Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Journalism

Purpose or Scope of Collection

edit A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic needs

The journalism collection supports instruction, research and information needs relating to news-gathering and production and its impact on society by undergraduates, graduates and faculty in the School of Journalism. The School offers a B.A. and M.A. in Journalism within the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Undergraduates may select a specialization in Animation and comics storytelling in media, Broadcast journalism, Documentary production, Entrepreneurship and innovation, Environment, science and health, Information graphics, International reporting, Media photography / photojournalism, Public relations, and Sports journalism. Special programs within the School of Journalism include the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism which conducts research and training in the area of environmental and science journalism.

The School of Journalism is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC)and undertakes a self-study followed by a site visit every six years. In the last two cycles, self-studies have included a section on library resources supporting the program. This section has traditionally been prepared by the Journalism selector.

Since news about our world is of great interest and importance to nearly every field of study in the University, the journalism collection is used by students and researchers from many other programs. This is especially true of programs in the social sciences – specifically Economics, Sociology and Political Science. International media and press issues are of particular interest to International Studies faculty and students. Studies of the press’ influence on our society are becoming more commonplace. Programs in communication, telecommunication and advertising rely on the journalism collection in the areas of overlap with those programs. Material relating to photo-journalism is of interest to photography generally, which is treated as a fine art and kept in the Art Library. Graphic design and typography are also of interest to others outside of journalism most notably Art. Material is selected by the art librarian and others and is kept in both the Art Library and the ‘Z’ classification of the Main Library. MSU houses a Journalism/Law Institute and the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association that involve the law and education collections respectively. Issues of censorship overlap into many areas including library science, psychology and political science. The journalism collection selects materials on censorship as it relates to the press and the mass media.

Finally, basic writing courses, such as those offered through the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, often encompass journalistic topics and material.

B. History of the Collection/Existing strengths and weaknesses

The journalism collection has grown steadily but the bulk of the collection has been added since 1960. There was an early attempt to create a strong collection of British press history during the 1960’s and 1970’s, which was somewhat successful. Since the History of Journalism courses at MSU focus primarily on the U.S. press, historical strengths reside within that region. However the history of journalism is currently not a major area of teaching or research emphasis within the School of Journalism. As journalists are writers by profession, the collection contains many autobiographical works, memoirs, and personal accounts that can be considered primary sources for historical accounts of news organizations and history in general. Broadcast and online journalism have been growing in importance since 2005.

Materials are selected that cover journalism around the world. Histories of individual news organizations are rarely collected except for the most renowned newspapers, networks and news agencies. Works in vernacular languages are generally the purview of the Area Studies librarians, though some are purchased by the Journalism selector. The Libraries’ collection of Latin American journalism is stronger than other geographic regions due principally to an emeritus faculty member who was among the top scholars in this area. 

The collections of photojournalism and publication layout and design are not nearly as strong as the reporting, news writing, and broadcast journalism collections.  Photojournalism is purchased by the journalism bibliographer, but is housed in the Art Library with other parts of the photography collection. This requires consultation with the Art librarian.