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Major in Journalism

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“God has given us the glorious task of representing him on the earth. Of showing the world what our God is really like…that our God is a creative master who loves to bring beauty out of chaos… When a writer assembles letters into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs …she is reflecting the image of God.”  ~Stephen Altrogge, writer

Some individuals seem hard-wired for storytelling. They intuitively know how to capture attention, which details to share in order to create suspense and anticipation. Through tone and word choice, they leave their audience spellbound, hanging on every word. Journalism is the art of writing and reporting for the media. Though its goal is to inform the public, it hinges on stories that need to be told and is concerned with catching and holding the attention of a given audience. Journalism can be broken down into two subfields: print and broadcast. Under these subfields are various forms of media such as newspaper, magazine, blog, vlog, TV, radio, podcast and internet writing. As a major, journalism teaches you how to investigate, collect and present information. Part of the “collection” process includes gaining access to factual material, carrying out research, conducting interviews and synthesizing information.  The presentation may be in the form of a news report, commentary, analysis or feature article. This interdisciplinary major delves into topics like global communication, law and ethics of journalism and the use of digital technology in media. 

If you are a “word person” considering journalism as a major, you may also consider whether you possess other important skills and traits. For example, are you naturally inquisitive about the world around you? This investigative drive is what compels a journalist to persist in “pulling on strings” in order to gather information. Do you enjoy research (you will do tons of it) and communicate in a concise, logical, effective manner? Are you ready to grow in this area and if so, are you able to handle the criticism necessary to improve? Other important skills in this major--and ensuing career--include strong time management (in order to meet the many deadlines), professionalism and integrity. 

As with many other majors, journalism requires you to complete a wide range of core credits. Once these requirements are met, you will start into courses related to your major and likely participate in interactive learning experiences, on-site visits to observe professional journalists in action and possibly an internship in a similar setting. You may gain experience by joining the campus photography club or working for your school newspaper or radio station. You may take electives that focus on very specific areas of journalism such as reporting on international crisis, or Middle East reporting. Other classes you may encounter include:

  • Broadcast journalism
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Feature writing
  • Photojournalism
  • Multimedia in journalism
  • History of journalism
  • Newswriting

Journalism majors land in all sorts of fields. Some excel in marketing or advertising. Others land corporate jobs in public relations departments, or in politics as a spokesperson or social media specialist for a given party or politician. There will always be a need for strong communicators in all sorts of specific areas of journalism: science and technology, sports, health and fitness, entertainment, politics, business and finance, just to name a few. Other common career outcomes for this major include:

  • News reporter/correspondent/analyst
  • Freelance writer or journalist
  • Editor/copyeditor
  • Videographer
  • Grant writer
  • Technical writer

If storytelling runs thick in your veins and you love the idea of presenting an audience with clear, compelling content, then maybe God is directing you towards a major in journalism.

           

           

A future in Journalism

By Amber Gragert

With a journalism major, there is the thrill of "the search", investigation and the hunt for new information. The world is in dire need of good journalists with a biblical world view; ones who have and seek accountability, honesty and integrity in their work. It is a high calling to spread truth to a mass audience. Are you up to the challenge? As a journalism major, you will learn all there is to know about reporting and writing. You cannot have one without the other in journalism. Another critical theme you will learn about is libel laws and the effect of the media on different audiences and, in general, its effect on the world. You will also learn about every type of journalism -  broadcast journalism, investigative journalism, photojournalism, social media and sports journalism - among others.

The more obvious professions of a journalism major are ones like a newspaper, television network, local radio, or entertainment writing online. Choosing this major will not only prepare you for those careers solely in the realm of traditional journalism, but it is also a major that opens doors to a wide variety of other careers that require good writing skills. Careers like those in advertising, business, marketing, and public relations are all examples of avenues you could take as a journalism major. The internet has caused the news to dramatically evolve over the recent decades. You have an advantage as a young person in a millennium of smart phones and social media - use it.

"There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil."
-Walter Lippmann

The evolution of news primarily being brought to audiences by way of print and television to now primarily via the internet, has created a huge surge to the news industry. This in turn creates countless jobs for people like professional bloggers and social media managers. That could be you as well!

Here are some tips for aspiring journalism majors:

1) If you haven't already, start networking now. The art of "knowing a guy, who knows this guy, who knows a guy..." is like gold for a great journalist or reporter. Start introducing yourself and talking to people. It may seem a bit daunting, but practice makes perfect. And, follow up is key if you don't hear back from someone. These are critical skills for landing a great internship or job later.

2) "Get a thick skin" - this applies aptly in journalism so get well acquainted and comfortable with criticism. The only way to get better at your craft is learning by way of critiques and criticism. Accept that it is a part of the job, glean any information you can from it, use it and move on. Journalism can be a grueling but very rewarding job.

3) Internships are very competitive, so beef up your resume with activities like participating in your school newspaper, campus radio station or perhaps your church's e-newsletter. Campus involvement is crucial!

4) Study libel laws.

5) Keep up with current world events by reading and watching a variety of different news sources.

6) Learn to be a great researcher and how to find interview sources.

7) Perfect and sharpen your editing and computer skills.

With all these skills at hand, you will be ready to take the media world by storm and set a blaze in the hearts of your audience. Shine your light and let the truth be told.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  - Matthew 5:14-16 ESV