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    Journalism Major Overview

    By Zach Skillings

    Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: March 14th, 2024
    Journalism Major Overview

    Are you excited by the idea of interviewing people, producing compelling stories, and uncovering truths? If so, you may want to consider a journalism major. Journalists are tasked with the responsibility of providing the public with valuable and accurate information. In this guide, we’ll break down what you need to know about majoring in journalism. 

    Learn more: How to choose a major

    What is a journalism major?

    This major is a field of study that trains students to report and distribute information across mediums such as print, web, and broadcast. Students who pursue journalism are curious about the world, passionate about storytelling, and committed to the truth. During their studies, journalism students learn how to turn an idea into a packaged story. These stories can take the form of print and online articles, photo essays, short documentaries, audio productions, or broadcast news segments. To keep up with the changing news industry, many journalism departments emphasize a well-rounded curriculum that teaches students how to report across multiple mediums. 

    Also see: Top writing scholarships

    Coursework to expect

    Starting out, journalism majors take courses that introduce them to American mass media, basic writing techniques, and news gathering practices. Students may also take introductory courses focusing on the philosophy, principles, and history of journalism. 

    As they progress deeper into their curriculum, students continue to hone their reporting and writing skills. In mid to upper level courses, students learn how to effectively find sources, perform interviews, and write and edit stories. Journalism departments also require that students study media law and ethics. These courses provide an overview of the U.S. legal system, covering topics such as copyright, libel, privacy, freedom of information, and censorship. Students also learn about ethical dilemmas they may face and gain an understanding of journalists’ responsibility to society. 

    Journalism majors may have the option to concentrate in specific areas. These include broadcast news, photojournalism, data journalism, documentary production, and print and online writing. Additionally, many schools require journalism majors to complete an internship as part of their curriculum. Through internships, students gain professional experience in settings such as magazines, newspapers, websites, or TV or radio stations. 

    Below are some potential courses you may encounter as a journalism major:

    • News Writing and Reporting
    • Mass Media Communications 
    • Reporting for the Public Good
    • Multimedia News Production 
    • Media Law and Ethics
    • Television News Reporting
    • Broadcast News Writing 
    • Photojournalism
    • Voice and Diction 

    Opportunities after graduation

    The journalism industry has experienced a digital revolution that has led to a number of new job opportunities in recent years. Many journalists are turning to digital publications for employment opportunities, while others engage in freelance work. Of course, jobs at traditional newspapers and magazines are still available. However, physical publications may struggle to remain profitable as technology and social media continue to evolve. 

    Regardless of the route you take, you’ll find many post-graduate paths if you choose to pursue journalism. Career options include working for magazines, newspapers, web outlets, blogs, and TV news stations. Traditional roles include reporting, editing, writing, or producing. You also have the option of venturing outside the journalism industry. Journalism majors’ communications skills translate well to other fields such as public relations, copywriting, and marketing. 

    Common jobs held by those with a degree in journalism:

    • Reporting and writing for newspapers 
    • Editorial roles for newspapers, magazines, and websites
    • Writing feature articles for magazines
    • Reporting, anchoring, or producing for TV news stations 
    • Photojournalism 
    • Documentary filmmaking  
    • Freelance writing or editing 
    • Video production or editing 
    • Content marketing 
    • Copywriting
    • Proposal/grant writing for companies or nonprofit organizations
    • Social media management 
    • Communications specialist

    You also have the option of pursuing an advanced degree instead of immediately entering the workforce. A master’s degree in journalism opens doors to an even wider range of career choices. These include positions such as senior correspondent, director of public relations, executive editor, and campaign operations manager. Another option is to remain in academia and teach journalism courses at the college level. 

    Also read: What is the average starting salary out of college?

    Jobs you can get with a journalism degree

    1. Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

    Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts all work to produce broadcast news. These are the people you see when you turn on the news; whether they are the show host, the person on-scene, or an expert brought on to discuss an issue in-depth.

    2022 Median Pay: $55,960 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): -3% (decline)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

    2. Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians

    These job fields help make broadcast news possible. They maintain and operate the equipment and ensure that broadcasts have clear audio and a strong picture.

    2020 Median Pay: $53,960 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 2% (fast as average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    3. Copywriter

    Copywriters prepare marketing and advertising copy to promote goods and services. Their writing is viewed in places like company websites, blogs, advertisements, email newsletters, and social media.

    2022 Median Pay: $73,150 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 4% (fast as average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    4. Writers and authors 

    Writers and authors are a broad field; they are anyone who produces written content. Some journalists go on to write long-form books about their studies. But this could also include writers for a newspaper, or any written journalism.

    2022 Median Pay: $73,150 per year
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): 4% (as fast as average)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    5. Announcers

    Announcers present public events such as sports games, awards shows, and news. They may also interview participants or guests.

    2022 Median Pay: $20.46 an hour
    Projected Growth (2022-2032): -4% (decline)

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

    How do I know if this major is right for me? 

    If you’re considering a major in journalism, ask yourself the following questions: 

    • Are you curious about the world?
    • Do you value clear communication? 
    • Are you passionate about storytelling? 
    • Do you enjoy talking to people and asking meaningful questions?
    • Do you enjoy writing, editing, photography, or videography? 

    If you answered yes to most of these questions, then a journalism major could be right for you!

    See also: Scholarships for Journalism Majors

    Thoughts from a journalism major

    I did journalism in high school, so it was always something that was on my radar, but I knew that journalism was what I wanted to get my degree in after taking a few journalism classes at my college. I found that I loved the collaborative aspect of working with my peers to tell meaningful stories. The coursework was something that I really resonated with and enjoyed. My school also made sure to offer a very well rounded education, so that way even if I didn’t pursue writing after college, I feel confident in the tools I was given through my degree. 

    Kira Ranieri | Content writer, Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill

    Frequently asked questions about majoring in journalism

    Is being a journalism major hard?

    Every school’s journalism program will be slightly different, and therefore have different levels of academic rigor required. Some journalism programs require separate applications to apply to the major, and include grammar exams in order to graduate. Overall, if you are not a big math person, this major may be more up your alley, as you are unlikely to run into many math or science related courses. Though it is expected that you will be comfortable working with technology, especially writing and video editing software depending on your focus. 

    How many different types of journalism are there?

    There are many different types of journalism, such as broadcast journalism, sports journalism, entertainment journalism, and investigative journalism. Many news outlets also have opinion columns, which breaks away from the traditional model of journalism, where the focus is on more simply reporting events. If you have an interest in fashion for example, being a reporter on the latest trends and fashion shows may be a great option for you.

    Do I need a degree to pursue journalism?

    Not necessarily. This profession isn’t like being a doctor, where you need a license to practice, but getting a degree will make your job hunt easier in almost all cases. Plus, getting a formal education allows you to access journalistic resources like technology and equipment for broadcasting and recording interviews. Arguably one of the most important things you’ll get out of a journalism degree is connections with peers and professors, and work to put in your portfolio in order to show your expertise. All this will make starting a career in journalism much easier.

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