My D wants to be a broadcast journalist... is she only limited to a Journalism major?

<p>She's known she's wanted to be a journalist since she was a child, but I'm thinking about how limiting the journalism major can be if she doesn't break through the industry and she decides to pursue a different career path. Apparently, to become a broadcast journalist, you can major in practically anything (I've heard English, Creative Writing, Communications, Sociology, and Political Science are good ones) but will that equip her to become a journalist? Any parents out there involved in the media industry that have an answer? Thanks!</p>

<p>If she really wants to be a broadcast journalist, she needs to major in journalism as an undergrad or graduate student. To get jobs as a broadcast journalist, one needs to be able to write quickly and accurately as TV reporters may have to cover 12 stories a day over a 100-mile radius or edit and/or be able to shoot stories.</p>

<p>One learns to do this through one's coursework and by participating in student media and by having internships (the majority of broadcast internships are unpaid, but having such internships is essential to employment). In most cases, one can't get even unpaid broadcast internships without having extensive experience in student media.</p>

<p>Often students want to enter broadcast journalism because of the glamour of being on TV. Sometimes the reality of the field -- including being expected to write quickly, well, and accurately -- changes students' minds about entering the field. Consequently, there's a chance that after taking some journalism courses, your student may do what many students do when they go to college and face the reality of their majors: They may change majors.</p>

<p>If she does graduate as a journalism major, but decides not to enter the field, her writing and thinking skills will be assets in many fields including law and PR. </p>

<p>If she decides to be a journalism major, she should go to a college with an accredited journalism major because those are the best journalism programs and are the ones recruiters most respect.</p>

<p>NSM, feel free to correct me, but I've heard that one can enter journalism from just about any liberal arts major if they've participated in (and had leadership in) student media.</p>

<p>It's increasingly hard to enter the journalism field due to the economic problems caused by a loss of advertising including for broadcast media. Most media companies are downsizing. Consequently, it's getting much harder for nonjournalism majors -- as well as journalism majors-- to enter the field.</p>

<p>I think it's even harder than it used to be (and it already was very hard) to get unpaid internships because companies can't spare the time to train newbies.</p>

<p>For jobs, leadership isn't as important in student media as is the quality and depth of one's published or broadcasted work. This is because for entry level jobs, companies need people who can write, shoot or edit. In fact, increasingly broadcast companies and even newspaper companies want to hire people who can do well all three of those things. It doesn't matter if the person who's got an entry level job can manage people well: Companies would rather higher an excellent reporter or camera operator or copy editor than to hire a person who has been editor in chief of school media, but hasn't been writing, editing or shooting extensively.</p>

<p>Many broadcast and newspaper companies have job applicants take timed tests demonstrating their writing and editing abilities.</p>

<p>CIA - that is theoretically possible, yes. But realistically, the recent grads who land TV journalism jobs come from journalism programs where they also did internships, so they have a professional-looking "tape" of their work to show for their education/experience. </p>

<p>It's certainly possible to go into broadcast journalism without a specific TV-journalism program (I myself am a former English major who moved from publishing into TV news where I worked for nearly a decade.) But it's much harder to land that first crucial TV job without all the backing/connections you'd get in a specialized program. </p>

<p>BTW -- I recently spoke with a colleague who recently left TV news. He told me that TV new staffs are now called the new 20-20. You hire twenty year olds, you work them twenty hours a day and you pay them twenty thousand dollars a year. Just a little reality check ;)</p>

<p>I dont know what current hiring is like, I can only say I WISH journalists would major in poli sci or econ or history rather than journalism. So they would KNOW more about what they talk about. Id rather an awkwardly written story than an ignorant one. Also, as you probably know, Harvard, for ex, has no journalism major, but folks who majored in English or the social sciences and worked for The Crimson regulary go (or at least went) into print journalism.</p>

<p>TV/radio is different because its a different writing style than print, much more removed from "normal" writing, plus the video and sound issues.</p>

<p>With cable and the Internet journalism is becoming quite cloudy, I wish more of the people who play journalists on cable actually had studied the field. </p>

<p>A journalism degree can be combined with business or even education if a young person wants to specialize and to me, that seems where the industry is going (specialists). People with good writing and speaking skills, as a broadcast journalism major would have, can work in many different fields.</p>

<p>My son is going to Northwestern and majoring in Journalism this fall. The program seems very all-encompassing: print, online and broadcast are covered extensively. If you are concerned about your daughter's interests changing (as I am with my son), the program at NU allows for many courses outside of the major and many kids apparently double major or minor without difficulty. We were told that it isn't too difficult to transfer out of Medill (the journ school) but very difficult to get in if you start in a different major.</p>

<p>"With cable and the Internet journalism is becoming quite cloudy, I wish more of the people who play journalists on cable actually had studied the field. "</p>

<p>I sympathize, I don't watch cable. In fairness I doubt many of the folks you dont care for have solid degrees in Econ or Poli Sci or history, either.</p>

