as top executives at firms from coast to coast, from Zillow in Seattle to FleishmanHillard in New York.

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah

Department Head

Robin Grivetti

Administrative Assistant

News


W&L Outcomes: Charlotte Dross ’23

Charlotte Dross ’23 is working in public relations as a postgraduate intern at Jackson Spalding.

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Bridget Osas and Yewon Shin

Summer of Hands-On Research

Bridget Osas ’25 is researching behavioral impacts on the development of metabolic syndromes like obesity.

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Jamie Spanfeller '22

W&L Outcomes: Jamie Spanfeller ’22

Spanfeller will be applying her studies in sociology and strategic communication to her new role as an editorial assistant for Women's Health magazine.

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Bob de Maria on air at WLUR

Bob de Maria, W&L Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Emeritus, Dies at 79

De Maria, a longtime professor and manager of the university’s radio station and television studio, was a beloved mentor to students and a cherished colleague and friend to many in the university community.

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Karen Cox

W&L Presents Public Lecture with Historian Karen L. Cox

Cox is an award-winning historian and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.

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Colón Publishes Article in The Conversation

Professor Aly Colón published an article describing the best practices for consuming news in The Conversation.

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David Fahrenthold

W&L Hosts Public Discussion with Reporter David Fahrenthold

The Feb. 24 talk, which is free and open to the public to view online, is titled “A Conversation with David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: Unraveling the Troubled, Secretive Trump Empire.”

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AP Smith ’21 gets a first glimpse of the final version of a book she helped create for Project Horizon in a public relations class at W&L.

W&L Students Partner with Project Horizon to Make Life Skills Book

Students in Professor Dayo Abah’s Principles of Public Relations class worked with a Lexington nonprofit to make a life skills book for clients who are trying to get back on their feet.

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W&L’s Locy Featured in New Netflix Series

Journalism Professor Toni Locy appears in multiple episodes of the new docuseries "Trial 4."

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Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert is the Next Speaker in the Mudd Lecture Series

Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for The New Yorker, will give a virtual lecture on Oct. 29 at 5 p.m.

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Poynter Quotes Colón on Capitalizing B in Black

W&L journalism professor Aly Colón is quoted in a piece about a recent decision by the AP Stylebook and other journalism institutions to begin capitalizing the B in Black in articles about people and culture.

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Kara Lough '20

Finding Her Community

When Kara Lough '20 found W&L, she found a supportive environment that allowed her to lead a magazine, study in Italy, work as a photographer and plan a career.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

JOUR 201

Public Relations Writing

A writing course to teach the many forms of persuasive writing used by public relations practitioners to reach diverse audiences. Through frequent writing assignments and revisions, students master the art of press releases, media pitches, media alerts, features, public service announcements, newsletters, press kits, backgrounders and coverage memos for appropriate media outlets. Students are exposed to social media and video skills as well as writing.

JOUR 190

Beyond Google & Wikipedia

An introduction to information sources that academic researchers, journalists, public relations and advertising professionals rely on increasingly in the digital age to conduct scholarly research, report and write news stories, and to find, analyze and present research on trends in mass communications. Students learn how to evaluate sources of information for credibility and quality, while they strengthen their basic research skills to go beyond Google and dig below the surface of today's high-tech world.

JOUR 220

Social Media: Principles & Practice

In this course, students dive deep into social media, learning how to use it as thoughtful and ethical professionals, and examining its growing roles in society, politics, identity and relationships. Students get hands-on experience in producing news for social media by running a multi-platform social news service. They also learn how to plan a strategic social media campaign, how to use metrics to analyze social media effectiveness, and how to use social media in reporting.

JOUR 371

Reporting in Business

This course enables students to explore ethical challenges that arise within the various communication practices of contemporary media: journalism, public relations, advertising, documentary film, blogging and fictional programming. The course offers a grounding in moral reasoning and an understanding of professional ethics as an evolving response to changing social and industrial conditions in the media industries.

JOUR 345

Media Ethics

This course enables students to explore ethical challenges that arise within the various communication practices of contemporary media: journalism, public relations, advertising, documentary film, blogging and fictional programming. The course offers a grounding in moral reasoning and an understanding of professional ethics as an evolving response to changing social and industrial conditions in the media industries.

JOUR 362

Producing for Print & Online Media

Preparation for leadership roles in electronic media. Extensive work in decision-making and management in the newsroom through television news producing and Internet content construction.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah
Adedayo (Dayo)

Adedayo (Dayo) Abah

Department Head and Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Abah teaches courses on communications law, news media, crisis communication, and international communication. Her research areas include online anonymous speech, international defamation law, copyright issues, Nollywood in African cinema, women and Nollywood, religion and the media, and immigrant media use.

Curriculum Vitae

Mark Coddington
Mark

Mark Coddington

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Coddington teaches courses on digital journalism, media bias, social media and reporting. His research interests include media sociology, online news production, networked and participatory journalism, and social media.

Curriculum Vitae

Aly Colón
Aly

Aly Colón

John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Media Ethics

Colón teaches courses on the ethics of journalism, poverty in the media, media ethics, and race and ethnicity in media. Previously, he worked for a news service, daily newspapers, public radio and a journalism institute.

Curriculum Vitae

Kevin

Kevin Finch

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Finch teaches broadcast producing, announcing and documentaries. He was a large market TV news director who also covered 9/11 in Washington, the Senate post-impeachment vote on President Clinton and the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

Curriculum Vitae

Toni Locy
Toni

Toni Locy

Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications

Locy teaches courses on covering the courts and law, news writing, in-depth reporting, multimedia storytelling design and sports journalism. She was previously a journalist for 25 years, covering primarily the federal court system.

Curriculum Vitae

Alecia Swasy
Alecia

Alecia Swasy

Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism

Swasy teaches courses on business and economic reporting, media management and entrepreneurship. She previously worked as a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal and Tampa Bay Times. She is the author of four books.

Curriculum Vitae

Mark Coddington
Aly Colón
Toni Locy
Alecia Swasy
Adedayo (Dayo) Abah