Do Journalism & Books Actually Work?

I’m a bookworm. But I also really, really care about the real world. Can you take your love for books into a job in the real world? Yes, you can. That’s why I study journalism.

I think journalism is a great fit for my love for fictional writing & books. It just works together.

Maybe you think of journalists as crazy-eyed news people running around, shoving cameras in everyone’s faces???

Um, that’s not us? And if anyone even whispers Fake news, I will SCREAM*

There are SO MANY different jobs in the news. Not all of them are wacky, ok, some of them are. Sorry, news directors.

And not all news is political? If you watch national news you’re going to see lots of politics. Because national news is national. And what else is there to talk about?

Also, just don’t watch national news? Save yourself!!!!

But think local news. Stories about charities in your city or a celebrity visiting a local school. And every year on Dec 26th, how to dispose of your live Christmas tree.**

Alot of people go into making the news. And surprise, WRITERS really, really matter. Do you like writing? Than journalism might, just might, work out.

*I’m glaring at you, don’t do it!!!!!!!!!!

**ok, maybe I’m picking on the holiday broadcasts. 

Telling a story

My JMC prof likes a simple question. We call it the mom question.

How would you tell your mom this story over dinner?

Don’t be all complicated and weird.
Just tell the story just like you would tell your mom.

While this question is for writing news, it helps me write books, too.

If words just aren’t coming together, I’ll tell the story. And yes, words fight you. They like to argue about being written.

Books are stories. They can be told. Tell the story, write the story. It will work better together. Trust me.

Every Person has a Story

This is a journalist’s mantra. We don’t live to start wars or attack people. (ok, maybe we actually live to change the world, but don’t tell anyone)

We live to tell people’s stories.

And some days, the stories seem insignificant. But that’s cause you haven’t asked the right question.

Yep, it’s your fault if the news is boring. (not you, reader. I’m talking to journalists here)

<Now I’m going back to talking to readers/writers>

Ask the right questions. Listen. Tell their stories.

I pull this in with my writing. When characters seem boring. Or if the story feels empty, I dig deeper. Ask myself different questions.

The story is hiding. It’s my job to find it.

Creativity

Nothing is ever the same in journalism. The news changes every single day. Every day. A new day. A different story.

Because of that, journalism is the kind of job where you have to be creative. You can’t rely on what you did last week, or last year, or just yesterday.

It has to be new. Fresh. Creative.

I get to use my creativity making news stories. And if you keep using your creativity, it grows. Maybe not for everyone, but it works for me?

My mom used to say the brain is a muscle. Use it & it grows. I’m guessing creativity just might work the same way.*

*also, I think this is the 5th time I’ve written just might in this post. Wow. I’m getting repetitive.

Writing style

Creative writing and news writing are way different. But kind of the same?

Answer who, what, when, where, why, how and you’ve told the story.

It’s all the style details that the news leaves out. Journalists don’t focus on feeling the story. We just tell it.

Yeah, you throw in some details.

For example, stories about 9/11 ALWAYS mention how blue the sky was before the planes hit NYC.

It sets the narrative memory about 9/11, it was normal day when absolute terror struck.

But normally, we don’t spend too much time setting narrative.

Creative writing, on the other hand, spends pages setting narrative. YAWN. Well, maybe not quite yawning. But too much prose is awful.

Sometimes narrative is great. We want to know about the green hills, rolling lakes, bagpipes playing in the distance. (especially if the story is set in Scotland)

But details can obscure the story, you know? News writing helps me find the balance. Answer the main points & don’t get drowned in the details.

Lots of Other Skills

So, I kind of emphasized that there’s a lot of jobs in the news. But journalism skills aren’t restricted to the news industry.

I can take my major and use it in so many different ways.

  • Freelance Writing/Blogging. Basically, I already do this. 
  • Public Relations
  • Photography  think Wedding Photo/Video business
  • Social Media Managing
  • Marketing
  • Advertising

I came up with this quick list in about 2 minutes. Remember, Journalism makes you creative? And you can take your creative skills into so many industries.

I didn’t start college as journalism major. I actually started in education before switching to journalism. Now, I love my major, obviously, I’m trying to convert all of you into my journalism world.

I’d love to work in the news industry as a news producer. But I’d also really like to publish a book or two. Or three. We’ll see. 🙂

And some authors worked as TV writers before publishing books. I know Suzanne Collins did, but google isn’t helping me find more. Maybe I googled the wrong thing. (I’m not reading pages about screen writers. Nope. Not happening.)

lets chat

Was this post helpful? Are you ready to sign your life away to journalism?

What are you interested in studying?

Do you watch the news? Or read the newspaper?  

Psst…I can’t stand watching national news. But I love reading the news! Thanks to the Washington Post for a free student subscription!

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8 Comments

  1. Love, Marrill
    January 3, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    I was just thinking this past week about journalism – it’s something I’m really considering, though I’m not too interested in dealing with news. I prefer writing articles for magazines or blogs, on topics like nature or animals or culture. Does that still count as journalism?

    Do you find it necessary to get a college degree to be a journalist? I’m not one for school, and when I weigh the pros and cons it seems like I’d be wasting the four years just for a degree.

    • January 3, 2018 / 4:48 pm

      That definitely still counts as journalism! Blogging is a type of journalism, and magazines are all counted as Journalistic writing. My major offers classes in Magazine Writing & Editorial Writing > which is basically blogging.
      I think a college degree is important, (going out of state to school grew me SO MUCH as a person)
      But if you want to write professionally, I’d suggest a writing degree. Whether it’s journalism or creative writing, you learn so much. And to work in the industry, a college degree is important.
      I didn’t pick a minor, so I’m free to take classes in creative writing, too.

  2. January 3, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    YES, this post was helpful!! Haha, I’m interested in signing up to be a journalist (it sounds amazing), but it also seems like a very unsteady job, which scares me. Is that true?

    • Elizabeth Hunter
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 1:07 pm

      So glad it was helpful!
      It’s not necessarily unsteady. Freelance writing is, but most publications and companies are fairly steady jobs for journalists.
      That said, a lot of journalists move around in their field quite a bit. I think most journalists like the freedom to change jobs & work on different stories for different companies, so that happens alot.

      • January 6, 2018 / 1:41 pm

        Oh okay, that’s good to know. How difficult would you say it is to get a job at a publication or a company?
        Yes, that sounds awesome! One of the things that really interests me about studying journalism is that you get to forever keep learning about new things. Thank you so much for answering my question!

  3. January 4, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    I’ll be going to college and picking a major soon, so this post was really helpful. I love writing and my dream is to be an author, but that’s hard to make happen, so I’m seriously considering journalism as a major!

    • January 5, 2018 / 1:32 pm

      Cool! I’m glad this was helpful! 😊

  4. November 4, 2018 / 1:00 am

    this post is so lovely! Like you I’m super into journalism (though it’s not my degree because undergrad journalism isn’t a thing in New Zealand, so I do English literature, Media studies and anthropology, which are all relevant in different ways). And doing journalism for my student magazine has already helped me so much, like I do freelance copywriting (lol i hate it though) and have done some paid evaluation work in indonesia and stuff. I love journalism INSANELY and I’m so glad that another book blogger does! I think it translates into my creative writing too: being dedicated, always referencing newspapers somehow (I’ve written a short story and a novel about fantasy journalism), and the focus on clarity and having a clear plot and thread of what is happening.

Drop some knowledge!

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