5 Reasons to Major in Journalism

Wondering whether you and a journalism degree are meant to be? Whether you have the right personality and strengths to attend J-school and pursue a career afterwards?

The field of journalism is evolving to coincide with the digital landscape, and numerous journalism programs are keeping pace. This willingness and drive to grow, learn, question, adapt, expand and emerge are also important for prospective journalism students and professionals.

Read on to find out other reasons why majoring in journalism might, for you, be a good fit.

1. You are naturally inquisitive. Some people are just naturally curious, and intent on getting to the bottom of things. If you won’t stop pressing until you get the full story, a career in journalism may be right for you. It takes a special kind of person to not only be inquisitive, but also have the ability to get information out of people who don’t want to give it up so easily. If, in addition to this, you are excited by research—the hunt for reputable primary, secondary and tertiary sources in search of the truth—you’ll likely be a successful journalist.

2. You like to travel. While not every journalism position requires, or enables, travel cross-country or overseas, a great deal do. Plus many journalism assignments involve that sense of exploration associated with taking a trip, even if you never board a plane. You will view your hometown and region in a completely new light. You might cover the local theatre scene and find yourself going to a play on a regular basis; or, you might find yourself in city hall or a courtroom covering a weekly beat. Walking through a neighborhood, you’ll begin to notice things you never noticed before because you will always be looking for that next story. If you love excitement, and aren’t afraid to try new things, you’ll likely be a good journalist. The world’s best journalists are people who are brave, unafraid, and greet every new person and culture they encounter with an open mind. If traveling a great deal for work excites you, maybe getting that journalism degree isn’t such a bad idea after all.

3. Telling people’s stories excites you. Do you like finding out what make’s a person tick, and peeling back their layers? Do you like to listen more than talking? Deriving pleasure from getting to the bottom of someone’s story, and retelling it eloquently, is at the heart of fine journalism. So, natural storytellers, think twice before you discount pursuing a career or degree in journalism.

Top Core Skills for the Future of Journalism

The top 10 core skills identified as most important by over 2,000 journalism professionals and educators as part of the Core Skills for the Future of Journalism Poynter survey:

According to Professionals:
Accuracy (99%)
Curiosity (93%)
Write using correct grammar (93%)
Handle stress and deadlines well (93%)
Have good news judgment (92%)
Select information based on reliability (92%)
Network, make contacts and develop sources (91%)
Be acquainted with journalism ethics (90%)
Write in fluent style (89%)
Have knowledge of current events (88%)

According to Educators:
Accuracy (99%)
Curiosity (98%)
Select information based on reliability (96%)
Write using correct grammar (96%)
Be acquainted with journalism ethics (96%)
Have knowledge of current events (95%)
Master interview techniques (95%)
Have good news judgment (95%)
Network, make contacts and develop sources (94%)
Storytelling (93%)

Source: Core Skills for the Future of Journalism; by Howard I Finberg and Lauren Klinger (The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, 2014)

4. You love to write: Obviously, a love of writing is key to a career in journalism. Beyond loving to write however, a journalist is someone who needs to write. Constantly taking notes, writing in a journal, and using the written-word to process your thoughts, are all signs that you’d make a great journalist. Also know that writing in some form is integral to even broadcast, like radio and television, journalism careers.

5. You don’t relate to a 9-5 office environment: News and stories do not stop happening or brewing once the conventional work day is over. As a journalist, you’ll probably find yourself covering assignments and interviewing subjects at various times a day. Plus as a freelancer or as a telecommuter, your home or the café down the street could be your “office” most of the time, not to mention the local or far-off places you will need to visit while working on stories. That said, you may often have to work alone, without the constant camaraderie of co-workers, and have to constantly keep yourself disciplined and on task. If this sounds appealing, and you are able to work independently, then journalism may be the right career choice for you.

Conventional journalism jobs aren’t as common as they used to be. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that obtaining a job as a journalist isn’t possible. With the decline of print and single specialty jobs, comes a rise of digital and multimedia journalism careers. When researching potential journalism schools, it is important to select those that offer coursework, internships or dual degrees, that allow for these emerging opportunities. Learning such skills as photography, audio-visual recording, writing for the web, social media and website design, in addition to traditional journalism proficiencies, will prove very valuable.

A driven, talented journalist, will always find their niche.

Meet the Author

Jason - Contributor

Comments on this entry are closed.