Don’t Get A Degree In Journalism

As I said yesterday, the previous weekend I was in San Antonio attending the TAJE convention. One of the guest speakers was a head hunter for a Midwestern college. He was also a really entertaining speaker. And he had a great message for high school seniors – don’t settle.

He encouraged them to do whatever it takes to get the best education at the best school possible. He also had a lot to say about the current status of journalism in colleges today. He really encouraged students to look at journalism schools where you could work on the staff of the newspaper or the college TV station and now the college media web site.

But he also said, don’t major in journalism – double major. Have another interest outside of journalism? This will let you become an expert in one area – and that will open the doors for you to become the reporter for that area at your college media and then in the professional media too.

Too many college journalism departments are being gutted like a river trout to put too much faith in that as your sole major.  When picking a college, make sure they have a good online media presence.  Check out their faculty too.  Look to see how many of them have real world experience and have not just sat in academia for years.

If they have a TV station, watch their locally produced shows.  Get copies of their newspaper.  And they must, must, must have a web site.  It should be top notch.  These are college students, they should have great, fresh ideas and slick, but fun design.

Just remember that most of the jobs in the future will not be traditional journalism.  Most J-grads will be working for web sites, media outlets or in PR.  And you will have to do more than just write.  You need to be able to shoot video, take photos, use photoshop and soundslides as well as a simple editing program like iMovie or MovieMaker.

The future will go to those who learn how to learn.  Journalism is changing every day and will keep on changing.  Get used to it.  Embrace it.  Find a niche that you are interested in – double major and be a self starter and a self promoter.

Mr. C

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