In this new venture into the blogosphere, I came across a wonderful site by five guys who are all wannabe hacks.Check out http://wannabehacks.wordpress.com. To put it simply, five guys who are taking different paths to become journalists. They have a great post on whether it is best to take a postgraduate journalism course or an undergraduate degree. The never-ending debate rolls on.
What did I do? Well after my A’Levels, I wasn’t entirely sure on what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted an academic degree so that is what I did. I was fortunate enough to study at what I believe is one of the greatest universities, the University of Warwick where I read Philosophy. I know this may not seem relevant to a journalism career, it was in fact one of the best degrees to have done. It was analytical, developed strong writing skills and helped to encourage debate and argument. I’m not sure I can remember any logic or what Kant was arguing in his Critique of Pure Reason but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I spent a lot of my university life involved in student politics and writing for the student newspaper. Vacations were spent as an eye in the sky travel reporter and at the local hospital radio station.
Three years on after graduation, I gained a place at the prestigious Cardiff Journalism School where I embarked on my journalism training. I was on the Broadcast Journalism course and was told I would be effectively working as a journalist. Yes, legal exams were taken and I learnt right from wrong in reporting ethics but the majority of time we were practising the craft.
At the end of nine months I was in the perfect position to start my professional career which I did at ITV Central in Birmingham.
So am I of the school where I favour an academic degree followed by a postgraduate? Well, yes and no. For me it was the absolute right thing to do. But now I’m moving to teach on an undergraduate degree programme where I believe my students will be getting the best of both worlds. The academic, analytical nature behind journalism and the practical skills necessary for a career. There are so many opportunities out there for students to practice journalism whether they are on an undergraduate journalism course or science, or arts. They can become part of the citizen journalism movement, work at a radio station and even film their own reports.
There is no right way to becoming a journalist. If you want it, you’ll work hard and find a way to do it. The best advice, keep your eyes open for opportunity and simply make the most of it.