<p>And Brooklynborndad, you would be right. I was not talking about anyone in particular, but there are many cable shows that people think are news--they might even have news in the title--which really don't resemble a neutral report of what is going on in the world.</p>

<p>"My son is going to Northwestern and majoring in Journalism this fall. The program seems very all-encompassing: print, online and broadcast are covered extensively. "</p>

<p>The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern is one of the country's top programs. Pat on the back to your son!</p>

<p>Another excellent program is University of Missouri's graduate and undergraduate program. </p>

<p>Columbia has an excellent graduate program in journalism.</p>

<p>Many regard those 3 programs as the country's top journalism programs.</p>

<p>All accredited journalism programs require students to take some liberal arts courses.</p>

<p>Psychmomma, Northwestern is one of the finest journalism programs in the country: congratulations to your son. And even if he does graduate with this degree and decide NOT to go into journalism afterall, his writing skills and ability to work under pressure for a critical audience can translate very well into PR, business, advertising and law school.</p>

<p>You do not have to have an undergrad degree in journalism to get into broadcast journalism. It does help a lot to have some technical expertise - you want to know how to handle recording equipment, digital cameras, board op., etc. depending on what type of media you want to go into. Print journalism is a different story.</p>

<p>As others have said, internships are crucial, but you don't need to be a journalism/communication major to get these. She should start local and unpaid - these will be off-air and largely coffee-fetching due to union rules - but begin making connections immediately. If she's going to make it in this field, she'll need to be a skilled networker and assertive about asking to shadow reporters etc. There will be no glamour for a long time, if ever.</p>

<p>Whatever she chooses to major in, she should make sure to hone her speaking and writing skills until they are incredible. She should be conversant with current events as well as well-read in a variety of fields - literature, philosophy, science - all of which will serve her well in whatever career she chooses. If she really wants to be on the air, she should maintain a program of physical exercise so she will continue to look good on camera as she ages (please don't jump on me, you all know this is a field where looks matter, as much as we'd all like to pretend they don't).</p>

<p>If her college has a newspaper, radio station, TV club, PR club ... join, become active, build a portfolio.</p>

<p>As a Communication prof, I can tell you that our alumni who have made it in this field are the ones who not only love being in the media but also who have been willing to take the weekend shifts and the 5 AM shifts and to load equipment into the truck and pay their dues.</p>

<p>I would like to be a print journalist. I don't mean to hijack this thread, but how would the advice change if one wants to be a print journalist? I ideally want to be working for a travel magazine. I posted a thread in the main forum, but got very different opinions. There are a lot of liberal arts schools I like, but only have communication and english majors.</p>

<p>Also, how is print journalism a whole different story?</p>

<p>Lots of really solid advice on this thread. My two's the person and what they bring that counts for what happens after college. Take advantage of every opportunity to put together a writing portfolio, volunteer to help with press releases and communications with non-profits, do internships, definitely hone speaking, interviewing, and interpersonal skills, volunteer at the college radio station and TV station if they have one, volunteer at the newspaer, write blogs for your college, familiarize yourself with social media... Whether the route is through a J school, a communications program or an LAC the competition has always been great for this field and a successful job hunt will depend heavily on what experiences are brought to the table and what the student "can put out there from portfolio to personal"...even for the newly minted college graduate.</p>

<p>My D is also interested in journalism. In HS she wrote for the school newspaper and was the co-anchor of the TV news broadcast, where she also had to write the script and edit video. </p>

<p>In considering colleges, she was torn between going the journalism route vs a liberal arts education and applied to both kinds of programs. She just finished her first year at a top LAC where many famous journalists are alums (there is no journalism major offered). She plans to major in International Relations with an emphasis in Middle Eastern Studies. Christiane Amanpour on CNN is one of her role models.</p>

<p>She got an unpaid internship at a local TV station this summer here at home two days a week, and has had a lot of on the job experience - she goes out on stories with the camera operator, does all the interviews, edits the video, posts one version of her story on-line to their website, and prepares another version for the anchor to do (along with the video). She got her first on-air story last Friday - they told her going in that she probably wouldn't be allowed on air, so to get an on-air story was very exciting for her. In addition, that story was sent to two other neighboring cities.</p>

<p>She is aware her career goals may change in the future - but she is feels her education and internship are a great foundation for anything she chooses. She's also been able to interact with the staff at her internship and has had her eyes opened to the lifestyle and sacrifices that come with the job.</p>

<p>"I would like to be a print journalist. I don't mean to hijack this thread, but how would the advice change if one wants to be a print journalist? I ideally want to be working for a travel magazine. I posted a thread in the main forum, but got very different opinions. "</p>

<p>If what you want to do is to write for a travel magazine, virtually all magazines now no longer use staff writers. The magazines save money by hiring freelances, and paying them as little as possible. Sad to say, from what I have read, the payment for freelance work is decreasing, and magazines are demanding more rights to the work. In the past, you could sell your work to several noncompeting publications. I'm not sure that's possible now.</p>

