The way I explain it to people on my tours is that journalism is more about the making of communication while communication studies, as the program is called, is more about the study of communication.
Journalism program has three tracks: magazine, newspaper, or broadcast. You participate in an internship for a quarter at a publication or station somewhere in the country--some students even go abroad for this.
There are loosely defined "tracks" within communication studies that you can focus your curriculum on: Organizational Communication, Communication Industries and Technologies, Rhetoric, Media and Public Culture, Relational Communication, Media and Politics, and Argumentation and Advocacy.
Journalism isn't nearly as narrow as it might seem.
For the class of 2011, to graduate with a degree from Medill, you need to complete 45 courses, but only 12-14 of those courses are journalism classes. The rest are distribution requirements, electives, etc, all of which can be taken from other departments.
Even better, any electives or distros that you take for your Medill degree can be double-counted toward another major, so it is RIDICULOUSLY EASY to double major.
But you can only double major through Weinberg, AFAIK, so you can't do Journalism and Comm.
I'd say if you want to be a journalist- ie. broadcast reporter, newswriter or magazine writer/editor/whatever, do Medill. If you want to do another communications-based profession, like business, negotiations, political speech, debate, etc., then comm is better. Just because Medill has such specific core classes- "editing and writing the news" and so forth- although there are electives, the time you have to spend putting into the core classes is ONLY worth it if you want to be a journalist, IMHO. Because those are intense classes.
Understand that only about half of Medill graduates will pursue purely traditional journalism careers. Much of the value of Northwestern's program lies not only with its flexibility (the ease of double majoring was already mentioned) but with the writing skills that are developed and are internationally renown. These are skills highly valued not just in journalism, but in careers as diverse as business, law, and communications.
Having said that, the Communications Studies major at Northwestern is one of the best of its kind in the country. It manages to strike possibly the best balance between theory and pragmatism you’ll find at any elite school making it very appealing to employers (and probably you). If writing is not something that has any special appeal, you may be better served there.
Finally, do remember that the class attrition rate at Medill is ridiculously low – typically all of 1-2%. Because of this, only a few kids yearly are allowed to transfer in. The small size of several of the writing intensive and editorial/production courses mandates this restriction. Moving over to the School of Communications is generally much easier accomplished.
No, if you double major across schools you MUST be in the non-Weinberg school. Comm's relatively easy to transfer into though.
And mo_running, Medill is tougher, not necessarily because of grades but it is more specific in that a passion for what the school offers, journalistic EC's, etc. are more important for Medill than communication-y things for Comm. (Not that they won't help, but they're more of a must for Medill.) And Medill is the hardest school to transfer into as well.