Writers or Journalists?


#1

Are there any writers, authors, or journalists on this site? I have always been interested in this field but I don’t really know what classes to take in college, or if getting a degree in this field would be worth it. Also, what is your daily life like? I hear that journalists are constantly busy, and I wouldn’t want this to take away time from God or my prayer life.


#2

I studied writing in college, but don’t do it professionally (except for a small freelance job doing copy for a website).

Different colleges are going to call the classes different things. My alma mater called writing classes “Rhetoric”. Others use other names. I took several creative writing courses, persuasive writing courses, and English courses. Oddly enough, the one thing that was not required was a grammar course. :shrug: That’s one thing I wish I would have taken. Even though writing was one of my majors, the last time I had grammar was freshman year of high school. :o

Nowadays, I think it would be helpful to be familiar with html and some basic website editing as so much writing is web-based now. Those skills would be a great asset.

Journalism is much more focused, and probably more marketable in terms of finding a job post-graduation. It may depend on the place how busy the schedule is. A lot of journalists are freelance, so you could be as busy as you want to be (provided you can find wok).

I do think it takes a bit of determination and the ability to set your own deadlines. If you want to succeed, you have to keep at it and know that it may take some time to actually earn a living with it (and have a backup plan in the meantime). I would suggest starting a blog and just start writing about what interests you. It will give you practice in developing your writing skills, finding an audience, building your portfolio of writing samples, etc. Plus, if you manage to get a good following, it will make you that much more attractive to a potential employer. Writing is one of those professions where your name is your “brand” and building your brand is what will eventually earn you money.

To the above, I would also add that it’s necessary to study other things that interest you in addition to writing (which is why I did a double major). You want to have things to write about. It’s hard to do that if you’re not expanding your knowledge in other areas.

Best of luck to you! I’ll say a prayer for your discernment.


#3

I was a reporter for a couple of years (and am still in media, but not journalism). Unless you land a big city gig as a tv anchor, the pay is low. But, if you love the work, the satisfaction will outweigh the low pay. Typically, you start out in a smaller media market and have to work your way up. Be willing to relocate to do so. Only real way around this is to go to one of the elite J-schools like Northwestern, Columbia, or Mizzou, but would say that’s still not a guarantee. Journalism can also open the door to other areas of media that are just as interesting, but more lucrative financially (like advertising sales, which is what I do now).

If you want to go into journalism, at the very least get a minor in journalism. Spend time with the campus newspaper/radio/tv station. Ultimately, a BA from a good school with no practical experience will be worth less than a minor from mid-tier state with dozens of stories in your portfolio.

Daily life: you may get up at 3AM. If in broadcast, you may be on the air by 5AM. You’ll get assigned a story or three to go out and cover. Some may be one-stop shopping (like a court case-you can talk to the attorney right afterwards) or you might be chasing people all over town. Or, you may be up way late. You will have somewhat regular hours, but do need to be flexible depending on what’s going on. President coming to town? Be there several hours early for security and hope he’s not running late. Make an occasional off-hours public relations appearance at an event you may or may not care about to smile and shake hands with the public. Some stories are exciting; some are boring.


#4

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.