By Maddison Cervantes

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism wants to assist students in diversifying their journalistic skills and recognizing how they can be applied in the real world.

The school will begin a new special topics class, Journalism 490, in the upcoming fall semester. The course will focus on the creation of online classes — both educational courses offered through universities and online courses for continuing education (such as The Great Courses, CreativeLive, Lynda. com, Udemy, and Skillshare.)

Chair in Media Entrepreneurship Mignon Fogarty will be teaching the class and has been communicating with other RSJ faculty members regarding the format of the course.

“I believe journalists have a lot of skills that are valuable in online education and are well-positioned to work in this growing industry,” Fogarty said.“We’ll look at how these different businesses operate and learn about the different business models.”

As a part of the class, Fogarty stated that students would also create an online course for the journalism school that will guide incoming students in developing basic writing skills. She described the course as a hands-on project.

Associate Professor and Academic Chair Donica Mensing elaborated on Journalism 490 as well, stating that special topics classes are created when new ideas are shared throughout the RSJ.

Special topics classes are currently in session. Caesar Andrews, a professor in ethics and writing, is teaching an investigative journalism class, along with associate professor Howard Goldbaum, who is teaching an advanced photojournalism class where students are working on their photography portfolios.

According to Mensing, these courses are valued by the Reynolds School each semester, offering students a variety of learning options as well as providing the faculty with a chance to work in their expertise.

“Journalism is diversifying, and journalists are diversifying their skills as well,” Mensing said. “In the past, as a freelancer, you’d write a story and try to sell it somewhere. Now, the range of things that a freelancer can do to practice their skills and engage with people is a lot broader, and online education is certainly a growing field.”

Mensing added that an option for freelance journalists is to teach or take online courses. By doing so, freelancers are given an opportunity to extend or consume knowledge. The course is a journalistic product that helps students to see and navigate the options available to them.

Mensing also stated that students would be able to apply the ideas from the new course to other activities and projects in their future careers as freelance journalists.

Along with Fogarty and Mensing, UNR students are enthused about the upcoming journalism opportunity, such as Reynolds School of Journalism senator-elect Sadie Fienberg. Fienberg is currently a student in Fogarty’s social journalism class, and learned about the new course through an in-class announcement.

“[Journalism 490] seemed interesting,” Fienberg said. “We, as students, always fill out evaluation forms for classes at the end of the semester about what we would like to see change, but I don’t know how much of it actually gets changed for the following semester. This class seems like it will incorporate everything we want to see.”

For Fienberg, the idea of change is essential for the future of the Reynolds School. A course such as Journalism 490 could potentially extend the usage of online resources and be an asset to that change.

Throughout the rest of the semester and over the summer, Fogarty will be working on the format for the course; speaking with other journalism faculty members for input on what the majority thinks that freshman should learn about the mechanics of writing and other important aspects the course should cover.

“We are excited that we can take [Forgarty’s] experience and share it with students in a way that they can imagine applying it in their own lives,” Mensing said.

Maddison Cervantes can be reached at and on Twitter                               @madcervantes.