Is A Journalism Degree Worthless?

(Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to welcome back Jessica Malnik to the blog for a guest post.)

*A bit of a disclaimer: I left the journalism rollercoaster world for the adventures of marketing and PR a year ago. I haven’t looked back since. That being said, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t apply something I learned while at the University of Missouri Journalism School.

Is a journalism degree worthless? I’ve heard this question come up quite a bit over the last couple of months. As more and more traditional media outlets crumble or suffer massive rounds of layoffs, the skeptics come out and immediately question any college student or recent grad- like myself- who majored or is majoring in journalism. I think that’s a real shame.

It’s awful that countless numbers of high school and college students these days are being detracted and sidelined from pursuing a major in journalism. I firmly believe that a journalism degree is just as valuable today, if not more so, than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Here’s three reasons why.

1. The core journalism skills translate well for a lot of careers.

At the very core of journalism, it’s about communicating effectively. To be successful, you have to be articulate and a good writer. Both are very valuable skills at the core of dozens of jobs- from public relations and marketing to engineering and medicine.

Factor in that most journalism students today have at least a basic grasp of multimedia skills, and you have the core foundation to be successful at almost any pursuit.

2. It’s not what you major in that matters, it’s how you choose to use it.

This goes for everything from journalism majors to sociology and classics majors. So many people box themselves inside the parameters of what they decided to major in at college. When in reality, your major is just the foundation for your career. It’s how you choose to apply the core skills that you learned that really matters.

To sum it up, there’s no bad majors. Don’t be afraid to use your journalism degree- or whatever you majored in- in a different way. A journalism student doesn’t have to be a journalist. You can end up being a marketer, PR pro, engineer, lawyer, etc. The sky’s the limit.

3. Journalism breeds curiosity and solid listening skills.

Most people, who major in journalism, have one thing in common. They are all curious about the world around them. They seek out ways to ask questions and listen to the people around them to understand issues and convey messages to a larger audience.

The ability to ask tough questions as well as listen for subtle nuances and clues  is an art form. It’s a skill that can take you far in whatever career path that you choose.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist, videographer and avid blogger.  Visit her blog for social media, technology, public relations and marketing ramblings.

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About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on May 31, 2011, in Guest Blog, Media and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I agree with all of your points. The intangibles that journalism teaches can be applied in many ways to many sectors. It is unfortunate that given the current climate of the print media that journalists are largely short-changed and undervalued. People don’t believe they need journalists when they can go on Twitter or Facebook and find discussion on pertinent topics, but quality writing and investigation is where journalists will always come out ahead when the proper amount of time and dedication is devoted.

    But to your main point, those with journalism backgrounds are always good with deadlines, are quick learners, and can think on their feet. That can be applied in nearly any job situation.

    • Great points, Spencer. Journalism students and grads have a lot of distinct advantages over non-grads. Your point about being quick learners and good on deadlines is spot on. The ability to hustle and get things done in a timely manner is a skill that almost any company looks for. I’d also argue that many journalists may be better suited towards social media management jobs due to their ability to curate and aggregate the most relevant content. Something that I predict will become the next big shift in social media.

  2. This is similar to what I tell people about a degree in English. I have found that to be the single most important aspect of my education because it is not really about books, writing and reading etc. It’s about thinking critically and, pardon the overused phrase, outside the box.

    I’ve worked in marketing, tech jobs, media etc. and nothing has served me as well as the degree in English.

    • That’s an interesting point, Bill. It’s all about using your major and dissecting all the skills you learned from it into the most valuable way for your profession.

  3. Nice post, Jessica! I really like your thoughts, we seem to have the same professional philosophy. 🙂 Got so inspired that I wrote a post on the same subject, but from another perspective: Why Journalism Needs a PR Degree at http://vampyr.se/2011/05/31/why-journalism-needs-a-pr-degree/.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. This is a breath of fresh air.

    I’m reading this from a background of a libertarians telling me, 24/7, that almost all collegiate degrees are worthless, except those in the hard sciences. And, it depressed me to have been convinced that what I’m most interested in (political-economics and journalism) is “worthless.”

    But wiith these points, I now know they’re wrong.

    Thank you for your article.

  1. Pingback: Marketing Media by vampyr » Why Journalism Needs a PR Degree

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