One of my friends once wrote on her Facebook status “Journalism is a cooler degree than yours.”
It’s entirely possible to disagree — I wouldn’t mind having a minor in geography, so clearly I think that’s a pretty cool degree; I also sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d chosen to take my degree in marine biology, graphic design, or a diploma in sound engineering. There are different reasons for why all those didn’t pan out, but that’s a different blog post.
Obviously though, from the fact that three of those four areas listed above don’t really have anything to do with journalism (though I guess sound engineering — ie being the recording technician behind the sound board could be linked in to radio/TV broadcast) it’s clear I have a wide range of interests, which translates well to journalism.
Just before I graduated, I had a friend strongly encourage me to apply for a job at a daily newspaper in a major city (he works at the sister paper in another city). He sounded confident enough in my abilities to handle the stresses and demands of the job, straight out of j-school.
We probably had about a 20-minute chat about the job, and why he thought I should apply. Even after I took this job at a twice-weekly paper, he still asked a couple of times why I didn’t apply for the other job. My main reason was that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed.
In my opinion, working at a daily newspaper in a city, I would do one thing: report. Don’t get me wrong, I love telling people’s stories. Some people are so freaking interesting.
But I chose a smaller newspaper because there’s so many more pieces to journalism than just reporting — although with just reporting, I’ve been on the catwalk and in the broadcasting booths of the Saddledome, I’ve flown in a two-seat biplane (the morning of which I watched The Buddy Holly Story, which was not a good idea) and I’ve been privileged already to hear countless stories of people, with the opportunity to hear countless more.
But I also like shaking things up a bit — photography is fun, and spending 9 or 10 hours laying pages out and copy-editing is my idea of a good day. Eventually working at a paper that incorporates video into its website is also a possibility, though I like editing and compiling video more than I like shooting.
There’s benefits to any job, I’m sure. But try to tell me journalism isn’t a cool degree, when you get to do all this.