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7 Myths about Studying Journalism at University: Debunked!

3rd June 2016 Posted by: Emily Adams

JOURNALISM is one of those mysterious careers that everyone seems fascinated by. Whether you think it’s all about exposing a scandal to the world, reporting from the scene of the crime on the TV or reading the news to millions, everyone’s got their own ideas about what studying journalism entails. We’re here to bust those myths and mysteries and give you the lowdown on what to expect from your journalism degree.

Myth: It’s all hard talking interviews and investigations

Truth: In reality, journalism involves a lot less drama and a lot more admin, especially at university – there’s the emailing, research, editing, proof reading and fact checking to think about and not to mention the constantly being up to date with the news. We’re not all paparazzi, yelling at people to get a quote or fighting to get the best picture – in fact I don’t actually know anyone who does that. At university, you’ll be dealing with local news first so everything is a lot less intense, but that’s okay; nobody likes a journalist thrusting a Dictaphone in their face and invading their personal space, they’re the ones giving us a bad name!

Myth: Journalism is a well-paid career

Truth: Warning: if you’re looking to make the big bucks in life, journalism is not the right career for you. Maybe if you’re one of those celebrity columnists in a national newspaper, things would be different, but unfortunately, because so many of us want to work in this industry, we’re all working for less to do the job we want. It’s a rude awakening but accept it now, you won’t get rich writing. You may get paid less, but you’ll be doing the job you like, right?

Myth: It’s just writing and making videos, right?

Truth: Writing may be at the core of journalism and what you spend most of your time doing, but there are a few topics that you may not have anticipated having to get your head around. If you’re really serious about entering the world of journalism, you’ll probably be expected to study everyone’s worst nightmare: journalism law. When you’re writing about other people, taking quotes and reporting on something that could be deemed controversial, you need to make sure you know how to keep on the right side of the law – slander and libel are real threats!

I promise you it’s not all doom and gloom – it’s also a very sociable degree. It’s not all sitting in a lecture hall learning the ins and outs of the law. Journalism involves being able to speak to people and get the best out of them. People need to feel comfortable in your company if they’re going to give you their best, most natural quotes and just think of all the great people you’ll get to meet and interview.

Myth: We always have a notepad, pen and Dictaphone at the ready

Truth: Having worked in an office of journalists for some time now, I can tell you that in most cases this is not true. Most people work from their memory and if they need to, they use their phone to write down notes and record interviews. However there are some of us keeping the journo stereotype alive, and I happen to be one of those people. I do carry my notebook and pen with me everywhere. I’m lost without it and though my notes are often just odd words that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but they help me remember the little things when I come to write up a review. Maybe I have a bad memory, but a notepad and pen are my saviours.

Myth: You need to learn shorthand

Truth: Most journalism degrees require you to learn shorthand, the magical journo language that allows you to write down what someone is saying at super quick speed in a series of confusing hieroglyphics.  In the real world, it’s not as necessary as it once was and it completely depends on what type of journalism you want to specialise in. If you’re set on magazines, broadcast, sub-editing, proofreading or radio, it’s certainly not as desired as it once was. I never learnt a word of shorthand and I haven’t been in situation yet where I have needed it.

Myth: A journalism degree is only good for becoming a journalist

Truth: The skills learnt in studying journalism are desired in every career – you don’t need to become a journalist, a TV presenter or a radio DJ. Just think how desirable it is to be able to write coherently and about so many different subjects.

In fact, PR companies are known for employing former journalists or those with journalism skills, Why? We know how to write, we know what journalists look for in press releases, we know how to research and we know how to get information out of people. What can I say, we’re good with people!

Myth: Journalism degrees are a sure fire route into the industry

Truth: Just like drama students dream of becoming actors or literature students hope to become authors, it just doesn’t happen for everyone. Like acting, writing is a tough industry to crack and there are thousands of students wanting to get into the same job. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen straight away, if you’re really serious about making it, keep racking up the experience, write whenever and wherever you can and don’t give up on it.

Go forth into the big wide world with your new found knowledge and good luck on your journalism journey!

Find out how to get into journalism while you're still at university in this guide!


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