What I Learned from a Semester of Journalism
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This past semester, I was put into the journalism class here at Roosevelt. I joined the class because I enjoyed writing and telling stories. Before joining journalism, I had never read the school newspaper. The class is currently pretty small and mostly first time journalists.
In journalism, I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve learned how to interact with the people and the community around you. As a journalist, you have to constantly watch and listen for your next story idea. I’ve learned to be much more comfortable when approaching people I don’t know for interviews or quotes.
Journalism has introduced me to a different style of writing. In journalism, you use facts to tell a story. Its unlike essays or fictional writing. You aren’t using all your evidence to make a point, but you can’t just make up a random story with no evidence.
There are two types of stories, the breaking news story and the news feature. The breaking news is reporting the event as it happens, like a bank robbery or a fire. The news feature is more about telling the story, like the story about a top high school athlete and their family.
Personally, I enjoy the news features more. In news features, you get to meet people and really get to know them. It’s more difficult to really meet new people in breaking news because you are trying to get the story out as quick as you can.
Journalism is a very open class. You can write just about any story idea you come up with. For example, I did an article on Operation Holiday Basket and spotlights on students. There are lots of articles on current events in the community, as well as movie and book reviews. The options are practically endless.
The openness of the class really forced me to learn how to execute ideas. You have to write three articles to receive an “A” grade. This means you have about three weeks per article to do interviews and take notes, write out your story, and submit to peers for editing. Because of that, you can’t sit around brainstorming forever. Once you get a good story, you have to jump into the process and get the article done.
Journalism has taught me how to be more concise. I’ve learned to be a more efficient writer; I say more in less words and shorter paragraphs. Instead of over exaggerating and using lots of figurative language, I keep things simple. Instead of describing every little detail of an object, I can put a picture.
Journalism introduced me to different forms of journalism, like BuzzFeed and The New Yorker, for example. Buzzfeed is less about reporting hard news and more about creating articles with interactivity and entertainment value. The New Yorker reports current events and pokes fun at people like politicians. The class has definitely broadened my horizon.
Overall, Journalism is a fun class that you can learn a lot in. I would encourage anyone who is on the fence about joining, to go for it. You will learn a lot and get the freedom to choose your own work, which is rare in the education system structured by learning targets and standardized tests.