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Journalism or Not?

Ryno26Ryno26 Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
edited February 2008 in College Search & Selection
What should I major in if I want to be a sports writer, journalism or English, History, political science, etc.? I know there's a lot out there about this, but I'm not really sure which way is the way to go.
Post edited by Ryno26 on
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Replies to: Journalism or Not?

  • weenieweenie Registered User Posts: 5,793 Senior Member
    Look up biographies online of some of your favorite sports writers. See what they did. Or email them and ask them! You might be surprised - reporters tend to return emails! :) (Reserach younger ones if you can.)

    Or maybe someone on here will have an opinion...
  • Ryno26Ryno26 Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    anyone else?
  • world changerworld changer Registered User Posts: 2,503 Senior Member
    You need to learn to write journalistically, so having at least a minor in journalism is a good idea.
  • Ryno26Ryno26 Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    Anyone else?
  • Charlie's WorldCharlie's World Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    Journalism is a bogus major, like Education. Major in English or history, that is, learn to write in an intellectually-based major. Maybe a minor in journalism, or better yet intern at a paper.
  • FCYTravis99FCYTravis99 Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Journalism is hardly a "bogus" major if you want to learn to write in journalistic fashion. Writing "intellectually-based" papers for English and history classes does not prepare you to write newspaper style - it's a completely different discipline and form that requires a different mindset of writing.

    When you write for a newspaper, you're not writing to make a perfectly-MLA-structured argument to impress your professor. You, instead, are writing to clearly, concisely and evenhandedly describe and explain an event or issue to a layman audience. If I wrote news articles like I wrote term papers, I'd be a failure as a journalist.

    Besides, every journalism program I have looked at requires students to get a broad base in other disciplines - some even mandate a minor in something else.

    As for the internship suggestion, it's very, very tough to get any quality internship without having a solid clip file of already-published pieces. So, at the very least, sign up to work for your college paper and start writing there.
  • KY Crusader 75KY Crusader 75 Registered User Posts: 215 Junior Member
    I believe that a strong Liberal Arts education sets you up for success in any field of endeavor because it helps you learn to read and write clearly and persuasively, think critically, etc. You can specialize after college. I went to Holy Cross which has no journalism school yet has produced Dave Anderson long time top sports writer for The New York Times, my classmate Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, and The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons of espn.com among others.
  • world changerworld changer Registered User Posts: 2,503 Senior Member
    I'll comment on the statements by Charlie, Travis, and KY -

    Majoring in an interest other than journalism will give you a unique background and help to develop creativity and critical thinking skills.

    That said, it really would be best to have a minor or double-major in journalism to accompany it. Journalistic writing is COMPLETELY different from regular writing. It takes years to get the hang of journalistic style and all the rules of the trade, so it's best to learn early.
  • FCYTravis99FCYTravis99 Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    For the record, I plan to major in journalism and complete at least one minor. For example, if I go to UAF, I'll double-minor in northern studies and environmental politics.

    I would also encourage the OP to take multimedia classes, because the future of journalism is going to be, for lack of a better buzzword, "convergence" and reporters are going to have to do more than write.

    If you're interested, PM me and I can put you in touch with a former community college classmate of mine who's now a staff sports writer for the Washington Post, covering the Maryland Terrapins beat. He got his journalism degree from the University of Nevada-Reno.
  • world changerworld changer Registered User Posts: 2,503 Senior Member
    UNR actually has a pretty good program. Fun school too.
  • orjrorjr Registered User Posts: 430 Member
    So if your goal is to be a news journalist, but you go to an LAC without a journalism major or minor
    you'd major in English, minor in something you love, write for the school paper and city paper, and try to get an internship? Is that what I'm hearing from the working professionals posting?
    thanks
  • geezermomgeezermom Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    From a working professional: I've changed my tune on this over the years. I used to think a liberal arts major was best, but now I believe it can work well either way. Frankly, I don't think it matters. At the Washington Post (no, I don't work there, but know people who do), you find LAC graduates working alongside University of Missouri j-school graduates--all of them smart and accomplished reporters. Any good j-school will require a strong liberal arts focus and even recommend or require a minor.
  • FCYTravis99FCYTravis99 Registered User Posts: 291 Junior Member
    Well... I would hope your LAC has at least a couple journalism classes, if not a minor. If nothing else, pick up a basic newswriting textbook and read it. Writing for newspapers is an entirely different discipline than writing for an English class, and you need to at least get the basics down.

    Definitely write for the college paper - it will give you an understanding of what you need to learn. Focus on a few fundamentals.

    For one, get used to the inverted pyramid story structure. Forget everything you learned in English comp about how to write an essay - in newswriting, you don't write an introduction, body and conclusion. You write a news lede, which tells the readers the distilled essence of the story right in the first graf.

    Also study AP style - editors place high value on clean, style-compliant copy which requires a minimum of revision. After all, every mistake a writer makes has to be cleaned up by someone else... and their time costs money too.
  • TarhuntTarhunt Registered User Posts: 2,138 Senior Member
    Journalism is hardly a "bogus" major if you want to learn to write in journalistic fashion. Writing "intellectually-based" papers for English and history classes does not prepare you to write newspaper style - it's a completely different discipline and form that requires a different mindset of writing.

    While I agree that the writing style is different, my wife (who is a former Hearst journalism scholar and publlished author) often says it's a bit like learning classical violin and then converting to country & western "fiddle." Apparently, converting to C&W is relatively easy, but it would not be so easy going in the other direction.

    She is pretty down on journalism as a major, having sat through many classes where she had to go over and over a writing style she had already mastered at both her high school paper and at a daily with a circulation of 15,000 that she edited for about six months between graduating high school early and going on to college.

    She does agree, however, that you will get your first newspaper job based on the portfolio of what you have written, so you had best work and write for the college newspaper.
  • Sam LeeSam Lee Registered User Posts: 9,449 Senior Member
    ^Okay, I may be biased but I really think the concern you mentioned doesn't apply to Northwestern. The journalism majors there can take only 12 courses within the journalism school. That means 33 courses are outside the J-school (Northwestern requires more courses than most others) and many of them have a second-major in liberal arts. I think Northwestern has the best of both world. There maybe some other schools like that too. I think people that are against journalism major here need to be aware there are programs out there that give you both.
    She is pretty down on journalism as a major, having sat through many classes where she had to go over and over a writing style she had already mastered at both her high school paper and at a daily with a circulation of 15,000 that she edited for about six months between graduating high school early and going on to college.

    I don't know where she went. But Medill freshmen are used to seeing F on their papers. Your wife may be just exceptional, but the kids in the most selective journalism program in the country apparently have a lot to learn during their first year.
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