I get asked one question a lot, usually in different words. It goes something like, “Oh, you’re a journalism major? One of those? What do you even do with that?” and comments like “You won’t make any money.”
I want to scream that I am going to save the world someday! I am going to be the one to get information to you so you aren’t left in the dark. I am going uncover truths and talk to your favorite band.
Journalists are important. Unfortunately, there are bad apples out there within the industry, but a personal goal of mine is to rise above that.
We are essential for democracy. Journalists provide free speech and information for the people to be free and self governed. We provide the necessary information that helps you decide who to vote for on election day. Within our current political climate, journalists are publicly scrutinized. There are some news platforms that lean heavily toward certain parties, and that is where the subject gets a little blurry. It is our job to be objective and unbiased.
Similarly, I like to think of journalists as an invisible branch of the government. We protect and work within the first amendment of protecting the press and freedom of speech. Journalists protect the truth and present information to the people so that they can form their opinions.
On another note, journalists also have certain skills that can be used it a variety of jobs. Researching — believe me when I say I can acquire information quickly and almost flawlessly — is one of many skills along with writing, interviewing, verbal communication, and critical thinking. The best part is when my work gets published and my voice is heard, which you know since you are reading this article.
Here’s a story about a specific time my work and education path was discredited by a Roger Williams faculty member. I was working as an Orientation Advisor for incoming students and we were sitting in the meet-the-dean session. The dean of the School of Justice Studies made some fun of my major in front of all of my orientees. He asked what my major was, and I responded.
“Oh you’re one of those,” he said when I told him my major. I smiled, proud as hell to be “one of those.”
He went about his presentation and came across to a slide about the forensic science major.
“They sit in a lab pretending like what they do is cool and relevant like what the see on CSI,” he said and then nods in my direction and says, “Sort of like others in this room.”
He must have sensed my internal eye roll and tried to come back with a backhanded, patronizing compliment.
“I am sure you’re gonna save the world someday” he chuckles and says in a patronizing tone.
You see, I have the ability to talk about this and publish it in a newspaper. And now you know the story. The power of writing in a wonderful thing.
Moral of the story: protect journalists. We thrive off of freedom and democracy and giving you information you need. Knowledge is power and it is necessary to remember that journalists work to give you that power.