Journalism at Mount Angel Seminary
By Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB
Assistant Professor, English Communication
This fall, Mount Angel Seminary is offering a journalism course for the first time. The purpose of the course is to train seminarians to write for the Seminary website.
The students are writing profiles of seminary faculty and students, covering events and brainstorming new ideas for the website. Part of the course is dedicated to the particular challenges of writing for online media and public relations.
I have been invited to spearhead this new effort in media learning that will be of great value to our future priests as they take up their vocations in the parishes. The course offers seminarians another tool for their pastoral ministry. We began our studies with a short talk John Paul II gave to journalists during the Jubilee in 2000. All journalists have the opportunity to live their Christian vocation through words and the media.
The seminarians represent a range of viewpoints from within Mount Angel Seminary. Quyen Truong is from North Vietnam and in the pre-theology program. He says the course gives him “a better understanding of information and the responsibility of those who convey it.” He also explains that he is grateful for another opportunity to work on his writing.
Brian Perez, a college seminarian from the Diocese of Sacramento, also remarked on the work of journalistic writing. “This class,” he explained, “has given me an appreciation of the process that goes into journalism.”
Brother Peter Tynan, OSB, a theology IV student from St. Martin’s Abbey, has also taken advantage of the opportunity for an elective in journalism. “Not only does it help teach us to communicate better, but it gives us an understanding of how journalists work and think. Too often journalists and the Church fail to understand one another."
The students are also discussing journalism ethics as they read The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. According to Kovach and Rosenstiel, the purpose of journalism is to provide the information citizens need to be self-governing. The first obligation of any journalist is to the factual truth of the events and the people he or she covers.
Future plans for the journalism program include a practicum for students who continue writing for the seminary after completing the course, as well as a blog that will offer resources and reflection questions for seminarian journalists.