Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Journalism

First Advisor

Debora R. Wenger

Second Advisor

Joseph B. Atkins

Third Advisor

Iveta Imre


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



In the digital world, journalism is a highly technology-dependent profession (Goni & Tabassum 2020). But there are gaps between what journalism schools teach and what employers want (Wenger and Owens, 2013). As a result, students, educators, and professionals demand the development of specific digital skills (Lee 2022). This study examines how journalism educators adapt their programs to respond to changing media environments and to the demands of professional journalism in the digital age. The researcher used a quantitative survey method to target the 119 journalism and mass communication programs accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The researcher contacted those listed as chair, dean, or director and generated a response rate of 40%. This study applies disruptive innovation theory. Christensen (2013) introduced the concept of disruptive innovation to demonstrate how technological advances may not only have a significant impact on an industry but also so profoundly disrupt it that its leaders are challenged or even deposed. Highlights of the research findings include clear evidence of concern among program heads when it comes to their ability to address digital transformation in the industry. Three factors emerged as the most difficult according to the greatest percentage of program leaders: the need for long-term investment (47.37%), the ability to predict future change and demand (35.9%), and difficulty in hiring faculty expertise (30.77%) were all said to be very challenging. When asked which technologies they planned to incorporate into the journalism curriculum in the next 3-5 years, artificial intelligence (AI) was selected by 51% of respondents, followed by drone journalism (46%), virtual reality (44%) and augmented reality (44%).

This study also explores what journalism program heads say they need to keep up with the digital transformation and identifies two barriers that have all disappeared in the years since technological change began sweeping through the journalism industry.

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