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Is it better to study journalism/communications or Academic subjects to become a Journalist?

So basically, the dilemma here is that I have recently decided to try to become a journalist, and I was wondering if it would be better to do an academic university degree (e.g. international relations, politics etc.) to build a broad foundation of knowledge and then transition to journalism, or to directly study journalism/ communications in order to equip myself with the skills/ techniques required for journalism? Any help would be very much appreciated!
#july20 #journalism #communications #reporting #internationalrelations #politics #academicVSvocational #career

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Ariana’s Answer

Hello Ethan!
Great question! A lot of what everyone said is definitely great advice. I would also suggest on not only relaying on school and college groups, but getting an internships that will immerse you in areas that you like, but also need to learn. Internships outside of school, offer a lot more opportunities and knowledge then some classes can. Also, they are a great way to network and prep you for the business world. A lot of people who get internships at certain stations, companies etc are 80% more likely to get hired back once they graduate. Especially if you made a good impression and willing to learn.
Hope this helps!
Good luck!
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Nupur’s Answer

Hi Ethan,

There are several types of journalism, and it really depends on multiple factors. One thing to consider is: are you interested in political and global affairs? If you were to imagine yourself as a journalist, would reporting on world/political affairs be your preference?
A degree in International Relations would not only help with a career in journalism, but could also help with careers in the government, education and even in the non-profit sector. On the other hand, a degree in Journalism would open up a career for you to be any kind of journalist you'd like to be. No subject would be off limits: sports, fashion, business, food etc.

However, having said this, if your heart is set on you becoming a journalist, you'll get there with a degree in either of the above fields!

Nupur recommends the following next steps:

Would you rather have options other than Journalism as a career? Maybe options to work in the public sector or even in an academic capacity?
Or would you prefer to pursue your dream of becoming a journalist with many different options for your subject of interest?
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Melody’s Answer

Hi! I suggest that you need a combination of both types of courses in order to help you become a professional journalist. I was a Broadcast Journalism minor during my undergraduate tenure, and those courses helped me to learn how to record broadcasts, do stand-ups in front of a camera, present myself professionally when with interviewees, etc. Those courses also helped me to learn about "the business" of communications. The other courses that you mention were part of my "core courses": those courses that many undergrads take during their first two years of a four-year program, to assist them in acquiring a "well rounded" combo of knowledge and perspective about the world in-general. Good luck!
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Tiffany’s Answer

I would recommend Journalism with a minor or minors in areas that you would like to focus. For example, I majored in Journalism, with a minor in sports communications. I now work for ESPN, which combines my love of journalism and sports. A friend of mine majored in Journalism with a minor in fashion and now writes for a fashion magazine. Honestly, your internship and experience is going to be what lands you the jobs, so get involved with as many things as possible - school newspapers, local stations, etc.
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Ethan,
Great question, thank you for asking. I would agree with those who recommend studying both. I wanted to be a broadcast journalist so majored in broadcasting with double minors in journalism and political science. I decided having that additional academic background in poli sci was critical after listening to so many of my classmates who were planning to be reporting the news with absolutely no understanding of how our government works (of course, if you are interested in sports reporting, I would recommend separate studies in that field). I highly recommend additional studies in whatever your area of journalistic interest so you are able to represent yourself as a credible source as well as know enough to ask the right questions.

Good luck!
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Devin’s Answer

Hey Ethan! As a political science undergraduate, I met a ton of journalism majors in my political science, international relations, and economics courses. If you structure your class schedule well, you should be able to take a wide range of courses to accomplish your goal of acquiring a deep understanding of current events. More importantly though, I would encourage you to join your on-campus newspaper, radio station, or student television groups to get real experience in producing journalistic content. You could also join writing clubs to hone that skill as well. Best of luck!
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Don’s Answer

TL:DR -- yes, to both!

The best thing you can do to become a professional journalist is to study the fundamentals, get real-world experience (have you joined your school newspaper? Start today if you haven't!), and to have a broad and well-rounded knowledge base. As a journalist you'll likely be covering stories in a variety topics, so having a business, marketing or other minor is a great career strategy.

There isn't a strict recipe for success in the field. There are tons of great journalists who didn't major in Journalism, so the best advice I can give is to find an area of study you're deeply interested in and passionate about.
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Deena’s Answer

As a former student of Journalism, I would suggest taking up a Journalism-specific course. The journalism industry is vast and you could work for Print, radio, television, or online mediums. A Journalism-specific course will prepare you for all of these and you can then choose the field you want to work with. It is also good to not that, most journalists today work with more than one medium. For example, a print journalist may be required to prepare the same articles for blogs and social media posts as well.

So choosing a journalism course will help you understand the various facets of this industry and help you better understand where you want to work.
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Jagruti’s Answer

While it's great to get strong fundamentals in journalism or communications, nothing beats on the job training - so hone your curiosity, get involved in uni papers or something similar, practice your writing, stay clued in on trends, read widely and look for internships.

Journalism or communications courses today are probably not what they were like a couple of decades ago. I joined a communications course because (in my own words) I liked "words/writing" . What I *did* learn is what aspects I enjoyed or didn't (eg I didn't enjoy the tediousness of broadcast/television journalism) and then majored in public relations. I still think my internship at a PR consultancy was one of the most valuable courses in my whole uni career because I realised that one needs to very quickly translate the technicalities to action and very quickly get up to speed on different subject matters (eg financial journalism, aviation/tourism, technology, etc). That's your major challenge .

Having said that - while not all journalists have a journalism degree, they ALL keep practicing and honing their writing skills. Regardless of the platform they publish on.
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