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Work Experience or Masters of Journalism???

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Kettner, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Kettner

    Kettner New Member

    Hey, I'm wanting to go into Sports Journalism - however, I'm not quite sure which way to go about doing so. At the end of this year I'll have my 4 year BA-English and also quite a few clippings from online articles, which I've just started doing for a website, as well as a couple newspaper articles from a small town sports section.

    I'm really just wanting to get out and work, but would also consider doing the Masters of Journalism. However, my concern is that I'll be able to get the same entry level job with my four-year degree that I would have to start out with if I had my Masters, except, in my opinion, it may be even more difficult to get if I had my Masters due to overqualification. Is this a concern I should be having or am I way off base?

    I live in Canada, therefore if I do take my Masters then I would probably do so in Canada because of the fact that it's where I would want to work the rest of my life and that I would make a number of connections throughout grad school - but if I did decide to take my Masters in the US, then would it be just as valuable or possibly more?

    These are just a few of the questions I've been having. I'm hoping that a four-year degree is good enough to get an entry-level job and then work my way up, but if it is not then please let me know.

    Also, let me know how you got started...just so I can see how education and experience has led your career. Thanks,

    -Chad Kettner
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Be nice.

  3. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    I think, if you're worth your salt as a writer, the only reason you'd need a masters is if you wanted to be a publisher one day.
  4. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    I can chime in a bit on the side of a Masters, since that's the route I took.

    First, I didn't have an undergrad degree in journalism or ANY clips to speak of, so finding entry level work for me wasn't easy. Because of that, the masters seemed a logical choice. I will say, too, that what I thought I knew about journalism was nothing compared to what I learned after going to grad school. I am definitely a far, far better writer now because of it.

    Having said that, I don't think my Masters in and of itself really helped me land a job, and while it might have earned me a bit more money, it certainly wasn't much more. If you have some interest in teaching part-time, as well -- something a lot of folks do for some extra income -- having a Masters will DEFINITELY help with that.

    The biggest advantage to the Masters, however, is contacts. I can definitively say that the contacts I made during grad school served me well in landing a job, and I have a considerable list of contacts and job info to use for future job searches.

    Of course, a masters at just any college may not afford you such a wealth of contacts. Most smaller schools or schools that are not widely known for their journalism programs might not be nearly as much help to you in that department. I can't speak for Canadian schools -- but in the U.S., Northwestern, Syracuse, Missouri, Columbia, etc. would all be excellent choices to consider.

    The other upside to a Masters is, obviously, you'll have a graduate degree. It's really easy to say you want to be a sports writer before you've actually done it, but the perils of this industry are many, and the rewards are not fame and fortune, that's for sure. The industry as a whole is chock full of doom and gloom, as papers shrink the size of their staffs and trim fat wherever possible. Meanwhile, enrollment in J-schools is at an all-time high. The fact is, most people getting in now won't still be doing this in a few years.

    Maybe that applies to you, maybe it doesn't. But just in case, it certainly can't hurt to have a Masters to fall back on.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    A masters is most important if you think you might want to teach someday.

    Otherwise, for what you're after, not so much.
  6. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    Sorry if I'm being harsh, but it seems like you didn't do enough these past four years. You should have been working at the student paper, the local daily, internships, etc. It's hard enough to get a job with all that, so you're playing catch-up. A Masters might buy you time to do all that, and it would also open the door to a teaching spot down the road. But who knows, maybe someone will hire you.
  7. Kettner

    Kettner New Member

    I have in fact been writing for the school paper as well as a few articles for the local daily. I believe I'll have plenty of clippings when all is said and done.

    One of my main concerns around the Masters is the fact that entry level jobs are low-pay and a Masters program costs so much, therefore is the investment really worth it in the long run or would it be just as good to get two years of experience at $25k a year compared to having a Masters?
  8. audreyld

    audreyld Guest

    I worked for two years before electing to come to graduate school. I would never advocate going straight from an undergrad degree to grad school.

    Work for a while, then evaluate your needs.
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Agree with UT. I know lots of folks who were in school for 6 or 8 years straight and are still fighting their way out of the mountain of school debt several years later. And they're not in entry level newspaper jobs making 30k.
  10. Flash

    Flash Guest

    If you're Canadian and looking at a masters, I'm going to assume you're looking at UWO or UBC. There's not one person in the business I met who graduated from there. What most of us did was get an undergraduate degree and then go to a technical school and get a one- to two-year diploma. Ryerson and Concordia have decent programs. There are lots of them in Ontario. Out west, I know of SAIT in Calgary and I think UBC has a one-year program in addition to its masters. I did Holland College.
    In tech school, you'll learn how to write and report ... although I'm sure learning the history, philosophy and theory of journalism is fascinating, it just doesn't seem all that real-world applicable.
    Hope that helps. ;)
  11. daemon

    daemon Well-Known Member

    Just reading the thread title, I'd agree with you.

    But reading the post, I get the impression that grad school might actually be a good idea. If you've already completed your B.A. yet only have "a few online clips," I'd tend to think that getting a job will be rather difficult.

    What most people have said is true: for those with actual newspaper experience, a grad degree isn't going to do much. But what it will do (assuming you enroll in a good program) is force you to accumulate some decent clips and contacts that will eventually land you a decent job.
  12. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    It would help if you had more than just a few at the local daily (any chance they'd hire you full-time?), if you were working there part-time or stringing several times a week. That said, if you could get a decent entry level job now, take it.
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