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The Breakdown

Journalists capture and chronicle the times in which we live. They act as watchdogs and recorders, critics and narrators. Importantly, they keep us abreast of the present, allow us to reflect on the past and help us brace for the future. As a journalism student, you’ll learn how to become a part of that larger conversation and spark a dialogue with your audience.

If you decide to pursue a major in journalism, get ready to devour all topics media related. Indeed, you will take classes in criticism, ethics and history as they apply to (and are seen through the lens of) media. Certainly, the theoretical will be balanced with the practical and you can expect to take a number of courses in writing and reporting. Further, you’ll have the opportunity to study a variety of journalistic media, be it print, digital or broadcast. It’s also important to note that journalists are expected to have a firm general knowledge foundation. Therefore, you should anticipate having to fulfill a handful of requirements outside of the journalism department. Finally, some programs also mandate that their undergraduates complete an internship.

There is no doubt that journalism requires exceptional critical thinking and writing skills. In addition, you should demonstrate a curiosity for the world around you as well as an ability to maintain objectivity. Of course, stories can also materialize quickly and turn on a dime, so flexibility and spontaneity are also key characteristics to possess. Finally, you’ll discover it’s beneficial to be an individual who thrives under tight deadlines. After all, deadlines are a mainstay of journalism.

Nuts and Bolts

Journalism majors typically enroll in classes such as Newsroom Management, Communication Ethics, Social Media Today, Writing the Complex Story, Magazine Reporting and Writing, Media Law and Communication, Photo Storytelling: Making a Powerful Image, TV News Production, News Editing, Advanced Reporting: Beats and Investigations, Public Opinion Research and Online Journalism.

Decisions, Decisions…

At their core, most journalism majors are storytellers interested in understanding and unearthing society. Therefore, they also might be interested in disciplines such as mass communications, creative writing, comparative literature, English, history, photography, political science, public relations, radio/television/film, psychology, visual communication, studio art and American studies.

What’s Next?

Journalism majors take heart; though you have chosen a competitive industry know that your skills are applicable across a variety of professions. Of course, many journalism students seek reporter positions within any number of media outlets – from local papers to magazines and online journals. Journalism majors might also find jobs as editors, helping to shape stories and pitch ideas. Further, graduates can find employment as news analysts, advising reporters and editors on story trends. Journalism students who pursue a career in broadcasting might eventually become program directors overseeing the production of each broadcast, managing the content and coaching the on-air talent. Beyond journalism, a handful of majors sometimes bring their critical thinking and writing skills to public relations firms or the marketing departments of any number of companies. Still others might land positions within the publishing or advertising industries. Regardless of where you ultimately end up, know that your journalistic education will serve you well.


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Don Munce