Documents, photographs, newspapers, and exhibit content related to the Journalism Department.
Founded in the 1920s, the Journalism Department is one of 16 programs in the College of Liberal Arts. The department offers
a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism with emphases available in broadcasting, multimedia, news-editorial, and public
relations. A student-run news organization is a core element of the department and is representative of Cal Poly’s “learn-by-doing”
approach. Journalism student work in communications media including the Mustang Daily student newspaper; KCPR 91.3, the FM-stereo
radio station; Central Coast PRspectives, a public relations firm; or with CPTV, Cal Poly’s TV station.
While students have published a campus newspaper or other periodic journal since 1916, journalism classes were first offered
in 1927 in the English Department as supplements to vocational training. Course requirements at the time included publishing
in the biweekly student newspaper. In 1932 a loss in state funding prompted a significant campus reorganization; Cal Poly
closed the high school, the junior college, and related programs. Journalism classes were no longer offered and The Polygram,
a weekly campus newsletter, ceased production.
In 1938, the student newspaper returned with the new title: El Mustang, and in 1939 journalism courses returned under the
English Department. Robert E. Kennedy, former reporter and public relations officer and future Cal Poly president, joined
Cal Poly in 1940 of as Head of Journalism. The coursework transformed under his leadership. By 1947 a department of English,
Public Speaking, and Journalism had. Kennedy was also responsible for establishing the Agricultural Journalism Department
in 1950, a visionary program that prepared Ag students for jobs as reporters and editors with rural newspapers and agricultural
journals. With support from alumni, the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication was established in partnership with the
Journalism Department to foster communication between the agricultural industry, the media, and the public in the 1980s.
In 1960, the Journalism Department expanded and was renamed the Technical Journalism. It offered three concentrations: Industrial
Journalism, Community Journalism, and Home Economics Journalism. “Technical” was dropped from the title in 1968 and over the
next two decades new concentrations in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations were introduced. By the 1990s students were
able to build unique curriculum packages to maximize their preparation for future careers in journalism.
The journalism department adopted new technologies and additional media outlets for informing the Cal Poly community throughout
its history on campus. Students launched the first Cal Poly campus news website in 2006, added the Cal Poly mobile app in
2012, and fully integrated social media in 2013. The department also sponsors student chapters of the Society of Professional
Journalists, Radio-Television News Directors Association, and the Public Relations Student Society of America. The department
serves as headquarters for the California Intercollegiate Press Association (CIPA).
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