Letter from the Director

As we look forward to a better future…

I write this letter on behalf of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. I have had the honor to serve as the School’s director since 2016. My colleagues represent the best in their respective fields – Advertising, Journalism, and Public Relations. As I begin my sixth academic year at San José State University, I am continually impressed by the exceptional quality of our award-winning student work in each of our majors, and our successful expansion into new areas such as immersive technologies.

In response to changing market demands, JMC has updated its curriculum, providing our students with the appropriate concepts and practical skills to succeed in their careers. Some of our initiatives have included our most recent minors in Sports Journalism, Broadcast Meteorology, Digital Media in Mass Communications, and a new emphasis in Marketing Communications as well as our existing minors in Advertising, Journalism, and Public Relations. We have added courses in advanced technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality and User Interactions (UI) and User Experience (UX) Design. We present numerous options in each of our majors, catering to both creative and managerial-focused students. Journalism now provides options for students to develop skills in related fields, such as social justice, human rights, health, and the sciences. Our students can also focus on news documentary production.

With these new options in place, our enrollment has grown in recent years, while we have remained attentive to maintaining the quality of our courses and student resources. Most impressive are our classroom, lab, and studio facilities, which continue to improve through the generosity of our alumni. Our state-of-the-art television studio hosts our weekly news broadcasts, as well as The Spear, our sports news show (also with a monthly sports magazine), and the long-running El Espartano Noticias, the first organization to report news completely in Spanish at San José State University. We have recently developed bilingual coursework that will support student interest and industry growth in Spanish-language news media. DB&H Communications is our full-service student agency for advertising and public relations majors. We also now have a new Strategic Communications Lab, funded by PR alumnus Scott Anderson.

Our faculty are leaders in their fields, winning honors and awards regularly in their areas of practice. Many have presented nationally and internationally and are published experts often sharing their thoughts in a wide variety of regional and national media, as well in more formal peer-reviewed journals and books and creative venues. They are ideal mentors for our students, who now regularly win regional and national awards in advertising, journalism, and public relations. Each semester, you will note frequent updates on our latest student achievements.

Our students come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. They frequently participate in honest and frank discussions with top media practitioners on how to improve diversity in mass communications, how to widen perspectives on critical public issues and other important concerns. These are often published and aired locally. When internships were not always possible during COVID-19, our faculty found ways of providing students real-world experience beyond their classroom activities. Our alumni network as well as Spartan-friendly professionals are always eager to help our students gain experience.

We look forward to the coming academic year and will continue to work hard to ensure that our students remain engaged in their respective fields of study, regardless of the circumstances that might prevail to counter our efforts. Indeed, JMC won numerous awards during the pandemic for our creative works and journalism coverage, and in many instances, we grew stronger as a School!

As a freshman or transfer student, we warmly welcome you to our School of Journalism and Mass Communications. We encourage you to apply for any of our many scholarships. We give away thousands of dollars each year. Look for forthcoming announcements this fall.

Finally, I would like to remind you to consider our graduate program, in which you can begin your coursework in your junior year if you wish to pursue an advanced degree in mass communications at SJSU. Both our undergraduate and graduate programs underscore our motto: Learn by doing.

If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to connect with me at any time.

Phylis Johnson, Ph.D.Phylis West Johnson, Ph.D.
Director (2016-Present) and Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications
DBH 103

Former Directors

  • Robert Rucker, M.S. (2012-2016)
  • William G. Briggs, Ph.D. (2006-2012)
  • Dennis L. Wilcox, Ph.D. (2002-2006)
  • Kenneth W. Blasé, J.D. (1990-2002)
  • Dennis E. Brown, Ph.D. (1972-1990)
  • Charles E. Marshall, M.S. (1969-1972)