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Any Future for Writing?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Journo13, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. Journo13

    Journo13 Member

    Hey guys. I'm a junior in high school, and I have absolutely no idea what I should be doing right now. I've interned at a weekly newspaper the past three years, and I love covering sports. However, everywhere I turn, there's not a shred of good news on the future of this industry. I've read the earlier threads, and I have an idea of what it looks like.

    This has been the profession I've wanted to enter for a long time, whether with a newspaper or for a website. I've even considered covering news instead of sports. However, I'm worried that I'll be wasting my time writing for local newspapers now while there won't be any jobs waiting on the other end. I know that some of you guys are looking for work with bills coming at you, so I don't want to make my situation seem any worse than anyone else. But I have no idea whether or not my goals for a career in journalism are even possible right now.

    Hopefully I don't come off as a new guy simply ranting about the current state of journalism or as someone putting up another "Looking for Advice" thread. However, with choosing a college degree coming up, is there even a future for someone looking to become a journalist?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I think you have a great chance at making it.

    You seem to be extraordinarily knowledgeable about the industry, obviously have done your homework on this site and communicate very well for someone who is a junior in high school.

    So if you can write, report and research that well -- as a junior in high school -- you can go places.
  3. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    There will be a future for writing in some form/length/distribution method. But, you should realize that it is being largely de-emphasized in favor of technical and production skills.

    My suggestions would be these:

    -- Be aware that perhaps you should plan on focusing on TV and Web writing, and start concentrating on making connections with Web sites and their personnel in the same manner you have done with your local newspaper.

    -- Prepare yourself for that by having something to offer them besides story ideas or a willingness to cover games.

    -- Become comfortable being in front of TV and video cameras. Learn skills needed to operate such equipment well and to do production work in videography.

    -- Become knowledgeable and comfortable with as many graphics/ newspaper layout software programs as possible, among them Quark, Photoshop, InDesign, CCI and others.

    -- Learn Web site-building skills and do Web production work if the opportunity presents itself so that you learn the basics of HTML formatting and other Web production skills.

    -- Find something to specialize in/become a genuine expert at, so that you can offer a niche, and be willing to blog about it, constantly, intelligently and consistently.

    -- Become a good reporter, as well as a good writer.
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    One other suggestion, particularly if you are in Florida, or anywhere close to there: Get in touch with Tim Stephens, the AME/Sports Topics Manager at the Orlando Sentinel, and ask about his paper's high school sports reporting institute, which is taught by Tim, and ask, also, about Varsity Life, the paper's Web page that is produced and run by selected high school students involved with the institute.

    Stephens posts on here, under his name, and is generally helpful and approachable. Look him up on the members list and PM him. I'm sure he'd respond to any questions you asked.
  5. Journo13

    Journo13 Member

    I wish. I live in Massachusetts with most of the news concerning journalism involves the Boston Globe cutting jobs left and right. But I'll make sure to PM him. Thanks guys for the advice so far!
  6. ringer

    ringer Member

    Keep in mind as you approach college that your major does not have to be pre-professional. Yes, it's important to take reporting classes, media ethics, and media law if you aspire to be a journalist, but you'll actually bring more to the table if you major in something else - anything else.

    As for post-college... no job is ever "waiting." You'll be jockeying for position for years - maybe for your entire career - but why would you ever let circumstances beyond your control dictate your fate? Do what you can while you can, and when you can't take it anymore...there's always law school.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Don't major in journalism.

    Repeat: Do not major in journalism.

    Major in economics or finance or political science or engineering or pre-med or philosophy (not by itself, though, for the love of God) or international relations or ...

    Do not major in journalism.

    Major in something substantive, and then learn journalism by doing it.

    This will accomplish two things:

    (1) It will make you a better journalist and more marketable. I read an outstanding piece after the BP oil disaster about how journalists suck at covering stuff like that because none of us have the technical engineering expertise to either spot it in advance or report on it after the fact.

    (2) It will make you versatile in case journalism doesn't work out.

    I bleeping love that you mentioned you would do news. That sets you apart from 99.99999 percent of the kids your age who post here and really just want to meet their heroes.
  8. Journo13

    Journo13 Member

    It's funny. I didn't consider sports writing because I wanted to meet famous athletes. I'd much rather meet someone like Joe Posnanski rather than Kobe Bryant. I simply love watching the games while having a chance to write about them.

    But journalism is still my main goal, whether it's covering the World Series or covering the White House. I want to write for a career, and I simply have an interest in current events and history.

    I have a question on majors, though. I've heard of niche journalism becoming a trend in recent years. However, I haven't really thought of what I want to specialize in, although politics and government is something I'm interested in. Should I pick a specialized major to fit something like government, or should I pick something broad such as a liberal arts degree?

    Thanks to all of the advice so far. It's a great help.
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Don't major in something like English or Philosophy or Art History.

    Do major in something broad like Economics. Hell, I think some of the ivies only offer degrees like those.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Political Science or something related to Social Services would be great majors for journalists, and, they are also intelligent choices because they could be used in several other fields should you ever desire to focus on those particular things directly instead of just writing about them.

    They also strike me as things you might be likely to be interested in, in and of themselves, anyway.

    Liberal arts could be good, but, as with journalism, I think focus can be lost, and if you major in that, people are as likely as not to go, "So, what is it you studied, exactly?"

    Liberal arts might be good if you think you might want to eventually get into teaching, or if you think you might up in communications or public relations, in general, rather than in newspapers specifically.
  11. BYH

    BYH Active Member

  12. ringer

    ringer Member

    English is a GREAT major because you'll read great writers.
    Science is excellent - biology, physics
    History is excellent
    Foreign Language - if you're fluent, it opens the door to an international post.
    Even statistics would be great - probability and analysis are great things to master.

    But the best advice? Take classes from outstanding professors no matter what the subject.
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