WHAT TYPE OF JOURNALIST DO I WANT TO BE?
While still a junior in high school, I’d once overheard a senior of mine arguing her choice in major with our vice principal. She had her heart set on studying journalism, but the teacher warned her that journalism was a dying occupation to invest in.
Upon revisiting that conversation two years later, as a journalism major myself, I’m astonished at how an educator could’ve come to such a narrow-minded conclusion about the field of journalism. Though technological advancements and changing preferences poses a threat to the existence of print journalism, it’s also opened a great number of doors to journalists. The diversity of present-day media and journalism allows journalists the luxury of choosing what they want to be doing and where.
If I had to choose between traditional public interest journalism and service journalism / entertainment, I’d find myself leaning towards the latter. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself doing traditional public interest work in the future, because it’s an interesting and attractive direction in journalism. My current preference is more of a reflection of my generation, the (feel free to roll your eyes) millennials, who are currently growing up reading articles about the Kardashian’s wardrobe choices and sex tips on brief Snapchat articles. With the current trends in people’s media consumption, the future of service journalism and entertainment offers a more personal relationship with audiences than ever before.
So where does my career start? I imagine I’d start out as a staff journalist and work in an office, as opposed to being a freelancer or creating my own journalistic operations. Unlike some people, I don’t find anything suffocating about having to work in a hierarchical kind of system – in fact, I believe starting out in an office and working my way up will be instructive, character building, and ultimately prepare me for greater things.
My willingness to work in an office provides me the opportunity to work a more editorial role in journalism than allowed to journalists who work on procuring stories out in the field. I’ve grown up fairly comfortable sitting at a computer all day and have been interested in coding and graphic design since I received my first laptop in high school. I’m also a lot more confident combing through texts for errors than I am writing those texts in the first place, so I feel like an emphasis on production, design and subbing in my journalistic career would be comfortable and allow me room to exercise my interests.
If I were to be writing articles, I’d rather be a generalist than a specialist. My attraction to traditional public interest journalism balances almost perfectly with my interest in lifestyle and service journalism. With my interests following two converging directions in journalism, I’d prefer to not have to give up either for the sake of the other and working as a generalist would allow me that luxury. Being a generalist also matches well with my strengths in adaptability, as I don’t think I’d be too surprised to work efficiently, no matter the topic assigned to me.
Considering my strong adaptability, I think I’m inclined to Matt Thompson’s Storyteller type of journalist. As a child, I preferred good books to Barbie dolls and this interest translated over to my course choices in high school – in my two years as a upperclassmen, you’ll find few science classes and a good handful of English and its related classes instead. I like to pride myself in being a talented creative writer, well-versed in the English language. With the right guidance and instruction, I believe I could write some really interesting pieces.