It’s no secret that print journalism is not what it used to be. People don’t wake up on Sunday morning and go to the corner store to get the newspaper. No one spends their morning with a coffee in one hand and USA Today in the other. Now, people unplug their phone from the charger in the morning to see Apple News notifications. Everything one needs to know about the country is held tightly in their fingertips. However, just because newspapers prove not as popular as they used to be, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to learn from print journalism.
Columnists and news journalists learned how to report unbiasedly and how to reach their audience in the best way possible; these skills don’t change even if the news is printed in a newspaper or typed across your laptop. In today’s day and age, the knowledge of print journalism is just not enough. With the introduction of digital news comes the need to know more about website platforming and media rights.
Check out CM’s guide to the print and digital journalism major.
With many classes that a journalism major must take to be successful, check out just a handful of classes that will give you a full and clear understanding of what it takes to be a journalist.
1. News Writing
News writing is arguably the most important skill you have to learn. Do you remember anything from the past 12 years of essay writing? Well, forget everything. This class will teach you a new way of writing, with the help of your AP Style book of course.
“News writing is kind of a different language. The AP Style book became my best friend,” said Penn State communications student Sarah Stachowski.
Did high school condition you to think that if you used enough big words, your teacher would think you knew what you were talking about? Sorry to say, that will no longer work.
2. News Reporting
A news reporting class is supposed to make you feel like you are placed in the center of a newsroom. Your classmates are your new coworkers and your sources are also their sources. In this class, you will learn how to ask the right questions when interviewing someone. You learn how to listen to a speech, a conference or a meeting and pick out the most important and newsworthy part of it. A news reporter has the world on their shoulders, and this class teaches you exactly how to handle it.
3. News Ethics
News ethics is a crowd pleaser! While it is not super interesting, it is eye opening. Journalists often face the question: “Will the American people be hurt or offended if I publish this?” Just saying, that’s a lot of pressure! In this class, introduce yourself to the SPJ Code of Ethics. By the end of the semester, you will know it like the back of your hand. In order to successfully face journalistic ethical dilemmas, you have to know the code. You will learn when it’s time to either drop a story lead or keep digging for more.
4. Multimedia Production
Although print journalism may be dying, it doesn’t mean that news is dying. The multimedia production class teaches you about the most effective ways to share news across different platforms. Certain information can be best explained in an article, while others need interactive images and a social media boost. Do you know how to write a professional tweet? Probably not, but you will soon!
“The most useful thing I learned in this class was how to navigate social media from a business perspective,” said Penn State communications student Frankie Molen.
Shockingly, most people get their news from Twitter—and you will learn how to deliver that.
5. American Journalism
We had to take history classes our whole lives, so we learned enough to never repeat our mistakes. The same goes for American journalism. This class teaches you about the history of journalism in the country, so students focus on what people did right and what they did wrong. A big portion of this class is about fully understanding the First Amendment and the freedom of the press. Journalists serve as a watchdog to the government, and this class sets you up to do just that.
Journalism internships take shape in many different fields of interest and mean many different jobs and positions.
1. News and Politics
When people first think of news reporting or even journalism, politics is the first topic to come to mind. You can normally find Internships in news/politics at places like The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNN, FOX, MNBC, AP Press or Politico.
Everyone who has any interest in sports often reads about their favorite basketball game or about the day of football they missed.
“I rely on the bleacher report almost every Sunday, I couldn’t live without it,” said sports lover and Farleigh Dickinson student AJ Cavallaro.
Jobs in this field include ESPN, Bleacher Report, Nextstar Media Group, Sports Illustrated and WBCB.
3. Fashion and Lifestyle
Think about Devil Wears Prada but in real life! Interning for a fashion and lifestyle magazine may seem fun and glamorous from the outside, yet it may not be that in reality. The hours are long, but the experience is more than worth it. Common places to intern include Refinery 21, Elle, Marie Claire, Society 19, CR Fashion Book, In Style and Harper’s Bazaar.
Finding a job in journalism can be very tricky. Due to the switch to digital journalism, many print journalists lost their jobs. To land the dream journalism job, networking needs to become your second language, and your communication skills must be better than ever.
1. News/Staff Writer
The news writer, also known as the mastermind behind every article you read. This person is the one who sorts out the facts, double checks and publishes information out to the public. We have to thank the staff writers for putting both political nonsense and big COVID-19 related medical terms into understandable normal people phrases. These journalists are your primary source of news, your sports writers and your fashion guides. They are your skin routine experts and can sometimes even be your therapists.
2. News Reporter
News reporters are the middlemen between the government and yourself. They are your eyes and ears all around the world. Reporters can sit in their newsroom with a camera in front of their face or they can travel around the country. They might even hang around the White House to listen to a press conference. This job might sound glamorous, but don’t doubt the challenge.
The editor for a magazine is not only the person who dots the I’s and crosses the T’s. This is the person who has the final say about the article as a whole. They decide what information writers should include in their article, and which images should accompany their story. The editor-in-chief holds the most authority at the magazine and can be a bit scary. I would personally cut off my right arm before I disagreed with someone like Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief at Vogue.
4. Social Media
Social media jobs are newer for journalists, and they prove very necessary. As of right now, the public’s main source of news is found through social media. Everyone looks to Twitter’s trending page, Instagram stories and TikTok hashtags to find out exactly what is going on in the world. Remember, a journalist’s job revolves around informing the people, and that duty doesn’t change when the platform changes. Information becomes available in seconds, and most of that information is shared through different social media platforms.
“I absolutely love my major and so many of my professors know so much and are always ready to teach and help us learn. Some professors in the department have some, let’s just say antiquated views, but I genuinely don’t think that I could have picked a better college to major in journalism at,” said Penn State senior Allie Bausinger.
“I have made really good connections with my professors and the other journalism alumni that came out of Penn State. I loved my time here and I learned so much,” said Penn State alumni Nicolette Endres.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience and my major had a lot to do with that. I loved being surrounded by experienced professors and like-minded students,” said PSU alumni Lauren Cavalli.