The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Meet the Major: Journalism

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A video camera is visible in the foreground during a journalism class at the University of Massachusetts

Why journalism?

I’ve always liked writing, and knew from an early age that it was something I wanted to do forever. So, when the time came to choose a career, I knew I wanted something that would allow me to do that the thing I loved the most (and, if we’re being honest, the thing I do best). I thought about majoring in English or communication, but I felt like both were too broad for I what I wanted to do with my life, and that’s when journalism came along.

Journalism is also in my blood. My grandpa was a prominent journalist in Bolivia, and I credit his influence for my passion for writing.

Which classes?

The journalism department has tons of classes you can choose from to fulfill your requirements. Whatever your interest, chances are you’ll find a class that fits perfectly with what you want to write about. So far, I’ve taken Newswriting and Reporting, Journalism and Law, Writing for PR, Intro to Multimedia Journalism, Magazine Writing, Longform Narrative and the African American Freedom Struggle with the Press.

I’ve learned something valuable in each of my classes, but I think the one that’s going to stay with me the most is Journalism and Law with Karen List. The class falls under the concepts and critical thinking major requirement, and I think it’s one of the most useful classes I’ve ever taken. We’re constantly putting ourselves out there as journalists, and that can be a tricky thing to do. It’s important the we know what our rights and protections are, as well as what to watch out for in our writing and reporting.

Cool things I’ve learned

I’ve learned so much over the course of my journalism career here at the University of Massachusetts, it’s hard to single out any one thing. If I had to that, I would say that I’ve learned that practice makes perfect.

I have social anxiety, so going out and interviewing strangers isn’t exactly something I was thrilled to do when I first came here. Every time I dreaded having to reach out to someone for an interview and then actually having to meet with them to talk to them. But my grades depend heavily on the quality of my interviews, so I made myself go out there and ask the questions over and over again until, lo and behold, I actually started liking it. I’m not going to lie, interviewing random people on the street (which I’ve had to do for assignments) still makes me break a sweat, but thanks to my professors I learned that if you keep trying it, at the very least you’ll grow into the habit of doing it and it won’t be as scary anymore.

I’ve also learned that journalism is not just writing, it can be so much more. I’ve produced podcasts, videos, photo stories, PR packages, presentations, and articles I never thought I would write. This major really widened my idea of what journalism is and what it’s becoming.

Professors

I don’t mean to brag, but I can honestly say that I haven’t had a single professor I don’t like in the journalism department. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but in my experience, the journalism professors at UMass Amherst actually want to see you succeed. That means they’ll make sure you produce the best work you can, regardless of if you want to publish it or not (and they’ll help you if you do).

Career Plans

There are so many options in journalism right now, it’s hard to figure out what I want to do after graduation. If anything, I would love to work in an international or global publication that would allow me to report on multiple languages and on different communities in the world. There’s so much going on outside of the US, and we don’t really know the half of it.

I think that my job as a journalist is to inform as many people as I can on as many important things as I can. So as long as I get to do at least that, I think I can consider myself happy.

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