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8 Myths about Journalism Students – Busted!

30th June 2017 Posted by: Lina Cárdenas

“LAWYERS are always trying to win”, “doctors diagnose every person they know”, “models never eat” – there are general beliefs that people have about most professions. They are often myths that are maintained for generations. Even current students need to cope with the fact that they’re going to be teased with the clichés of their career choices. Like every myth, some could have a hint of truth and some could be completely false.

Journalism students need to deal with some of the most outrageous occupation myths. Here is a selection of few:

1. “Journalists always have a notepad and pen at the ready”

Lecturers – who are generally ‘ancient’ journalists – always advise their students to be ready to collect information on the go, as news can happen anytime at anyplace, hence the need to be prepared. In reality, that’s not always the case, as not all journalists are always looking for a story. Also, with the advance of technology, mobile phones have replaced the notepad and pen. So, the myth could be partly true – but updated.

2. “Journalists would scratch each other’s eyes out for a story”

This belief may come from the portrayal in many Hollywood films like Anchorman or Bruce Almighty, where the characters would do whatever it takes to sabotage each other in order to avoid sharing the spotlight. In this field, the person who has the best story has the lead. However, jealousy, competition and envy happen in any career. So, depending on the person, this myth might be true – but is not exclusive to journalism.

3. “Journalists would do whatever it takes for a story”

This is extremely connected with the previous myth. And again, what a person might be willing to do in order to achieve something depends on their personality and moral values. But the truth is, it’s very obvious that some journalists have done questionable things to get a story. From being spat on, going undercover and jeopardising their own lives, to deceiving others, lying and upsetting other people’s lives. This myth could be true.

4. “Journalists are bad in maths”

It’s true that in journalism there isn’t a proper cause, like in biology or engineering, for numbers to be taught and perhaps that could be the origin of this belief. Nevertheless, to be accepted in a higher education programme of any university, the student must have passed some kind of tests with maths included. Maybe journalists – excluding the ones who specialised in financial topics – aren’t mathematicians and can’t solve the most complex calculations. But surely they aren’t as bad as some people believe? Therefore, this myth is false.

5. “Journalists like to presume their knowledge”

One of the most interesting things about studying journalism and practising it is that it’s possible to see the world with another perspective, a more critical one. Maybe that insight makes journalists question more about the ulterior motives of people, life and situations. By doing so, they could come across as a bit cynical to some: however it is because they may want to open people’s eyes to the reality of the world. So, this myth is false.

6. “Journalists are alcoholics” 

This is a generalisation in many countries (even in my country, Colombia). This cliché probably started from the ‘ancient’ journalists and, to be honest, a lot of them did like to drink a bit too much. No one knows exactly why past journalists liked to indulge themselves with alcohol – perhaps because they were invited to all those cocktails after press statements as a way of bonding, or because they drank with a source to get information out of them – but the truth is that times change and current journos are engaging themselves in a healthier lifestyle. So, this myth is false.

7. “Journalists are gossips”

This is one of the most offensive beliefs for journalists and journalism students. Actually, they could get super mad when called ‘gossips’. Some people believe that because journalism is directly connected with the release of information it means that everything said to a journo will be displayed publicly! The possibilities of that happening are the same as if you are telling something to a non-journalist. Nevertheless, it’s to be acknowledged that the things some journalists have done are deeply questionable. But journalism students actually have Ethics modules, where they are told what to do and what the boundaries are within the career. In fact, there’s always the risk of falsehood with gossip and a true journalist is always committed to the truth and going straight to the source to find it. Hence this myth is completely false.

 8. “Journalism students want to be famous”

Just because journalism students could get the chance to work in a media outlet – like press, radio or television – and be recognised for it, doesn’t mean that popularity is the main aim for studying this career. For a journalist, information must always get the spotlight, not who displayed it. Therefore this myth is false.

If you are interested in studying journalism, why not check out these articles:

Top UK Universities for Journalism: Undergradute

Top UK Universities for Journalism: Postgraduate

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