By the Numbers: Strategic Plan Aim 4: Embrace and Protect the Ethical Pursuit of Truth to Uphold Democracy

Monday, June 27, 2022 - 8:45am

In 20-21, the college focused on expanding student opportunities to understand ethics and engage in high-quality journalism. 

On Nov. 12, 2021, the college voted to require that every student take JOMC 222: Social Justice, Human Rights and the Media as a requirement for their degree. This requirement will go into effect for incoming freshmen in fall 2022. 
To support a greater understanding of ethics in our industries, the college engaged our Experience Lab PIRs in a roundtable discussion on real-world ethical scenarios in March 2022. Two core required courses – the introductory journalism and mass communications class and the senior-level ethics courses – were required to attend. 
The college also supported the launch of a student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with an exploratory meeting held in April 2022, where more than 25 prospective student members attended. 
The college offered a number of courses that allowed students to dive into important issues in our democracy. A spring special topics course partnered with the Omaha World-Herald to explore past OWH coverage for evidence of racism and bias. A fall 2021 class produced a podcast series, the State of Waste, on the environmental impacts of waste management in Nebraska. A spring 2021 Nebraska News Service podcast series, Overdosed, focused on issues of drug abuse in Nebraska. 
The college conducted a year-long review of the Global Eyewitness program, which travels with students internationally to produce multimedia coverage of world issues. The review resulted in significant changes to program requirements, refocused student reporting on solutions journalism and strengthened college partnerships with UNL Education Abroad. Due to COVID-19, the program was unable to travel internationally in 2022 and chose the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as its focus instead.  
The college also increased news content production created through the Experience Labs and disseminated to more than 100+ Nebraska news outlets through the Nebraska News Service. 
The work produced by our students gained state-wide, regional and national recognition. Notably, a 2020-2021 depth report, Being Black in Lincoln, a 12-part feature series on black residents of Lincoln, Nebraska, took home the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Award for Collegiate Journalism. 


Start (20-21) 


Goal (25-26) 

Increase enrollment in college offered ACE courses by 20%[1] 




Host an industry roundtable on professional ethics and integrity each semester 




50% of students will have completed the ethics modules specific to their major at graduation 




Increase number of student bylines in local media by 25%[2] 




Host a regional SPJ meeting 




100% of syllabi will show dedicated discussions, activities or assignments on professional ethics and integrity 





[1] ACE enrollment is calculated by comparing enrollment listed in the IEA Course Fill Report to ACE courses listed on the UNL ACE website. 

[2] Bylines for local media is calculated as the number of stories posted to the Nebraska News Service Website during the fiscal year 

Review of the targets 

The number of students enrolled in ACE courses declined in 2021-2020. The addition of the JOMC 222 requirement, which is an ACE 8 and 9, should help to reverse this trend in future years. However, the college will need to focus on offering additional ACE options that are attractive to students campus-wide to meet our goal.  
The college held its first industry roundtable in spring 2022 establishing a model for future semesters. The college will need to ensure it schedules a roundtable once a semester.  
Many courses offer ethics modules throughout our curriculum. The college will need to establish a system to document ethics modules and a map to ensure that all students are completing at least one prior to graduation. The college will also need to establish a system for documenting ethics-related activities and discussions in course syllabi.  
The college's SPJ chapter was established in Spring 2022. Continued support of the chapter through the new Deepe Family Endowed Chair will provide the chapter the opportunity to grow and begin hosting meetings in the college.