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The ROI of your journalism degree

April 15, 2010

If you ever come across one of these posts about how a journalism degree is worthless, roll your eyes and X whatever tab you’re in. They’re likely just trying to shock you into reading something that I’ll tell you straight up: Drinking too much journalism Kool-Aid can lead you astray.

It’s no secret that a lot of journalism educators are anti-Web (or at least agnosti-Web), either because they spent the bulk of their careers before the Web really came into use or because they have a fundamental problem with where journalism is headed (or both). “They force you into a style that a bunch of dinosaurs all agreed was acceptable a zillion years ago.” Blah, blah, blah.

For starters, any degree is a good degree because it’s a prerequisite to halfway decent employment these days (no one cares what your major is anyway). Second of all, and more importantly, the value of your degree is exactly proportional to what you put into it. Is it possible to learn journalism on the job? Yes. It’s perfectly possible to do that and still be an amazing journalist. And if you want to go off and do that, cool. But don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re already doing is useless. Don’t get scared by this crap. Because no matter what you do, you’re going to need to learn to do your own teaching if you’re going to be any good at it.

For what it’s worth, I went through journalism school, I spent time as a curmudgeonly print reporter and I came out just fine. Do whatever works for you and no matter what, be damn good at it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 10:17 am

    Amen and amen! I’m using my time in college to study up on the future of news. It’s not in the curriculum per se, but since I am doing nothing else but going to school, I’m forever grateful that I have the time and space to really study the industry in depth.

  2. April 15, 2010 10:41 am

    I don’t see any problem at all with plunging oneself 100 percent into journalism, especially if that’s the career path you plan to take. If it doesn’t work out, whatever—there’s always copywriting, PR, or a million other things.

    And I have to repeat, the idea that any degree is a waste of time just baffles me.

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