Your major is what?!?


Caraline Anderson

(From left) Jane Spencer, Haley Holz, Caroline Philbin, and Fidan Malikova talking at a Cutlass meeting.

Caroline Philbin, Sports Editor

When people ask what my major is they mostly expect me to answer with ”nursing” or “teaching”,  so when I reply with journalism it often catches them by surprise.

“That’s sad, such a dying field”, “Journalists hardly make any money”, and “The media has so many people you will never make it in” are all things I’ve heard following my answer.

With so much misunderstanding around today’s media, it is often misinterpreted that media and reporting is corrupt, unnecessary, and fading out of society, but that is all incorrect. A major in journalism is as a steady path as going into any other field, if not more.

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding journalism or communication studies is that journalists write about what is going on in the world, and that is all. But the reality is there are multiple ways communication and journalism students can distribute stories. There are three types of strategic communications: delivering news, studying news, and creating news.

People who deliver news can come from multiple professions such as a writer, news radio host, tv reporter, etc.. These professions report on everyday happenings from last night’s hockey game to worldwide conflicts.

People who study the news can also be writers, radio hosts, tv hosts, and even scientists. News analysis is most commonly found in the studies of scientific groups and professionals, in these studies and articles they have looked at data from the news and studied the effect of certain things on the public. For example, if there was a story about outbreaks of the flu, those who study the news might look into each report and story to make a conclusion about the topic.

Those who create news can also be writers, tv hosts, radio hosts, photographers, etc.. These professions might include finding a telling photograph from a tragic event, writing a solution or story about a news report heard on the radio, or creating a tv show based on current events.

No matter the form of media the goal is never to simply tell a story, the goal is always to communicate a story with a purpose and keep readers, viewers, and listeners informed. This can be accomplished using the “5 Ws”: who, what, when, where, why, and also how. Each media major is taught the correct questions to ask and the right information to share by asking themselves these six simple questions.

  • Why do you want to communicate?
  • Who is your audience?
  • When is the right time to communicate?
  • Where should you communicate (what platform)
  • What are you trying to communicate?
  • How will you communicate?

Without the media and their communications, the world would be left with at least six unanswered questions to each situation. Journalism is not a dying field, and I would argue that it will never die. As artists, writers, and reporters we are ready to change and adapt with the newest technologies in order to continue to provide the public with the information they need and the stories we create.