The news often reports about print magazines and newspapers folding and cutting staff, and how the digital space is taking reign with premium website and subscription content and news delivery. So why should a journalism degree still have value in the barren landscape of print media?
While the Internet may be king, it also has some trouble with its “royal subjects”—it’s writers. Writers and bloggers online don’t need credentials or degrees in order to put their content in front of the public eye on the Internet, and most of these folks deliver error-strewn opinions and reviews that don’t get fact checked or edited. (And no, Twitter is not a credible journalistic outlet.)
Truth is, despite good journalists seeming to be a dying breed, a journalism degree still holds merit in the media and publishing world, and there are a lot more things you can do with your bachelor’s than write and edit copy. Here are five good reasons why your journalism degree still matters.
1. You’ll know traditional journalism industry practices. These include fact-checking, editing, vetting, research and, theoretically, objectivity of the content. Most social media posts and opinions don’t go through a rigid editorial loop, so may lack passing through some or all of these processes. Journalism degree holders will uphold protocol, and agencies and media companies who want to create quality content for the Web or their clients will regard individuals who hold these skills highly.
2. You’ll have versatility. In the fast-paced world of media communications, it’s helpful to wear several hats. Often, because budgets can be as tight as schedules and deadlines, the individual with a broad spectrum of skills will win out. A journalism degree program will teach students how to write for different audiences, how to write for all media types—from traditional print to video—and across platforms, such as mobile, social networks, consumer-facing products and more. Additionally, you’ll learn basic photography and videography skills to help diversify your portfolio.
3. You’ll have a competitive edge. Journalism, no matter what venue you choose to work in, is highly competitive, and earning your degree from an accredited program may present the opportunity to network and build a community of valuable contacts who will remember you once you join the field—and perhaps be instrumental in helping you land your dream job.
4. You can branch out into other areas with a journalism degree. You won’t be limited to just copywriting or crafting clever Friday paper arts blurbs, because you’ll have the educational groundwork in place to springboard into related career fields. Some examples include teaching media communications, domestic or foreign correspondent work, television news production, media communications management, book editing, grant writing, technical writing, or specialized public relations careers.
5. Ethics, ethics, ethics. One thing credible employers value is a sense of ethics. We hear about slander lawsuits and plagiarizing in the journalism and media industries, and companies who pride themselves on their integrity appreciate employees who understand the necessity of a professional “code of ethics” in their work. Those who take the time to study journalism seriously, and complete a degree program will be trained and engrained in the nine principles of journalism, which, according to the nonpartisan fact tank, Pew Research Center, include tenets that focus on the journalist’s obligation to truth, loyalty to citizens, and the discipline of verification, among others.
Now that you know that earning a journalism degree offers more value and variety than you may have imagined, since you’re choosing to return to school to ultimately make your life better, why not go the distance and rise above the mediocrity of the field by excelling at your craft? Not only will you feel the innate sense of satisfaction and pride that doing a good job offers, but employers will likely acknowledge your high standards—and hard work.