Thursday, 23 July 2015

Some Thoughts On Studying Journalism

It's been about seven years since I graduated from my degree (good Lord that seems like a long time, currently feeling like I should have my shit together a lot more) and since we've reached the halfway point of the year I thought a few pointers into studying might be helpful for anyone considering going into this field of work. Here are some things I learnt along the way and things to think about.

Firstly I studied a degree in Journalism but through a Technical Institute (or a polytechnic or TAFE depending where you're from). So, rather than attending a University my course was filled with students usually studying practical courses such as nursing, trades, photography etc. I can't tell you how many benefits there were to studying this way.

Firstly most of my tutors had been journalists themselves (it's the type of career where you can easily get burnt out by your forties!) Rather than being taught the 'theories' or 'ideas' of journalism we were being taught by people who had actually been there and done that rather than Professors who may have gone from Uni to a PhD then onto lecturing. Real world experience is priceless for learning from your teachers and I always felt like my teachers could answer practical questions like 'what happens if I'm asked to do something by my editor I'm not comfortable with?'

The course was also very practical. About half our course was made up of assignments and exams where we had to answer or research moral questions but the other half was made up of practical work. When I graduated I had two years experience working at a newspaper, three months of experience working at a radio station and had written about thirty stories that had been published.

The hustle is real guys, though. While I had friends that were being handed 1,200 word essays in their first year of Uni, my tutors walloped us with a 3,000 word essay straight off the bat. And, oh yeah they expect you to work hard, real hard. We had to have a minimum number of stories published in the press - television, radio or print, and were competing with actual journalists who were getting paid. Needless to say a journalism degree isn't for the slack! Oh yeah, and did I mention having to learn shorthand in order to get your shiny piece of paper? It's literally the worst subject I've ever studied in my life.

Now this might sound like I've just named the worst things about doing this degree (and I have) but it's also a course which can set you up for life with real skills, real connections and real world experience. As someone who was kind of over the academic side of secondary school a practical degree was right up my alley. The other thing I have found is it doesn't matter where you study. I was really worried that not going to University and choosing a TAFE to do my course wouldn't look great on my CV compared to someone who had chosen University. The thing is you can't compete with practical experience and after the first year of studying I already had a job (part time) in the industry.

Anyway, I hope this post gives you a little bit of insight into what to expect from studying a degree in Journalism, and also the benefits of not doing it through a University (another popular option is to study a University degree and then do a post-grad diploma in Journalism at a Technical Institute). I'd love to know your experiences of studying, if you chose an uncommon path to get your qualification?


  1. This was a very interesting read!
    I myself studied for a degree in Chemistry, mostly because I was told it had multiple career paths and I didn't know what I wanted to do!
    If I had my time again I definitely wouldn't bother with uni, as you say real world experience is so much more important!

    The Everyday Life of Rachel

    1. Thanks Rachel. I still think having a qualification is quite important but mixing academics with practical skills is a great way to get both. Chemistry sounds interesting, I was always terrible at sciences though!

  2. This is informative, Francesca. I myself never tried uncommon path to get a qualification, but I do believe university is not the only way. I would like to learn more about graphic design, but university doesn't fit my lifestyle. So, I am considering taking a short course so it doesn't require as much time.

    Still, considering the current changes in my life, I still have doubts (again!)

    Gosh, if there's a class on how to decide fast and effectively, I'd definitely take it lol.

    Great post!

    1. I think it can be so hard going from a full time income to studying again, I don't think I could do it! You should definitely look for a short course on design that sounds awesome. I've done day courses in InDesign and Photoshop before and they are really good. Im currently looking for a design and photography course for work but there aren't any short term ones where I live so I feel your pain.


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