In Defense of the Journalism Department

By Zachary Wright
Editor in chief

Once in the Gage building on Michigan Ave, the journalism department now lives on the Wabash side of the Auditorium building. Photo by Zachary Wright.

My time with this school is coming to a close. Graduation is approaching ever so slowly. We all know how it feels when you want something and it’s just barely out of reach. But as I continue to attend class and finish long-term projects I’ve put on hold until the last second, I often hear classmates and fellow students tell me how they feel. They’re stressed out, anxious about grades. Essentially, they project their inner worries about the future, about life after graduation.

This is a feeling I’m sure nearly every college student has felt. But sometimes I hear something along the lines of, “I’m not learning anything,” or “Our department just sucks.” And I feel like it’s an unfair statement.

Unfortunately, every department is at the mercy of its budget. I’m fairly confident if the journalism department could, they would make the necessary improvements and investments. But let’s not pretend a lot of students are involved anyways outside of class.

It’s understandable. People are busy. We all have other classes, some of us even have internships or part-time jobs. But most often, I hear the statements mentioned above coming from people who simply don’t try. There might be more investments made in the department if more people were involved in clubs such as the Blaze, RU Fire or even the Torch.

A lot of journalism students want to delve into broadcasting, and yet, no one joins RU Fire. Now, I understand the video cameras are a bit dated and our production studio is in an inconvenient location, but there are still benefits in learning.

Even with older equipment, you can still learn broadcast essentials, such as refining your voice, appropriate camera angles and the software necessary to edit. It’s taught in class with Prof. Billy Montgomery, who mentions RU Fire every day, but software like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro is like learning a new language.

The more you use it, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the better you become. And quite frankly, there’s really no excuse on why my fellow students can’t learn the software. Not to mention, the communications department offers powerful computer software, such as the whole Adobe Creative Suite, entirely for free. For free. We literally have this at our disposal, but yet, I see very few people putting in the work. Everyone bolts out of class the moment the professor says class is over.

A lot of students dream of doing great things in this field, but I feel a lot don’t understand how important it is to get experience early. The Torch, the Blaze and getting internships in their actual fields provides this. If I hadn’t gotten involved in the Torch, I truly believe I would not be receiving an editorial position in Boulder, CO right after graduation.

In journalism, your GPA only gets you so far. Experience gets you even further. My time with the Torch has shown me this. I have learned how to communicate effectively through the written word, how to approach total strangers for a story, how to set up interviews, how to request access into an event and so much more.

My internships have also been beneficial to me. I hear about students given “internship” positions that manage a social media account, but they aren’t taught the analytics or content management systems because it’s offered from family members who own a business or something that doesn’t relate to their field. What benefits are there to this? Just to fill the internship requirement? By taking the easy route, you don’t learn anything and would be embarrassing to show a potential employer of a prestigious organization, such as the New York Times or Washington Post. It’s important to feel pride showing off your work, but there is no sense of pride or reward showing off a resume with skills that can’t be backed up.

What matters is trying. The people we hear about in class share a few similar traits: drive and a hard-work ethic. They all joined clubs like the Torch or the Blaze. They all moved out of their comfort zones to follow their dreams and are working in the field they spent their four years studying.

How can someone expect to be an award-winning magazine writer, but refuse to get involved with the Torch? How can someone expect to be the next voice of sports in America, but refuse to join the Blaze? How can someone expect to find a career, but still choose not to learn new skills and gain experience as early as possible? What is beautiful about joining campus media is that it’s ran by your fellow students who understand how hard it is to move out of your comfort zone, balance time with school schedules and learn and refine skills. It truly is a judgement-free zone where you’re allowed to make mistakes. Making yourself marketable starts early.

Categories: Feature, Feature, Opinion, Recent Posts, Recent Stories

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