<p>The paid staff at magazines are the advertising staff, editor, and I think the designer and copy editor. Usually the entry level staff position for magazines is as a copy editor.</p>

<p>If you want to freelance travel articles -- something you can do now (One of my friends sold his first such article to The New York Times travel section when he was in high school), read the book, "Writer's Market," which is readily available in the reference section of most libraries, and is also available at most book stores.</p>

<p>The opportunities for print journalists in general are shrinking. For instance, the newspaper in my city has drastically cut its staff and also has every staff member take a week of unpaid leave every few months. </p>

<p>However, if you want to be a print journalist, it's important to learn to write as well as possible. Read excellent literature -- and stay abreast of current events. The best journalists are extensive readers, and work hard to hone their writing. Revise, revise, revise.</p>

<p>Many print journalists now also have to have excellent speaking skills because newspapers are making use of videos on their on-line sites featuring their reporters talking about stories or conducting interviews.</p>

<p>It also is important to learn how to use digital cameras well. Staff cuts mean that reporters now may have to shoot the photographs that accompany their stories.</p>

<p>Fine to get an undergraduate major in the liberal arts. However, even if you work extensively for campus media, it still would be difficult to make the leap from a liberal arts degree straight into the field. The exception would be if you attend a college like Harvard or Yale, both of which have excellent student-run daily newspapers , something that's rare for colleges lacking strong journalism programs. In general, however, it's increasingly difficult for liberal arts grads to get entry level jobs in journalism. </p>

<p>Iif you don't want to major in journalism as an undergrad, then plan to go to grad school in journalism, and do your best to get the grades to get into a top graduate journalism program like those at Northwestern, Missouri or Columbia. All of those programs require you to do extensive reporting that results in published articles, so you can graduate with portfolios that lead to employment. </p>

<p>If you decide to major in journalism as an undergrad, try to go to the best journalism program that you can, and work hard for the school newspaper, doing as many challenging stories -- the type that require a lot of research and writing (not things like movie reviews or columns. Those will not get you jobs) --as you can. Try to win some Hearst Awards, the "Pulitzer Prizes" of college journalism. Only students at accredited journalism programs can compete for those. Also learn how to copy edit because good copy editors always are needed, and you learn a lot about writing by editing others' work.</p>

<p>Try to get a Dow Jones copy editing internship -- something that you could apply for as a rising senior or during senior year or grad school. Those are excellent paid internships at newspaper, and are well regarded throughout the newspaper field. To get one, you need copy editing and - preferably some reporting experience at your school newspaper, and you need to take a copy editing test. Knowing the AP Stylebook, grammar, and current events is essential in order to get such internships.</p>

<p>The Dow Jones News Fund --which offers the copy editing internships -- also has some other excellent internship opportunities, including some for rising juniors, and has lots of information about journalism careers.</p>

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<p>After 15 years in TV news, I can agree with many of the posts. Your degree won't matter as much as your internships,and your ability to hit the ground running at a TV station. They won't train you. They want someone who can shoot, edit and write as well as look and sound good on camera. The easiest way to do that is at your campus TV station, and at a small station as an intern.
TV news is like minor league baseball, you must be willing to go to the farm leagues first, work around the clock and for very little money. You must be willing to move around as well, always making a resume tape so you can move up the ladder. It is an incredibly fun job when you are young, have no kids or other obligations. Be prepared to work nights, holidays, and weekends, and to never know when you're getting home. Very few people make it far enough up in market size to make the kind of money it takes to raise a family. So, if you see it for what it is, a profession for the young and eager, as something you likely will not do the rest of your life, awesome.Look around your local markets. I'll bet very few of the on air staff is over 40. Be aware that it is going to take tenacity to land a job, iron will to keep it( new news directors usually fire people and hire their own staff), and a thick skin. I always said, if it is something you feel you HAVE to do, go for it. But if you are at all wavering, do yourself a favor and choose something else!</p>

<p>Just to show what the work day of TV news reporters is like, Pam Oliver, an ESPN reporter got her start interning with a station in a small town in Georgia. She told me that she had to cover 12 stories a day in a large region that was, I think 100 miles wide. She was not from the area, but had to hit the ground running and do things the same day like interview on camera grieving parents who'd lost their kids in accidents to covering local parades.</p>

<p>I seem to remember that her work day started at something like 6 a.m., and she had to get her first stories (note the plural) done for the morning news cast.</p>

<p>When I was a journalism professor teaching an 8 a.m. class in a state far from NYC, once my guest was the person who was in charge of writing the news casts for the Today Show. When she came to my class, she told them that she had already done her usual work day: Using her computer, and connecting to various news services, she had written the news cast for that day's Today Show.</p>

<p>Sometimes young people think that what's required to make it in on air in broadcast is to be beautiful. Being beautiful -- or at least attractive -- and relatively slim certainly help -- and may to some extent be requirements, but even more important is being assertive, and excellent, accurate, swift writers, and quick thinking, articulate public speakers.</p>