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I really love to write, but I heard the journalism field is hard to get into. Where should I start?

I am thinking about majoring in journalism at Kansas University but I want to know if it's going to be worth my time. I really enjoy writing stories and designing pages for my school's newspaper. #journalism #writing #news #newspaper


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David’s Answer

The question is well posed and it's clear you love to write. However, are you a natural writer? I can help you with this question of "naturalness" by telling you about my own experiences.


Every human being is wired for language and he or she has a certain level or degree of competence to speak and write. We all do, but some of us are "naturals." I discovered to my amazement that I was a natural writer many years after I had already graduated the university with an advanced degree in physics. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of us young scientists lost our jobs and began other career pursuits.


I was lucky, maybe even talented, for I entered film school in my forties beating out many other applicants. What was it inside myself that out shined hundred of aspiring young filmmakers? I still didn't really know about my natural writing abilities at that time. Then, out of the blue, a kind lady professor showed me my true nature; while I attended her large class on the history of photography. There were fifty of us.


I was already studying cinematography in film production, with the idea of becoming a director of photography; when she held an in-class midterm where each of us had to write an essay on some predetermined topic about photography. And when she returned the following week with the graded essays, to my bewilderment, she had picked out the top two outstanding essays, one of which was mine.


Truly, the two styles of writing were completely different, my younger counterpart was logically structure and systematic, while my own way of writing is deep down in the gut, so to speak, and highly intense and personal. In fact, the professor commented that there are well trained writers, skilled in every detail, like my counterpart; and then there are the gut wrenching types, born "naturals," like myself, able to write in an imperfect style, sometimes even with grammatical errors, but still most highly communicative and effective. That me, for when I write, I really and truly write my guts out, as my hand writes, it writes me!


Are you one of those "natural" writers, Jenna? If so, go for it; and don't wait twenty five years to find your soul, especially based on the decisions about money and breaking into the industry.


Remember this, if anything: "The hand that writes, writes me." If I were you, knowing that I'm a "natural," I'd go for it big time.


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Cathleen’s Answer

Hi Jenna,


I started college as a Technical Publications major, switched to Journalism and graduated with a B.A. in Communications Studies with 18 credits of Journalism.


Writing for your paper, taking classes, looking for writing opportunities (free newspapers, non-profit organizations), and taking journalism internships will show you first-hand what type of opportunities are there and whether you are interested in them. You can also research job options through job boards and professional associations to see what's available. At a minimum, you can always do a journalism minor.


Finally, communication is typically the #1 problem in business, so the ability to communicate/write concisely, and factually will be usable what ever your eventual field. A guest speaker at an early Tech Pub class said that Journalism 101 was the most useful class of all that she took. Personally, I still use the rules I learned in my day to day business writing.


All the best!


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Kevin’s Answer

Great question, Jenna! It's great that you have a passion for writing and are considering embarking on a path to a journalism career. I too, was on this path in college. I found that writing opportunities afforded me an edge in landing my first job and helped catapult my career. Also, your student newspaper is a good platform to launch yourself into the journalism world and I would encourage you to continue to seek such an outlet in college. Make sure you are keeping clips of what you consider to be your best work and compile in a portfolio with your resume (if you haven't already done so, you might be a head in that game!).


Also, you might gain a competitive leg up by staying involved in journalism outlets in your college via connections to other reporters at local regional newspapers and broadcast stations. As in any business, who you know can only help you as you seek employment beyond college. Make those networking opportunities count and do everything you can to volunteer your writing skills to various publications and mediums. It might not seem great to do things for free initially, but those will undoubtedly help pay dividends for you in the future.


If you have a passion for writing, that will ultimately take you a long way in your career. There is a broad spectrum of careers in the field and stay engaged with your counselors and professors in college, asking them to help chart your path based on the skill set and talent they will recognize in you!


Go above and beyond and seek out those writing opportunities. They will not find you, you need to find them. You will be glad you did. Best of luck!


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Scott David’s Answer

The world needs good reporters. Don't be intimidated because something is difficult, it makes success mean something if it took hard work to earn it. The important thing is that you care about your studies, because then you'll want to dedicate the time.
It will be hard, but so is everything else in its own way. Trust your instincts, play into your strengths, and try to have fun. School is about building good habits, so do your best and know the only person who is going to get you to your goals is you. You got this!


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