Journalism degree can be useful in many areas of life
I knew when I added journalism as my second major during my sophomore year that I would not be pursuing a career in journalism. My talents and passion lay elsewhere, in pursuing a career in film and TV as it would turn out, but I would not end up realizing that until a third of the way through my last semester of my senior year. I would end up sometimes regretting my decision to add journalism to the workload of my original major, communication studies.
Journalism as a program is difficult and oftentimes very tedious work that revolves around AP style, something I know I still do not have a proficient grasp of. Journalism is a very old profession, and at times that history is exactly what can make the subject so difficult and arduous to get through. But for all of the work that it was to take on this major, I do not regret it. Now that I am finally crawling out the other side and graduating with this major, I am doing so with a huge appreciation for and knowledge of this historical craft.
One of the first lessons that is driven into young journalism students is the duty journalists have to the people that they serve. Journalists work for the public and are (or should be) beholden to the readers first and foremost. This basic and founding tenet of journalism is because of the role that news and journalism have in our society; we largely could not live or function without it.
Journalists have a huge role to maintain in our society, a role so important it is even protected in our constitution. For those who have not memorized the amendments of the constitution yet, let me refresh your memory. The First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The press has the vital job of getting information to people so that they can make decisions that they need to live and function in our society. This includes information such as candidates to potentially vote for, breaking news of storms or accidents and world news.
Journalism keeps an eye on those in power so that we know, for example, when Ben Carson spends thousands of dollars in American tax money on furniture for his office. Journalism also has the responsibility of representing all of society and our interests in the news and stories they cover. Journalism is a vital and essential aspect of our world. According to our president, however, journalists, or to use his general term of “the media,” it is one of the most evil and attackable features of our society.
Contrary to what our president says about journalism, or the “media,” it is not the enemy or a threat to our society right now. It is the peoples’ greatest asset, or weapon, that we have available to us in the era of Trump. If you are looking in the right place (and my advice is to look in the places that Trump says not to look, such as the New York Times) you’ll see that the New York Times and many other news organizations have done excellent work in fact-checking, keeping an eye on and decoding the antics of the current administration for the American people.
The irony is that as the need increases for more journalists and news organizations to keep in check and report what is going on in Washington and other areas of the world, more and more news outlets and newspapers across the country are folding. Quality, truthful, ethical journalism has never been so important or so missing in action.
Journalism may not be what I will pursue after I graduate, but it will be something that I appreciate and support my entire life. The major has led me to exciting opportunities, such as writing a column and having a radio show, but it has also been the absolute most challenging part of my college experience. I am fortunate to have studied it these past three years. I am fortunate enough to have achieved a deeper appreciation for this profession than most will in their lifetime. My journalism degree has equipped me with the knowledge and skill I need to not only be a better citizen of the world but to also a better consumer of news and information. These qualities will impact every aspect of my life and also makes this journalism degree the best investment I might ever make.
Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.