Journalism Degree: What Can You Do With One?

journalism degree

Some might ask, why do I need a journalism degree to do journalism? The short answer is that doing journalism well is difficult and complicated. There are many best practices journalists need to be aware of and adhere to. Journalism is all about uncovering the truth and keeping the public informed. But it’s a lot more than just what you read in newspapers and in online articles. Today’s journalists work in TV news, websites, magazines, podcasts—anywhere people get their information.

It takes a curious mind, top-notch communication skills, and a commitment to getting the story right. If that sounds like you, a career in journalism could be a perfect fit.

Journalism degrees are an essential for those who want to work in the profession.

What Is Journalism?

You’ll hear terms like “hard news,” “investigative journalism,” and “feature writing.” These are all different types of journalism with specific goals:

Featured Programs

  • News Reporting: Delivering timely updates on events
  • Investigative Reporting: Digging deep to uncover hidden information
  • Features: Telling in-depth stories about people or issues

No matter the type, strong journalists research carefully, interview a variety of sources, and write in a way that’s clear, accurate, and fair. Ethical journalism is absolutely essential, as it shapes how the public understands the world.

How to Become a Journalist

The standard path to this career starts with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. While majoring in journalism offers the most focused training, degrees in communications, English, or even a specific area like political science can also be relevant.

College isn’t just about the diploma, though. Here’s how your coursework sets you up for success:

Media Law and Ethics

Understanding the legal framework journalists operate within and the importance of ethical reporting to maintain public trust.

Reporting

Learning how to gather facts, conduct interviews, and write clear, accurate stories across different formats (print, online, broadcast).

Specialized Skills

Depending on your interests, courses in areas like broadcast journalism, data reporting, investigative techniques, and social media give you an edge.

Beyond the Classroom

Internships are crucial! They let you gain real-world experience with news organizations, build your network, and create a portfolio of published clips.

Working on your college newspaper or website is another fantastic way to hone your skills and demonstrate your passion. These hands-on experiences can land you your first job!

The bottom line? A journalism major isn’t just some piece of paper. When you earn your degree in journalism, you gain valuable skills and knowledge that can help you succeed in this dynamic field.

What Does a Journalist Do?

A journalist is someone who is similar to a detective with a notebook (or a laptop). But it’s so much more than just sitting down and writing. They spend their days researching topics, tracking down sources, conducting interviews, and verifying every single fact. Editing their own work—and sometimes that of others—is also part of the job.

Journalists often have a “beat.” A beat is a specific area they focus on. You might have a political reporter, a sports reporter, or someone who specializes in investigative pieces that take months to uncover.

No matter their area of expertise, all journalists work under the pressure of deadlines. The news cycle moves fast, and they have to be able to adapt, work quickly, and deliver high-quality work even under tight timelines.

A journalism degree opens doors to way more than just traditional newsrooms! While many grads do become reporters, the skills you learn are valuable across industries. Here’s a look at a few in-demand jobs:

  • Reporter: The classic path—covering local or national news for newspapers, websites, TV stations, or radio broadcasts.
  • Public Relations Specialist: Helping organizations shape their public image. They write press releases, manage media relations, and craft positive messaging.
  • Technical Writer: If you like explaining complex things in simple terms, this is for you! Technical writers create instruction manuals, how-to guides, and other documentation.
  • Social Media Specialist: Organizations need pros to manage their online presence. This involves creating engaging posts, interacting with the audience, and analyzing social media data.
  • Editor: Polishing articles, websites, or other content to ensure it’s error-free and reader-friendly. Editors might work for news organizations, publishing houses, or in-house for a company.

And that’s only the beginning! Journalism grads also make great marketers, copywriters, content creators, and even teachers. The strong writing, communication, and research skills you develop give you flexibility on your career path.

Why Get a Journalism Degree? (Pros and Cons)

Journalism is a calling. It’s for those driven by curiosity, who believe a well-informed public is essential, and who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions. But like any career path, it has its rewards and its challenges. Let’s break it down:

Pros:

  • Meaningful Work: Journalists have a front-row seat to history. You might cover important elections, expose corruption, or give a voice to marginalized communities.
  • Variety: No two days are alike! One day you’re interviewing a local politician, the next you’re digging through data on a complex issue. It’s never boring.
  • Skills for Life: Journalism teaches you to write powerfully, think critically, research meticulously, and adapt to new situations quickly. These skills translate well to many other careers.
  • The Thrill of the Chase: Tracking down a lead, getting an exclusive scoop, or seeing your story have an impact—there’s a unique satisfaction to the work.

Cons:

  • Low Pay (Often): It’s no secret that many journalism jobs, especially early in your career, come with low salaries.
  • Long Hours and Stress: Breaking news waits for no one. Journalists often have unpredictable schedules, tight deadlines, and the pressure of getting the story right.
  • Public Criticism: Your work will be scrutinized. Thick skin is essential for dealing with negative feedback or even online trolls.
  • Challenging Job Market: The traditional media landscape is shifting. Graduates need to be adaptable, technical, and willing to hustle to find opportunities.

If you’re driven by a desire to inform, have a hunger for knowledge, and are willing to work hard, you might want to think about pursuing an online journalism degree. Doing so can lead to a fulfilling (if sometimes bumpy) career path. If you’re looking for a good journalism program check out these amazing online journalism degrees.

Closing Thoughts

Information is abundant these days, and journalists play a crucial role in sorting fact from fiction. They hold the powerful accountable and shed light on important issues.

A journalism major doesn’t only train you for the newsroom. It also gives you the communication, critical thinking, and research skills to succeed in a wide range of careers.

If you have a passion for words, a hunger for truth, and a desire to make a difference,  journalism could be the perfect path for you.