Why Journalism?

It’s been almost exactly a year since I started studying journalism at university. As I’ve written before, I love journalism. However, had I known all of the things I would be doing in my classes beforehand, I may have thought twice about it. It’s lucky I didn’t know, though, because I ended up jumping in headfirst, fears and all. I love so many things about journalism: the process of piecing interviews into a story, the ethical discussions and debates and the actual act of writing, to name a few.

When people ask me why I decided to study journalism, I never really know what to say. I’ve always enjoyed English and writing and I have hilarious short drafts in old notebooks to prove it. I had my first article published in a local newspaper when I was in grade six and then I continued writing regular articles. Some of my teachers and friends started assuming that I would study journalism. I guess I eventually decided that I would study it, too. I can’t recall what I wanted to do before journalism; I think I considered creative writing, teaching and, at one point, marine biology (out of the blue, I know, but I really love sharks and the ocean).

On a basic level, I think I chose to study journalism because it involves writing. Although I enjoy all of the parts of the article writing process, from brainstorming and pitching story topics to interviewing sources, my favourite part is always looking at my list of transcriptions with highlighted quotes and starting to write. At a certain point, the quotes and ideas come together and the words just start to flow. It’s a different kind of writing than fiction or blog post writing; but it’s incredibly fun, and rewarding, nonetheless.

I think another reason I chose to study journalism had to do with the fact that it requires a sense of curiosity. In the essay portion of my application to journalism school, I wrote about how there is an endless supply of stories in the world around us. Anything can be a story—from neighbours rescuing baby bunnies in their backyard to citizens across a town mobilizing for a fundraiser for the local hospital. We can capture all of these stories and tell them to the world; but only if we are curious enough to discover them in the first place.

Being curious means asking questions. It means wondering about why things are the way they are, questioning the seemingly obvious and the evidently obscure. Being curious makes for great journalism. When a journalist wonders why something is the way it is, they ask questions; and then they write about their findings for the rest of us to learn. This applies to investigative journalism especially, but curiosity is key across all types of journalism. After all, if you don’t want to learn more about the world and the people, systems and places in it, then why would you want to write about those things?

While I may not know all of my reasons for choosing journalism, after studying it for one year I can definitely list all of the reasons why I’m now happy that I chose it. Something I didn’t expect was the growing importance of journalists in democracies; as we’re seeing in the States, journalists are incredibly valuable in holding politicians and leaders to account. I’ve loved leaving my comfort zone in doing interviews with strangers, and learning new things like multimedia. Journalism also allows me to draw on my other interests, like politics and law, which makes it even more fun for me.

As I head into another year of journalism, I’m both thankful for my decision to study it and excited for what lays ahead. I’ll definitely be writing more blog posts about my experiences studying journalism in the future, so if you have any questions about my studies, feel free to ask in the comments!

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46 thoughts on “Why Journalism?

  1. I hope that at the conclusion of your studies, you grasp the concepts of personal bias and lack of objectivity that exists in journalism today, especially in such a highly charged political climate.

    Examples of Bias. Bias is a tendency to favor one person, group, thing or point of view over another, often in an unfair way. Bias can be a personal opinion or a more public opinion, such as a news story, that only presents facts that support one point of view.

    1. I definitely think bias exists in journalism to an extent; it’s important to tell more than one side of a story. But it’s certainly difficult to be entirely objective in today’s political climate; some have argued that events such as Trump not immediately condemning the white supremacists in Virginia cannot be reported on in an unbiased manner, since in journalism we hold the basic standard that everyone (of every race) is equal and should be treated as such.

      1. I agree with your point about Mr.Trump not making the immediate connection clearer in the beginning, a critical mistake which makes it equally difficult to remodel. Your statement about journalists holding basic standards about race equality, those are universal tenets that are not unique to your profession, but a moral one, that we as a species choose to idealize and nurture (hopefully,) and enforce at times, the concept, that “all” are created equal.

        You can be “unbiased” if you chose not to be a journalist evangelical, such as a Jorge Ramos of Uni-Vision, just report and write, let your reader’s decide on their own conclusions.

      2. I think simply “reporting and writing” certainly has its place, but on my blog I write my opinion just like a columnist for a newspaper would. I also think that because those moral values are universal, journalists are not being “biased” if they abide by them (and call white supremacists out for being racist, for example).

