I can’t believe my time here in Washington is almost half-way through! It’s a bit frightening because the city has really grown on me. This weekend was especially enjoyable because the city experienced the warmest weather since I’ve been here. It got up to 65 degrees!
On another note, I have also experienced others coming to me with misconceptions about journalism. Someone asked me why I need a college degree to do something so “fun.” Majoring in broadcast journalism is at times fun but it’s also filled with long rides on the strugglebus. So before rushing to conclusions, here are some tips you should know before choosing to major in broadcast journalism OR judging a journalist:
1. This isn’t the easy route.
If you’re just trying to get out of taking rigorous classes, you’re in for a rude surprise. There’s a lot more to the journalism curriculum than meets the eye. It’s completely project-based so be prepared for time-consuming days out in the field, headaches in the editing lab caused from intensely staring at a screen for hours and strict deadlines. Oh and don’t forget to juggle all of your other classes too.
2. Your schedule revolves around everyone else.
You will have limited say concerning when you can work on your story and how much time your project will take. Your work depends upon when your sources feel like getting back with you. It might be today, (rarely ever is) or next week, or never. A phone interview won’t do because you have to interview them face-to-face, captured on camera. Get ready for endless phone calls begging people to meet up with you. If suddenly they can’t make the interview, well, suddenly you don’t have a story. You can’t just go into the library, pull out your books and “do” a story like other students can just “do” their homework; you have to rely on others. If you like to plan things out to a tee this might make your hair fall out.
3. Being a student can be a setback
Don’t lie but if they don’t ask, don’t tell! If people think they’re speaking to an expert rather than a student then they will typically be more respectful. Otherwise they’ll think you’re doing some cute class project that’s not very important.
4. Say good riddance to sleep.
Get that last nap in because you’re going to be up all night either planning interviews, editing, writing scripts, or rethinking your entire career plan.
5. You can’t go to class in sweats.
In addition to being in a state of constant sleep deprivation you also have to roll into class looking TV-ready with flawless hair and make-up. You know…just in case. You never know when you’ll have to be on-camera for a show, live-shot or stand-up. So you can’t look like the tired college student you are!
6. Your back will ache.
I kid-you-not when I say that broadcast journalism is the most physically-grueling major! I carried equipment twice my size (the cameras my school gave us were huge). It didn’t matter how heavy they were, I still had to carry them all of the time as if they were attached to my hip. My days were strategized around how I could lug dozens of pounds of equipment around campus and the city of Austin all day without breaking my back. It didn’t help that the parking available for UT students is located in the very back corner of Narnia. I gained some major biceps but it is probably the cause of my worsening scoliosis.
7. Prepare to listen to your voice over and over and over
If you’re like most people then listening to your own voice can be painful. “I don’t really sound like that, do I?” Yes, you do. And the first time you’ll ever record your voice for a story you are going to sound awful. It takes a while to find your acceptable reporter voice that doesn’t sound too monotone or overly exaggerated. In fact I’m still working on it.
I sound a bit negative but I promise it’s not all torturous! Yes, at times I frantically thought, “WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?” but here is also why broadcast journalism is the best major for me and could be the best for you:
1. I have become very comfortable talking to all types of people.
2. After intense editing sessions, I am now a much better writer.
3. Being on-camera all the time helped me understand how to better carry and present myself.
4. I like to say I can edit almost anything: video, audio, images, writing—you name it.
5. My professors made me become a one-man-band which means I pitched, reported, interviewed, filmed, and edited all of my stories with no help. It was intense and I had to become even more independent.
6. The circumstances above also forced me to become an excellent multitasker.
7. Interviewing has become second-nature. I know what I look for when I interview others so I have an understanding of what others are looking for from me. Interviewing is my favorite part of an application.
8. I am constantly challenged and inspired.
9. I cannot say that I am ever bored.
Broadcast journalism is such a rewarding field and I have gained so many transferrable skills. To everyone who sees me with all my equipment and says, “Oh how fun!” do not be fooled into thinking I’m playing cutesy “pretend to be a news anchor” games with my camera. There is a lot of rigorous work that goes on behind all the 2-minute projects. My fellow newscasters can understand!
Here are some pictures illustrating my week in Washington. I’m loving this experience more and more!
Thin Mint and Mocha Caramel Milkshakes