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How to break into Journalism: What To Study In College

Journalism Spelled Out - Scrabble Tiles. Image courtesy <a href="http://www.journolink.com/" targe="_blank">Journolink</a> on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>.
Journalism Spelled Out - Scrabble Tiles. Image courtesy Journolink on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0.

Love writing? Enjoy talking to people and presenting their stories? Passionate about a particular topic and telling everyone about it? Dedicated to uncovering new stories about the world around you? Journalism may be the right career for you. Journalist occupy a very special place in our lives and society. Every day we read articles written by journalists in both digital and print media. We consume podcasts, videos, photos published by journalists. We learn more about countries, politics, law, economy, sports, fashion, opinions and more through the journalist writings, photos, videos.

So how do you become a journalist? Many students often wonder about the path to journalism. Does it start in school or college or later? You can start anytime and especially so if you are looking to be a free lance journalist.

You can follow different paths to journalism. The two paths chosen by students are

  1. studying in a journalism program, or
  2. pursuing a major of their choice and free lancing their way into journalism.

Journalism Programs

If you are a high school student or a college student, one of the big questions that arise, is if you need to be a part of a journalism program. There are 288 colleges that offer a journalism program. Some of the most well known programs are at Northwestern University , Boston University , University of Missouri-Columbia , University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Indiana University-Bloomington , etc. Being a graduate of a journalism program can help jumpstart the journalistic career of a student

Most of the journalism programs teach students about the art and science of writing, crafting narratives, the various multi media tools needed to succeed as a journalist, marketing and a curriculum based on a broad range of subjects ranging from technology, law, sports, history, language, economics, etc. The journalism programs often have specific internships, study abroad programs that can help students secure their first journalistic experience. Many of the programs also have partnerships with local newspapers, magazines, radio and television channels where students can intern and perhaps find their first job.

One of the biggest advantages of a journalism program beyond that of internships is the curriculum focused on learning multimedia skills. Today, journalism blends writing with videos, podcasts, moving graphics, web publishing and even analytics. A journalism program will give their graduates a working knowledge of the various aspects of current journalism as well as the opportunity to do deep dives and specialize in any of the forms of publications.

Freelancing After Majoring in Any Subject

The heart of any journalistic endeavor is storytelling. The ability to uncover a story, describe and present it to an audience, to make the audience care about the topic … that’s what a journalist aspires to do through their publication. The art of storytelling is not confined to journalism programs. You can major in any subject and become a journalist. The path may be a little harder and you may have to work harder to find your internships, but it is doable. Journalists can pursue disparate majors such as history, literature, economics, anthropology, English and foreign language, science as well as bring their experience in any extracurricular activity to initially focus their journalistic expression.

In conclusion, journalism programs have much to offer and are a great way way to get into journalism. However, if you are not a student of journalism, freelancing is a different way to build a career in journalism. Read our post on freelancing to get some helpful tips.