  2. I always wanted to study journalism when I was younger. Unfortuntately the places I wanted to study and write about were war zones (i.e. Afghanistan, Iraq) and I admire the women who report in these places so much. It always scared me and I decided to go a different route. That’s wonderful you’re loving studying it though! I wonder where it’ll take you 🙂

  3. Journalism is a great major! I wish I would have stayed in college. I was studying journalism as well. The curiosity was my favorite part. There’s more than just a story, too. You get to learn in the process.

  4. Hi Sherina
    Interesting insight to journalism. I loved reading your thoughts. Reading the first para of your blog post, I perceived that there are some challenges involved in this study.
    You wtote “had I known all of the things I had been doing in my classes, I may have thought twice about it”
    Just curious what are some of the challenges involve in your study?

  5. This may sound strange but I still can’t get over the fact that I wasn’t the one who wrote this. The only difference between us is that I don’t study journalism, but what you said about writing mirrors my personal experience with the activity. Writing is awesome – one of the most creative things you can do. Keep going!

  6. I also want to become a journalist and I’m starting to figure out what type of news I’m interested in. Where do you see yourself working in the future or what kind of work do you hope to do?

    1. Good question! I can definitely see myself writing about politics, crime (like covering court cases) or doing opinion columns! I’m trying to keep an open mind though because there are so many possibilities! What about you?

      1. Covering court cases sound exciting! I’m interested in hard news too like crime and politics but I also like writing features stories. I’ve actually found it’s harder for me to write opinions than news which is not the case with some people but WordPress is helping me with that and let’s me experiment.

      2. Ooh very interesting! I’m hoping I get to write more feature pieces this year. Blogging is definitely a great way to experiment with different styles of writing/journalism! 🙂

  7. Do you thinks someone interested in journalism can acquire the interest to be curious? Also, do you think that you can become a journalist even if your writing skills are not the best? It is very inspiring to hear what’s been your experience with journalism.

    1. Those are great questions!! My instinct is to say that as humans we’re all naturally curious–I think as journalists we can ‘fine tune’ this curiousity (ie. by being aware when we see story ideas around us). As for your second question–while strong writing is certainly an important part of journalism, there are also lots of other aspects other than writing–broadcast (videos), photography, multimedia, etc. These still involve writing, but I think as long as you are willing to put in the effort to improve your writing then you are fine!

  8. Hey there, I’m Dave. I’ve been studying three years in arts management and I remember in my first year I had this dream about myself being a contemporary art curator in the future. I always passionate about this curatorial thing without actually any reason to argue with. But then, one day I decided to attend this internship program in one organization that focussed on visual art archiving in my country and at that very moment I started to grow interest in journalism activity. I love interviewing people, because in that way you have all the possibility to find things that you never heard. For some reason it is lovely to start a conversation with people, especially strangers. Because every person had their own unique narratives about their lives, hobbies, occupation, beliefs, dreams and so on. The tricky part is about writing itself. Sometimes I had too much stuff in my head that makes me hard to choose whether to start with while sometimes it feels like things are too obvious that everyone already knew about the information I wrote, and at that time I’d be like “goshh, why am I doing this?!” luckily I didn’t end up punching my own face. My question would be how do you convince yourself that the things you’re doing is important and how long it takes untill you find out your own personal style of writing?

    1. Hey Dave, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I definitely agree with your thoughts on interviews. I was nervous about them at first, but it’s so interesting to learn other people’s thoughts on subjects you might not normally discuss! As for your first question: I don’t know if I ever had to “convince” myself that my writing was important, per se. I have always loved writing because it’s a way to express myself and share my opinion. That being said, reading comments on my blog (like yours!) reminds me that my writing is reaching people, which is a sign, at least in my mind, that it is important. As for my personal style of writing, I’d say it really developed once I started this blog. Like the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” I’d say that my writing is constantly evolving, especially since I’m still in school and still learning about journalism and writing.

      1. That is so simple yet meaningful. Never thought of it before, totally agree with you. I guess I was just terrified of writing stuff because somehow it seems like it is too late for me to start writing now. But then to realize that you can write because it is something enjoyable really help me to build my confidence. Thanks Sherina!

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