What it’s Like to Be a Journalism Major in a World That’s Tearing it Down

By  | 0 Comments

As a kid, I always looked forward to watching the ABC World News at night with my mom. I found it so important to learn about what was going on in the world, even at a young age. While I may not have understood the depth of some of the stories, I still found myself sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the breaking news. I found the rush of running out on a scene of breaking news something enticing. These reporters were putting everything on the line just to get the news for people like me.  As I grew up, I started to look into the world of journalism as a career. I fell in love with the idea of traveling and recording world events for broader audiences to read.

However, my endeavor to share truth across the globe has already proven to be challenging and at times, disheartening. Senior year of high school was filled with daily questions from people like, “Where are you attending college?” and “What will you major in?” By the end of that year, I felt like a broken record, bragging about my own future. Broken record responses about how my career choice would support me and lead to a bright future became the norm. I received many looks of fear while someone asked how I would support a family with such a low paying job. However, nobody ever asked if my plans included a family in the first place. I rarely received a response of encouragement and reassurance that I was choosing a bright career path.

When I voiced my plans to major in journalism, I always received well-intended, but forced smiles. I also received, “You know the media is dying, right?” When you feel stressed enough about the upcoming year, hearing these things from teachers, parents or friends doesn’t help. Then, besides feeling anxious about the big changes that came with college, I also second guessed every journalism class I signed up to take. I heard repeatedly that I’d fail in a plummeting industry before my feet even touched campus.

Recently I feel like I’ve become a mom to the journalism field. I defend and protect the integrity of it from those who tear it down. In a speech class freshman year, I watched a classmate give a speech on how journalists always lie and no media source can be trusted. With my luck, I was chosen next to give my speech on how journalism is changing and how the world is looking to it in hope of the truth. I stood there and told a classroom that my field is in fact not dying, and how it’s something people should take more seriously as a career choice.

With all the courses, never-ending rejections from internships and slashing comments from others, there’s still no major I’d rather claim as my own. Majoring in journalism comes with plenty of late nights, endless editing and event attendance between classes. But the satisfaction of putting so much work into a piece and seeing people relate or learn something new is always a rush. By continuing on this path of writing I can connect with the world and learn something new everyday about the people living in it.

I realized that I wanted to be in the journalism world at a young age. But it became clearer as I aged and began to recognize the field’s importance. During my junior year summer of high school, I attended a multimedia camp at Penn State. We learned about the different fields of journalism and got first-hand experience by meeting reporters and professors who teach in the field.

We also had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of it all. One day we were in the studio of AccuWeather, a weather station located in State College. The next we were exploring Beaver Stadium, Penn State’s football venue. At the camp, they trained us on how to conduct ourselves in a proper manner during interviews. We also learned how to set up for the perfect photo angles.

This camp strengthen my ethics in journalism, but also heightened my senses for the different aspects of the writing world. My love for sports and news writing also came alive there. I saw the impact it can have on people’s lives for better or worse. The articles you write often change people’s perspectives. This can happen on large scales, as it does with issues like the refugee crisis. It can also happen on smaller scales, like with a story about a young boy fighting cancer.

Personally, I’ve experienced the joy in seeing a family’s reaction to an article I wrote about their son and his battle with terminal illness. I also realized the overwhelming sadness my article incited as people read it and relived his passing again. I wrote that there was joy in expressing his life story and the love he had for others. But there was also incredible grief in the words about his absence on this earth. Afterwards, I came home ready to give this work all my effort and not let anybody hold me back in my endeavors.

Sitting here today, I see the faults in journalism. But I also see how it’s progressing. The field feels more significant every time I get an update about a terrorist attack or world event. In my field, I’ve learned about different cultures and people. Being a journalism major can feel arduous, especially when your elected officials assert that journalists are some of the worst people in the country. However, this has only inspired me to dive deeper into the world of writing and report the truth no matter how many times I’m told that I’m in a crumbling field.

A starving junior journalism major at Penn State. Mostly likely found sitting outside of Starbucks or taking pictures of Old Main.

Enter our Monthly Giveaway

Win $100 for YOU & $100 for your student org. Sign up to enter our monthly giveaway.

!function(t){"use strict";t.loadCSS||(t.loadCSS=function(){});var e=loadCSS.relpreload={};if(e.support=function(){var e;try{e=t.document.createElement("link").relList.supports("preload")}catch(t){e=!1}return function(){return e}}(),e.bindMediaToggle=function(t){function e(){t.media=a}var a=t.media||"all";t.addEventListener?t.addEventListener("load",e):t.attachEvent&&t.attachEvent("onload",e),setTimeout(function(){t.rel="stylesheet",t.media="only x"}),setTimeout(e,3e3)},e.poly=function(){if(!e.support())for(var a=t.document.getElementsByTagName("link"),n=0;n html>