Adam Eisenberg is the first graduate of the Digital Journalism and Design Program.

First Digital Journalism and Design graduate already putting new skills to work

Adam Eisenberg was an online producer working at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel when he decided to pursue a master’s degree in journalism.

He went looking for a program grounded in the digital age that would take his skills to a new level.

“A lot of the programs I looked at were very theory-based and I wanted something really practical that focused on digital journalism, something that until now didn’t exist,’’ Eisenberg says.

He found what he was looking for at the USF St. Petersburg Digital Journalism and Design Program. So a year ago he left his job and joined the program’s founding class.

Last month he became the program’s first graduate and is back at the Sun-Sentinel applying what he learned.

Because the program is fully online, Eisenberg was able to take classes at his home in Pompano Beach on Florida’s East Coast without ever stepping foot on the USFSP campus.

“It really hits that sweet spot in terms of practicality,” Eisenberg says. “It was something I was really looking for: The skills that are really required of journalists today. And the fact that it was online made it the perfect match.”

The program, launched in fall 2012 under the leadership of Associate Professor of Journalism Mark Walters, has attracted a mix of students, from recent undergraduates to mid-career journalists looking to enhance their knowledge and skills.

 “You’re interacting with a really wide range of interesting people in these courses,’’ says Eisenberg.

The program uses technology to great effect to increase interaction among students and professors, he says, including video conferencing and course message boards. “I really feel like I know these people so well even though we haven’t met face to face,’’ he says.

Each of the program’s 12 courses addresses a different aspect of digital journalism, providing a solid foundation of skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the fast-paced world of online journalism. The topics include multimedia reporting, digital media technology, photojournalism, digital video and audio production, visual communication and entrepreneurial journalism.

Eisenberg says he is putting all the knowledge and skills he acquired in the past year to good use every day and has recommended the program to others.

“As we enter the second year of this program, we have been very pleased at the response we are getting from our students,’’ said Walters.

Vivian Fueyo, interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Eisenberg’s success is heartening and reflects the hard work of Walters and the rest of the digital journalism faculty. “This program is an example of the kind of innovative academic programs USF St. Petersburg offers to meet the needs of students, regardless of where they live, and to prepare them for today’s workforce,’’ she said.

USFSP Offers New Fully Online Digital Journalism Graduate Degree

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (January 23, 2012) – A new fully online master’s degree program at USF St. Petersburg meets the needs of established and budding journalists and other communication professionals by addressing the growing demand for online and digital media skills.

The master’s degree in Digital Journalism and Design offers journalists and other communication professionals courses to develop their web publication, audio visual production, and photography skills while integrating them with foundational journalistic principles. Students will also explore the evolving ethical and legal aspects of digital media. The degree can be completed in one year of full-time study or over a longer period of time if courses are taken part-time.

“No other degree program that we are aware of integrates digital technology as deeply into the practice of journalism as this one does,” said Mark Walters, director of the M.A. in Digital Journalism and Design. “This program will build a community of thinkers, learners and doers ready to go beyond adapting to the rapid changes in how information is produced and disseminated – our students will be among the professionals steering the direction of online information and news delivery.”

With courses in multimedia reporting, digital media technology, entrepreneurial journalism, photojournalism, audio and video production, visual information design and more, students will develop a broad understanding of digital news production to benefit a range of communications-related careers.

The degree program benefits from its association with the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at USFSP; the department has long offered an undergraduate program in mass communications and a graduate degree in journalism and media studies. The department is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Program and application information:

“This degree prepares communicators to deliver content in the engaging ways news consumers are seeking,” said Frank Biafora, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Students will find the relevance of this degree program essential for the development of their careers in journalism and other communication professions.”

Application Bonus

In a unique collaboration, applicants to the master’s degree in Digital Journalism and Design can gain an immediate professional benefit: a USFSP-Poynter Certificate of Proficiency in Digital Media.

The Poynter Institute’s News University (NewsU) and USFSP teamed up to offer applicants to the master’s program an online assessment to gauge their web and digital media skills. Those who score at least 80 percent will be awarded the certificate. All the courses needed to prepare for the assessment are available at NewsU. For more information about the pre-assessment training and assessment program, go to

Applicants do not need a minimum score on the assessment to be considered for admission to the master’s degree, but their highest score will be automatically sent to USFSP to become part of their application package. The courses cover subjects ranging from the basics of creating a website to the essentials of news design.

For more information about the degree program or the online assessment, please visit

Walters Creates Center for Scientists and the Mass Media

(St. Petersburg, Fla.) May 21, 2010 – In an effort to improve communication among scientists and the public, journalism professor Mark Walters established the Center for Scientists and the Mass Media at USF St. Petersburg. Still in its infancy, the center has already held a workshop for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance on communicating science topics with a lay audience. Plans are to hold four workshops a year and be a resource in other ways for science communication.

Traditionally, the method to improve the communication of science through mass media was to increase scientific literacy among journalists,” Walters said. “We think the way to go is to increase media literacy among scientists.”

Walters would like the center, through collaboration among faculty members in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and with the Poynter Library, to provide assistance to scientists looking for effective ways to communicate their research and findings with journalists and the public. For example, with the help of visual communications professor Paul Wang, the center could provide informational graphics and video services for scientists in need of relevant ways to share their work. The center could help scientists transform scientific abstracts for lay audiences.

Another aspect of the center’s work will focus on examining the disconnect between public understanding of science and society’s major debates on topics such as global climate change and evolution. The center will seek partnerships with organizations to manage the public outreach or education components that are common to federal and other grants.

Walters’ expertise in science communication stems from his training as a veterinarian and experience as a journalist; he has combined the two and offered professional consulting on science communication and journalism for years. He has written books on the topic and looks at better communication as the key to greater public support for scientific research.

I want the center to help change misperceptions of science,” Walters said. “And it has to begin with scientists becoming better communicators.”

The center will operate from an office in the Undergraduate Research Labs building. To learn more about the center, contact Mark Walters at (727) 873-4544 or