Journalism is not everyone’s cup of tea. The short, blunt paragraphs and inverted pyramid that tells readers exactly who, what, where, when and how from the get-go are creative writers’ worst nightmares. There is virtually no element of suspense, no character development, and no world building. Right?
Well, not exactly.
Just like creative writing, journalism is detail-driven and can include humor and depth. Quotations add dimension and often a human-touch to a news story. Experienced journalists know to keep bias out of their writing, however, by carefully crafting what details they include, they can give even the most boring news story some personalized flair. And a news feature slows down the journalistic pace and really allows readers to gain a deep sense of a topic or person through real accounts and personal stories. In short, journalism can be just as personal and creative as other forms of writing.
But why should all English majors, even those who think they are solely creative writers, take a class in journalism?
Journalism offers English majors a different set skills that other types of writing may not:
- Concision (Redundant details are cut, every word is used for the most possible impact)
- Time management (No other type of writing is as deadline-based as journalism, where timeliness is essential to getting the story before competing news source)
- The ability to conduct an interview (interpersonal skills are a MUST no matter what field you go into)
- Making connections and building a network (Sure, you can talk to creative writers all you want, but no other form of writing is as reliant on talking to other people and making human connections like journalism is)
- Editing skills (Journalists have their own style usage and syntax guide known as The Associated Press Stylebook, or AP Style. Knowing several, including AP, which is used exclusively in journalism, can be a great skill to add on a resume)
Even if you don’t want a career in journalism, taking just one class on the subject can greatly improve your writing abilities and professional skills as an English major. Being able to adapt and write for a variety of audiences is a HUGE skill for any English major. Journalism can help get you there.
Chelsianna Havko is a senior English and Environmental Studies major at Seton Hill University. She has taken classes in journalism, creative writing, business communications, and literary criticism. She strongly believes that the only way to improve your writing is to constantly push yourself to go out of your comfort zone and write for different audiences.